Posts Tagged ‘ veganism ’

5% Of The World (America) Eats 16.6% Of The World’s Meat

Friday, March 21st, 2014

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

There’s this familiar cliché in which a child doesn’t finish all their food at dinner so one of their parents tells them, “What a shame… there are starving children in China right now.”

The implied concept is that by taking more than we need, it means someone else on the other side of the world (or down the street) will suffer a deficiency of that same commodity.

So if you don’t finish your fruit here in America, in theory, a starving child in China will go without a piece of fruit that he desperately needed for nutrition. Yet somehow, if you don’t waste that piece of fruit, the kid in China doesn’t go without.

I think it is important is to live a lifestyle in which we are constantly asking ourselves, “Am I consuming more here than I actually need? Or do I have enough?”

From food, to water, to clothing, to toys.

As I recently pointed out in an infographic, which I have included again at the bottom of this letter, isn’t it peculiar that Americans consume 1/6th (or 16.6%) of the total meat consumed worldwide even though Americans make up less than 1/20th (or 5%) of the total population?

(That’s more than 3 times our share.)

Nutritionists recommend consuming around 3 ounces of meat per day, for those who choose to consume meat, yet the average American eats about ½ pound of meat (8 ounces) per day; that is nearly 3 times the amount that is recommended for nutrition purposes.

Simply put, America consumes around 3 times more than our share of consumed meat; not only in terms of ratio by population, but also by nutritionists’ standards.

Not to mention, the top leading causes of death in America tend to include heart disease, stroke, Diabetes, and cancer.

So I checked out the website for the Physicians For Social Responsibility, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Here’s what they have to say:

“In the U.S. we are faced with an unprecedented amount of diet related disease including obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. There are many different contributing factors to these illnesses and over consumption of meat produced in unsustainable manners is certainly one of them.

Diets high in red and processed meat have been found to be associated with greater mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Additionally, such a diet is connected to higher rates of Type 2 Diabetes. Red meats are often high in saturated fats which increase cholesterol levels leading to greater risk of heart disease and stroke

Most Americans eat far more than the serving size recommended by the USDA Dietary Guidelines adding to overweight and obesity rates and the other health problems associated with these conditions. By reducing meat consumption and opting for a more balanced diet high in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, these diet-related diseases can be mitigated.”

I believe that with the right mindset, America could begin to learn how to consume enough.

That is a hard word to process, “enough,” because it’s not often easy to know the difference between actual needs and wants versus perceived needs and wants.

Once we begin recognizing when we are taking more than we need, we can begin to figure out how to give that excess to others who actually need our surplus.

Mommy and I recently watched a relevant documentary on Netflix, called I Am, which is about what happens when we as humans take more than we need:

“There is one fundamental law that all of nature obeys that mankind breaks everyday: Nothing in nature takes more than it needs, and when it does, it becomes subject to this law and it dies off… We have a term for something in the human body when it takes more than its share. We call it cancer.”

How can we love our neighbors as ourselves if we have too much while they don’t have enough? Like I said a couple of weeks ago, there is no law that can force people to love each other.

I’m not saying I’ve got it figured out myself, but in teaching you these important lessons in life, I am able to teach myself this lesson on a daily basis.

So when I mutter to you something about kids in a 3rd world country (or in a poverty situation in the next neighborhood over), this is where it’s really coming from.

No, we’re not going to scrape your leftovers into a container and send them to the other kid. Instead, we’re going to put them in the fridge to give you a few days from now.

How can we keep from wasting in our house? My initial thought is that if we have enough to waste, we have too much to begin with.





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


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The Difference Between Vegan And Plant-Based, Part 2

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

3 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

What you didn’t hear me talk about in the first half of this letter was animal rights.

A true vegan, from what I understand, would be more fixated on that factor of it. If I was a vegan by the classic definition of the term, I wouldn’t wear leather or take you to the zoo.

That’s because I’m what is being referenced to as a “new wave vegan,” a phrase I learned from Mike Thelin, the co-founder of Feast Portland, when he spoke to Forbes:

 “The new wave of veganism is more about health than animal welfare. For better or worse, this is why it will have more staying power.”

I jumped on board (with the help of documentaries on Netflix and YouTube including Forks Over Knives, Hungry For Change, Vegucated, The Beautiful Truth, Dying To Have Known, Supersize Me, and Food, Inc.) for health reasons alone, not animal rights.

Another way of labeling me is to say I eat a plant-based diet.

However, I don’t like the word “diet” because it could be construed that I am trying to lose weight or get other people to.

Weight loss is a natural side effect of being a new wave vegan, but by no means has it ever been my motivation.

Granted, I did lose over 35 pounds (from 178 to around 142) and 3 pants sizes (from 34 to 31). Actually, that part of it for me was sort of annoying and expensive because I had to buy a new wardrobe.

Another thing I do differently than a traditional vegan is that I’m not simply not eating animal products; I’m also not eating non-food products, as well.

One example is cellulose, which is actually wood pulp that is non-digestble by human beings. It can be found in bread, cheese, powdered drinks, spice mixes, and maple syrup, and a lot of fast food items; just to name a few sources.

And of course, there are artificial food dyes like Yellow 5 and Red 40, which are made from petroleum (when they’re not made from parasitic bugs, like Crimson Lake) which I run from too.

In other words, I eat nutritious plants from the earth, “the Big 6” (vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds), but not petroleum or sand or trees. I don’t know if an “animal rights vegan” would care so much about those things, like I do.

That helps explain why new wave vegans, especially, are so passionate about avoiding GMOs. If a food is genetically modified, in my eyes, it’s not real food and therefore, I don’t trust it.

Kudos to General Mills this week for announcing they’ve stopped using GMOs in their Original Cheerios. That’s pretty cool of them, actually.

And if food is not organic, either, I’m led to believe it contains traces and effects of pesticides, which are not plant-based food sources either.

I think something else that sets apart a true vegan from a person who is plant-based (or a new wave vegan, like me) is that while I am happy to explain my lifestyle to those who curiously ask about it, I have no desire to convert the free world.

By no means do I think I’m better than anyone else because of what I do or do not eat. Therefore, I’m very deliberate in attempting to not sound condescending when I talk about this.

Honestly, I don’t think a person like me could get the approval of PETA. I mean, sure I care about animals’ rights, but I care more about human rights.

I care about humans having the right to know the truth about avoiding cancer and disease, but only if they ask me about it or are curious to read an entire article I write about it.

Or at least watch any or all of the following documentaries on Netflix: Forks Over Knives, Hungry For Change, Vegucated, The Beautiful Truth, Dying To Have Known, Supersize Me, and Food, Inc.




P.S. The pinto quinoa burger (in picture above) recipe Nonna used is from a blog called Goodness Green: Plant-Based Recipes And Wellness.

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

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5 Reasons Your Facebook Friends Are Going Vegan

Friday, April 5th, 2013

2 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Two days ago on The Huffington Post, an article was published entitled “Interest In Vegan Diets On The Rise: Google Trends Notes Public’s Increased Curiosity In Veganism.”

The title intrigued me, as I have recently been noticing that several of my Facebook friends have been discussing the fact that their families have either began leaning towards being vegans or have recently officially converted.

Sure, maybe I’m more keen to notice, since my own conversion from vegetarianism to veganism a month ago. But after reading the article, I realized it wasn’t just in my head:

“A 2012 study commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group and undertaken by Harris Interactive found that the 2.5 percent of the country identified themselves as “vegan,” up from 1 percent in 2009. That may not seem like a drastic leap, but it is when you consider that the number of vegans has more than doubled in just three years.”

My own downward spiral began with a severe and “incurable” case of eczema which led me to going kosher and cutting out processed sugar, which encouraged me to start actually eating real fruit and veggies.

Then I stopped craving meat because I was eating more whole fruits and vegetables. Then the thought of cheese started grossing me out. Now all the food I eat comes from plants; no animals- no meat, no eggs, no dairy… I even avoid honey.

Now, it’s like I constantly feel a buzz; a buzz in which I am alert, my thoughts are clear and quick, and my sinus and allergy problems have all gone away.

What about the fact I can’t eat birthday cakes or doughnuts or ice cream anymore? I don’t miss those things. I don’t desire to have my mood or physical state of being lifted, because it’s already there.

I don’t want to mess with this buzz. That’s what will happen if I eat animal products again, so I’m not even tempted.

Not to mention, I’m staying plenty full off all the protein, fiber, and nutrients I’m getting from just fruits, vegetables, whole grain rice and pasta, beans, seeds, and plenty of water.

As for my 32nd birthday coming up in a couple weeks, you and Mommy are currently practicing recipes from the vegan recipe blog, Oh She Glows.

So why are vegan Facebook status updates showing up in news feeds? Here’s what I think:

1. More “normal” people are doing it now, not just expected stereotypes. (Am I considering myself as one of the normal ones?)

2. This may disprove the sentence before this one, but more celebrities are now vegan and that influences the rest of us sometimes more than we realize.

3. The majority of daily Facebook users are from “Generation Why,” as in, “Why am I eating mysterious ingredients that are linked to obesity, depression, hyperactivity, cancer, and diabetes?”

4. Netflix streaming, which was quite instrumental in my conversion, is providing us with information we didn’t have access to before; like about the treatment of the animals we eat, the relationship between eating animal proteins and cancer, and realizing that plants themselves provide all the nutrition we need to begin with.  I challenge anyone to watch all the following documentaries and keep from going vegan:

Supersize Me, Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Hungry For A Change.

5. The price of meat is rising, even with factory-farmed animals eating that infamous Monsanto corn.

Knowing that the number of vegans has more than doubled in the past three years alone, I wonder what will happen in the next three years… especially if seemingly normal people keep talking about it on Facebook.





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Proof I’ve Deprived My Kid Of Fast Food (And Meat In General)

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

2 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Fate would have it that your parents would become vegetarians right around the time you would be old enough to start eating meat; back in December 2011.

Now that I’ve fully converted to veganism, your chances of trying chicken nuggets anytime in the near future look pretty bleak.

But here’s the thing: You really have no concept of eating animals. A vegetarian diet is all you know.

Yesterday we received some coupons in the mail for a fast food restaurant. You saw a picture of a combo meal, consisting of a burger, fries, and a soda. Your reaction:

“What this called, Mommy?”

This past weekend while you were hanging out at an indoor playground, you discovered the pretend kitchen. After toasting the plastic peas in the pink toaster, you found a plastic chicken leg.

“What this called, “Daddy?”

I quickly responded without thinking about how weird my answer would be.

You were confused, but you tried not to question it, as you are still fairly new to the human experience:

“That’s fried chicken leg? Chicken leg.” You walked away with the plastic chicken leg in your hand, trying to figure out why a human being is supposed to play with a random body part of an animal.

I am trying to put myself in your shoes, simply thinking that all those animals on Old McDonald’s farm are just his pets and nothing more.

It’s going to be weird for me the day you’re old enough to understand that certain animals are a protein source for the 97% of Americans who are not vegetarians or vegans.

I wonder: At what point in your life will you finally eat meat; with the knowledge of what it actually is. If ever.

Aside from your parents’ influence, are you still a vegetarian? I’m sure the truth will come out in your teenage years.





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Happy 2.333rd Birthday! (A Year After Your Febrile Seizure)

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

2 years, 4 months. (Or, 2.333 years.)

Dear Jack,

While many people somewhat recognize half-birthdays and ages, they certainly don’t acknowledge thirds of birthdays and ages. But if they did, I would bring to your attention that today is your 2.333rd birthday; if I’m even saying that right.

Also, it was a year ago today that you had your febrile seizure. You haven’t had another one since; in fact, the last time you were even sick at all was last July.

As your dad, I am so grateful and thankful for your health, safety, and general well-being.

I don’t worry about you, but I am constantly aware of what precious cargo you are and how I responsible I need to be for you.

This morning I woke up from a nightmare that you got lost at a public swimming pool, though I was there with you. I think that was my subconscious reinforcing my constant awareness of keeping you safe and healthy.

Today while Mommy went “vegan shopping” at Whole Foods Market, I hung out with you at your favorite indoor playground nearby. While we were there, I eventually had to use the restroom.

I realize it probably would have been fine to have a fellow parent (yet complete stranger) watch you for those two minutes, but it’s just not something I think I could ever bring myself to do.

So I brought you into the bathroom with me, basically forcing you to watch. You were happy because I let you flush.

Speaking of your 2.333rd birthday, it was about 3 years ago that Mommy and I found out we were having you. We thought we were going to have a little girl…

Now 3 years later, we are so proud to have a noise with dirt on it… that is, a little boy named Jack who is currently obsessed with monster trucks and The Beatles.







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