Posts Tagged ‘ vegan ’

Family Friendly Road Trip: Is Atlanta A Vegan Friendly City?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

As I just mentioned in the letter before this, we spent last weekend in Atlanta for the Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con. While there, we had a little adventure riding the SkyView Ferris wheel, on a whim.

I’ve noticed that my letters to you are taking more of a turn these days, as I find myself focusing more on reviewing road trip destinations, toys, movies, and vegan food… from a family friendly perspective.

So it only makes sense that I would like to point out something really cool that I learned last weekend:

Atlanta is undeniably vegan friendly!

I would have never assumed that.

Having grown up in Fort Payne, AL, just a 2 hour drive from Atlanta, I was familiar with a culture in which fried chicken and sweet tea were simply part of one’s identity.

To have even thought of not eating meat, dairy, or eggs was somehow… unChristian, unpatriotic, and basically, just overall blasphemy for a Southerner.

With that being said, Atlanta continues to show up in nearly every Internet search for “Vegan Friendly Cities in America.”

And it didn’t take long for our family to see that.

As we approached the Georgia World Congress Center where the Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con was being held, we encountered “Vegan Man” with his homemade costume, accompanied by his other friends from a group called Mercy For Animals.

Once I looked down at the pamphlet they were handing out to passersby, I responded with, “Yeah. I’m a vegan.” I instantly received a hug and great cheer.

When you’re a vegan family, it’s a given that you have to do your meal planning in advance.

So we found a perfect 100% vegan Asian fusion restaurant called The Loving Hut. It was inexpensive and delicious!

While we were waiting for the food, you enjoyed “putting the ants in their bed.” (That consisted of you sprinkling salt and pepper in their tray.)

Conveniently enough, the restaurant was right across the street from the Sandy Springs Whole Foods, which was just right around the corner from the Le Meridien where we stayed.

So between The Loving Hut and Whole Foods, we never had to worry about where our plant-based meals would come from.

I loved being able to start each morning with Buchi on tap. (That’s basically the vegan version of soda; it’s a brand of Kombucha tea, based out of Asheville, NC.)

As for you, as a treat, you got to enjoy some “natural bears” and “squishy fish,” which were basically gummy bears and Swedish fish that were made without dyes from bugs or petroleum.

So with all that being said, we are now officially confident to visit the wonderfully entertaining city of Atlanta again, as a plant-based family.

Yes, Atlanta is very vegan friendly.





P.S. Our next “family friendly road trip” where we will test the “vegan friendliness” of a city will be Lake Tahoe, Nevada… in just a few weeks!

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Strawberry Banana Quesadillas On The Dark Side Of The Moon

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Saturday morning after you and Mommy made Strawberry Banana Quesadillas for breakfast, which we all loved, we decided to use the creative parts of our brains by doing some artwork together.

In our closet, you discovered some colorful foam sheets to draw on with markers. Mommy and I drew some animals per your request, while you worked on abstract pictures.

After each time you finished a new work of art, you held out the newly colored foam sheet in air and announced your next creation:

“Hey Daddy, look… this is a Skittle Fan. I think it’s an animal.”

You then explained to me your intentions. You planned to make enough works of art so that you can give one to each of your friends at school. Awesome idea!

My favorite was the last one you did. You announced to me:

“Daddy, this one is a dark, sedway moon. I think I dream about these things at night.”

Dark, sedway moon… So mysterious, so profound.

What if you really do dream about dark, “sedway” moons and your artwork is actually a window to what you dream about at night?

What if your abstract dreams will predict the future of what will happen in real life? Like a prophetic dream?

What if this is the premise of a PG-13 rated psychological thriller movie starring Robert De Niro or Greg Kinnear?

I think it could be. Hollywood will be calling me soon for the movie rights… I’m sure of it.

Or maybe I’m thinking too much into it. Actually, I think I just figured it out right now as I’m typing this: Maybe “sedway” is just your way of trying to say “side of,” as in, “dark side of the moon.”

Maybe you and I should play Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon while watching The Wizard of Oz. Or at least watch the 3rd Transformers movie.

I wasn’t even for sure that you dreamt at all yet. Now I know.

You are a fascinating kid, you know that?

Just another typical Saturday morning: Strawberry banana quesadillas and dark side of the moon.




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Ask A Vegan Anything: Here’s Your Chance

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Starting today, I’m inviting the social media universe to “AMA”… ask me anything regarding our plant-based lifestyle.

I grew up during a time when it was normal to put my faith in finding the cure for cancer and disease by mailing in yogurt lids, running in races, and wearing ribbons.

Fortunately, in the past couple of years as the number of vegans in America has more than doubled, another option has begun spreading- thanks to Netflix documentaries and social media.

Turns out, your dad is one of those people who is attempting to positively (not narcissistically) set the record straight for anyone with sincere, curious questions; making myself a human Guinea pig for the world to see.

People who are like me believe there already is a cure for these cancers and diseases…but that the cure comes in a very inconvenient format:

Prevention (and reversal) through an exclusively plant-based diet of simply fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

It makes me think of the clever quote by Albert Einstein:

“Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.”

Obviously, I won’t live forever in this body and I don’t believe that a 100% plant-based diet makes me invincible. Still, I don’t want my future years with you to include me having diabetes or cancer, knowing there might be something I could have done to keep it from happening.

But I suppose until a person watches Forks Over Knives on Netflix, it’s difficult for them to see the simple scientific and historical connection between animal product consumption and disease.

For me, it’s common knowledge that dairy consumption is linked to allergy and sinus issues, overproduction of mucus, osteoporosis and breast cancer.

(This is TMI, but I stopped producing white or any colored mucus the weekend I became a vegan. It has only been clear and minimal since my conversion last April; not to mention, no sinus pressure or infections since then, whereas I previously had those issues for 22 years straight.)

And that meat consumption is linked to diabetes and prostate cancer.

And that as a vegan, by default, I consume less than 1% of my daily allowance of cholestrol for each day, because there’s not enough cholesterol in plants to register more than 0.99%.

I’ve checked a lot of nutritional labels over the past year, and have yet to find anything I eat (even “fatty” avocados, cashews, and almonds) that registers as more than “0%,” even though plant-based food do contain some cholestrol.

Granted, I personally understand the skepticism…

I’ve mentioned that just a few weeks before becoming a vegan, I made the statement, “Vegan are idiots!” Now here I am, having consumed no animal products in over a year.

Still breathing, full of energy, with no more allergy and sinus problems, with a weaker prescription for my glasses, and am overall healthier than I’ve ever been in my life.

To some, I am a walking contradiction. How can a person who eats no meat, dairy, eggs, or animal bi-products (marshmallows, pudding, candy containing artificial food dyes, etc.) get enough protein, fat, and vitamins?

It could be easy to assume, if nothing else, I’m secretly hungry all the time. Yet I’m not. When I’m hungry, I eat- and then I’m not hungry anymore.

Once I nixed animal products from my diet, I was forced to get the “living” nutrition from the unprocessed fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds that I was previously neglecting because I was instead consuming animal products and pseudo “healthy snacks” like yogurt, granola bars, and diet soda.

As a new wave vegan, who chooses a plant-based diet not necessarily because of animals’ rights but instead because of the obvious health benefits, I want to be a positive, inviting example of our family’s lifestyle.

What I want to do is start making myself more available and present, in real life and on social media, for curious people who have honest, sincere questions about how we live.

In the process, you will learn more about why our family lives the way we do. After all, you and Mommy are almost completely plant-based as well.

I wonder what people will ask me, now that they know that a friendly, mostly sane vegan is giving an open platform to ask questions about our plant-based lifestyle… I’m ready.





Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.


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I Turned 33 On Easter… How Appropriate?

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

At 5:58 this morning, I woke up to you yelling outside my bedroom, “It’s a pink bunny! The one I always wanted!”

Yes, you woke up, before the sun, and discovered your Easter basket.

After Mommy and I watched you officially unpack your Easter Spiderman bucket, then it was my turn…

Yep, I turned 33 today.

I admit it almost seemed a little bit wrong celebrating my birthday on the same day designated by Christians as the day to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

Yet at the same time, it’s pretty interesting because, from what I understand, Christ was 33 years old when He was crucified and resurrected- and here I am, turning 33 on the day that is celebrated.

My birthday was never been on Easter in my lifetime, until today.

So right after you checked out your Easter gifts, I unwrapped my birthday gifts from Mommy- which were perfect, by the way:

A $10 “lunch money” gift card for Whole Foods, two vegan chocolate bars, and a Groupon for Mommy and me to go whitewater rafting on our 6th wedding anniversary in July, while Nana and Papa watch you all day.

Mommy is just so thoughtful.

I had a great 33rd birthday today, even if it means it’s the last year of me being in my “early 30s.”

Being nearly a third of age 100 is fine by me. I feel young… and I know I’ve stil got plenty to learn as human being, and especially as a parent.

You’ll be my age in 30 years. My plan is that these near-daily letters I write to you will help teach you about life lin general, not simply just recap your own life with snazzy collages and cleverly captioned photos.

Great birthday, great Easter.

Your Auntie Dana made you and your cousin Calla some homemade “vegan chocolate peanut butter bunnies” that I think made you cuckoo, as it appears from this pictures.

And if you’re wondering why I’m sitting at “the kids’ table” with you two, it’s because you politely invited me to join you.

So I did.

I ate lunch with the 3 year-olds, instead of the adults.

That was very nice of you to think of me, Son.

Of course, after you celebrated both Easter and your daddy’s birthday, you needed some rest.

Talking you into taking a nap today was unnecessary.













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The Peculiar Public Demand For Non-GMO, Plant-Based Restaurants

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

I get it that “plant-based families” like us live a much different lifestyle than mainstream America, but I know we can still have fun and “be normal.”

And hopefully, these letters I write to you each day demonstrate that.

Granted, we don’t really go to restaurants, and I suppose that’s not normal.

One of the main reasons is we’re too cheap; which I plan to write more about later…

But the biggest reason we don’t go out to eat is because we can’t/don’t trust what’s in the food at most places.

It’s one thing to avoid all animal products (including butter, cheese, eggs, lard, etc.) but for our family, it’s more than that.

We care about avoiding foods with GMOs. We don’t trust foods that have been compromised by Monsanto because we believe they are a science experiment on the human body.

In 2013, one million Americans idenitified themselves as vegan (that’s 2.5% of the population), while another 7.3 million identified as vegetarians. That’s a lot of people, actually.

Well, I would have to assume we’re not the only plant-based Americans who hardly ever visit restaurants anymore…

Mainstream American restaurants like Red Lobster and Abblebee’s have lost us as customers as we’ve began watching documentaries like Forks Over Knives, which clearly spell out the connection between getting cancer and the consumption of animal products; as well as what to eat instead, to still get the nutrition we need- perhaps even getting much more than we were getting before!

So if we’re not spending our money at places like those anymore, where are we spending it instead?

Well, as for our family, at least… we’re not.

In other words, I see a largely untapped market: Non-GMO, plant-based, organic restaurants.

I think there’s a lot of money not being made off of people like us.

But that can be tricky for businesses trying to legitimately invite us in.

I know I wouldn’t take a restaurant seriously if they served soda, which is full of GMOs, chemicals, artificial colors and processed sugar; all of which are ingredients I run from. (Diet soda contains even more chemicals I don’t trust.)

It would sort of be an insult if the place was trying to present itself as not simply just “vegan friendly,” but a Non-GMO, plant-based, organic restaurant.

Perhaps my motto, as a vegan, is a quote from Hippocrates:

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

What that means is that if a businessman was clever enough to start a franchise of restaurants that only sold food that was non-GMO, plant-based, organic, and free of artificial flavors, and colors… and avoided oils and gluten… and didn’t use microwaves

Then I think that businessman could make money off of people like us.

I say that because that’s exactly what happened this past weekend. Mommy found a Groupon for a place called Greens Cafe at Symmetry, here in Nashville.

We loved it so much that we ended up completely missing the Vanderbilt scrimmage game we were so excited about. We showed up as everyone was leaving. Oops.

But it was really nice for the three of us just to hang out at a café for brunch on a Saturday morning and not have to worry about anything; mainly the food, but for me, I was happy that I had no dishes to clean up.

(I may talk about this too much to you in these letters, but I do a lot of dishes. Living the plant-base life means extra dishes, like the food-processor, for example.)

I do predict within the next decade, more places like this vegan café will be springing up; especially in the mainstream franchises.

Did you know I am a prophet?

Not really. I just know there’s money not being made out there and there’s men with slicked-back hair, wearing nice suits, who are eager to start making that money off of families like us.

And I wouldn’t be insulted if they tried.





Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.

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