Dad Bod Vegan Weight Gain: The Struggle is Real (The War against Saturated Fat, Not Just Cholesterol)

It’s been over a week now since I revealed that I can barely fit into most of my pants anymore, as I have gradually gained weight; even though I’ve been a vegan since March 2013. While my size 31 pants comfortably fit for the first couple of years of my vegan lifestyle, that began slowly changing around the time my wife become pregnant with our daughter, in June 2015.

I began eating more desserts with my pregnant wife, like vegan chocolate bars and vegan cake. The calorie increase didn’t stop after our daughter was born in April 2016, or since then.

It didn’t help that I found a loophole in the vegan lifestyle in that it’s actually fairly easy to eat at Mexican restaurants. Most Mexican restaurants cook their food with vegetable oil now, instead of lard. And most Mexican restaurants have a veggie fajita option. So I would just order that, without the cheese or sour cream. (But that’s still a lot of oil!) Plus, most Mexican restaurants around here have cheap Margaritas. (That translates as extra sugar!)

Yes, I had been living the life of a vegan king.

I had taken advantage of all the ways to increase my fats and proteins without eating any meat, eggs, or dairy. All the while, I was never consuming more than 0% of my daily cholesterol intake. And I was so successful, that I gained enough weight to keep from fitting in to my pants.

So how do you lose weight when you’re already a vegan, but only 3 pounds away from being overweight?

This past week, I went back to the mindset of when I first became a vegan 4 and a half years ago. I asked myself, “What was I doing then, that I haven’t been doing the past couple of years?”

Ultimately, 5 things came to mind:

1.      I was mountain biking back then, not running.

2.      I wasn’t consuming as much chocolate or peanut butter or sweets.

3.      Instead of having the equivalent of a glass of wine or 2 a day, I only had that much per week.

4.      I was actually eating lunch every day; typically leftovers from dinner the night before. Compare that to the past couple of years, I’ve either just eaten oatmeal or sometimes Ramen.

5.      I wasn’t drinking orange juice back then, as my eczema was still remission at the time. 

So to simplify that even more…

I was A) doing exercise that engaged more of my muscle groups, including my core, B) I was consuming less saturated fat, and C) I was consuming less sugar, whether in the form of desserts or alcohol.

This past week has served a sort of trial run for figuring out how I need to make adjustments to what I thought was already a strict diet.

One of the huge discoveries I made this week is that by default, I was subconsciously consuming foods with higher amounts of saturated fats; despite consuming 0% of my daily cholesterol allowance. It was my body’s way of finding ways to consume extra calories, since I had stopped eating a solid lunch.

I realized that the cocoa powder, peanut butter, and coconut milk had high percentages of my daily saturated fat intake; along with the chocolate I was consuming in my oatmeal each day. In theory, I was easily consuming more than 100% of my daily saturated fat intake each day.

On top of that, the sugar from the alcohol and the orange juice was helping ensure that the extra saturated fat I was consuming was staying in my body.

And even with all the running I was doing, my body wasn’t getting the overall workout that mountain biking can do for me.

This are the things I taught myself this week. So obviously, there are permanent changes I have begun applying, which will get me back to my proper pants size of 31.

For my breakfast smoothie, I have switched to unsweetened vanilla almond milk; as almonds have much less saturated fat than coconuts. I have also switched to carob powder, as it contains zero fat, as compared to a decent amount of saturated fat in cocoa powers. And as for the peanut butter in my smoothie, instead of using a huge heaping spoon of it, I’m barely using a tablespoon of it now.

Similarly, for my oatmeal, I’m switching to almonds, instead of trail mix; which contains peanuts and dried fruit which is high in process sugar.

As for alcohol, I have literally been drinking only one ounce of wine after dinner; as a way of symbolically finishing my meal, and my calorie consumption, for the day. I have not consumed any vegan treats this week either. And I’m back on the mountain bike, as opposed to running.

I am proud to share my story with the world. This is the “before” part of the story. I will eventually get to the “after”, but first, I have to earn it.

In the process, I will prove that I can predictably get back to those size 31 pants, by permanently adjusting my lifestyle, and without going hungry.

And again, the obvious irony, is that while there are still people out there who believe vegans don’t get enough protein, I’m having to proactively and aggressively figure out how to lose the weight I’ve gained during the years of my vegan lifestyle.

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Vegan Friendly Review of Boone, North Carolina: Featuring the Best Veggie Burger I’ve Ever Had in My Life!

As the Manliest Vegan on the Internet, I revealed this week that I can no longer fit into my size 31 pants, despite being a vegan for 4 and a half years. That’s right, I have undeniable gained weight and gained a dad bod. Looking back, it might have had something to do with my family recent “Road Trip to the Boonies” in the 2017 Toyota Sienna.

Why go to Gatlinburg when you can just go to Boone, North Carolina instead? Seriously, Boone is undeniably a vegan-friendly city and it also has the private woodsy atmosphere of Gatlinburg.

Sure, we cooked some of our own meals in the cabin, but we definitely enjoyed visiting some of the many vegan-friendly restaurants in Boone.

Let me start my proclaiming that I’ve now had the best veggie burger of my life! It was at a place called BBQ, Burgers, & Brews, just a few miles from the cabin where we were staying.

Openly, I admit: I didn’t specifically ask the waitress if the veggie burger was vegan. That’s how I am when I am travelling. I turn a blind eye to the possibility there are add whites in the veggie burger, knowing that traces of egg whites are consistent with the “0% cholesterol” aspect of my vegan lifestyle.

Why was this veggie burger so awesome? Let me tell you…

First off, the bun. It was big and round with sesame seeds; reminding me of what a good hamburger bun is supposed to taste like. (Again, there may have been traces of egg in the bun as well, but I didn’t ask.)

Next, the veggie burger was topped perfectly with the classic veggies I want on a burger: Lettuce, onion, and tomato.

As for the burger patty itself, it tastes so good that I legitimately feared they accidentally had served me beef. However, I’m confident wasn’t actually meat because after nearly 6 years of not eating meat, I speculate my digestive system would have immediately rejected any meat.

(Needless to say, I had no digestion issues whatsoever during my trip. Of course, becoming a vegan over 4 years ago pretty much illuminated all those problems. Before I stopped eating meat, I suffered reoccurring stomach and sinus issues.)

Lastly, the BBQ sauce! Seriously, that stuff was legit. My brother-in-law, who was sitting next to me, joked that he should see if he could get a huge gallon size container of it. My favorite was the BBQ mustard, though there were several options including sweet, spicy, and vinegar based.

But I can’t not talk about the fries and the onion petals!

Though I love fried pickles, which were also on the menu, I decided to upgrade my side (for an extra dollar or so) from fries to onion pedals. Like the burger, they went so well with the BBQ sauce.

Lucky for me though, my son didn’t finish all his fries, so I got to try them as well. They are my favorite style: big and crispy.

I endorse BBQ, Burgers, & Brews 100% percent. In fact, if you don’t visit them on your next visit to Boone, North Carolina, then it would be a crying shame. Ah, I already miss that place! But it wasn’t the only great place for plant-based food.

In addition to picking up some vegan groceries from Fresh Market and Ingles supermarkets to make meals back at the cabin…

There was of course Mellow Mushroom, a fine establishment we visit on every single road trip in the South…

And the extremely vegan-friendly Barberitos, where my family perfectly loved our burritos.

I also want to point out the glory of Higher Grounds, where we all stopped for coffee each morning. I particularly loved their spicy Mexican Mocha. But of course I would, as my recent DNA test confirmed I am like 53% Latino.

It was a fun place for the whole family to hang out before we began our activities for the day.

There you have it. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, go to Boone, North Carolina right now.

Just pass “go” and just pass Gatlinburg… you’ll enjoy Boone more anyway.

If Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein, Why Can’t I Fit into My Size 31 Pants Anymore? 5 Ways To Get Rid of My New “Dad Bod”

Amazingly, in the year 2017, there are still people who still assume vegans don’t get enough protein. They should just take a look at me then.

For the first time in the 4 and a half years I’ve been a vegan, and more than a year of being a vegetarian before that, I can no longer fit into my size 31 pants, which is the size I moved down to when I converted to the plant-based lifestyle. Even size 32 is becoming an issue now.

It would be one thing if I never exercised, but that’s clearly not the case. I have been very vocal about how for years now, I have been mountain biking, walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day, doing pull-ups, and even adding skateboarding to the mix this year.

Plus, all this summer, I have been running 2 miles, at least twice a week; even in 93 degree weather or rain.

Even this past Saturday while our family was on fall vacation, I ran down and then back up the mountain our cabin was on (the equivalent of 2 miles), without ever stopping. Later, I saw a very muscular guy who looked younger than I am, attempting to run the same course, but he had to stop to walk.

I’m healthy and I’m physically fit, especially for a 36 year-old… but I’m also gaining weight.

For a guy who consumes 0% of his daily cholesterol allowance, and who gets all his protein and nutrients from simply vegetables, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, it would be easy to believe that a guy like me would have no issues with my pants no longer fitting.

Clearly, I’m getting enough protein. And enough exercise.

The fundamental problem? I’m simply consuming more calories than my body actually needs; even with all the exercise and my 0% cholesterol vegan lifestyle.

If I am to get back to size 31, I suppose it’s a matter of deliberately changing my lifestyle again, in addition to remaining vegan and continuing my regular exercise routine:

  1. Eating smaller meals and not going back for seconds.
  2. Not having vegan desserts anymore, like cashew ice cream and vegan chocolate bars.
  3. Eating whole fruit after dinner, to take the place of going back for seconds or dessert.
  4. Using balsamic vinegar for salad dressing again, so I can further cut out oils from my diet.
  5. Nearly nixing alcohol intake all together.

I am currently 167 pounds, which nearly puts me in the “overweight” category. I am 3 pounds away from being overweight. I am not okay with this. For me, it’s an attack on my identity. I have control over my weight… my weight doesn’t control me. I don’t have to settle for an expanding waistline just because, “This is just what happens when you start getting older.”

It’s funny because, in theory, I don’t eat a lot anyway:

My homemade smoothie and black coffee in the morning, my oatmeal or vegan ramen noodles at lunch, and a solid meal at dinner consisting of whatever Italian or Mexican dish my wife prepares along with a dark green salad. And the equivalent of a glass of wine or two.

No meat, no fish, no eggs, no milk, no cheese, no yogurt.

But it’s time to reduce my intake, so that I can also reduce my waist size and comfortably fit into my size 31 pants again.

I am not a victim. I am victorious. I shall overcome!

So yeah… I think it’s safe to say that as a vegan, I’m getting enough protein.

Nashville’s Sunflower Vegetarian Café Also Caters to Vegan, Gluten-Free, & Oil-Free Dietary Restrictions

As The Manliest Vegan on the Internet, I have toured America in search of cities that cater to people with plant-based lifestyles like mine, from Lake Tahoe, California; to Asheville, North Carolina; to Atlanta, Georgia; to Pensacola and Destin, Florida; to Louisville, Kentucky, just to name a few.

But despite living in a bedroom community outside of Music City, I have pretty much not mentioned Nashville, Tennessee… until now.

Over the weekend, I made my way to Nashville’s Sunflower Vegetarian Café, which is fairly close to the I-65 exit, and fairly close to the Nashville Zoo. I have been craving a homemade garden burger (a vegan burger made of veggies, nuts, and/or nuts) ever since our family road tripped to Louisville last month but our schedule did not allow for it.

At last, I got my manly garden burger. For my side, I chose collard greens, and I am so glad I did!

Not only does Nashville’s Sunflower Vegetarian Café cater to my vegan needs, but they are very open and upfront about how their menu is friendly to anyone seeking food made without oils, gluten, or meat. They also have a children’s menu, as well.

So if you’re looking for a good vegan or vegetarian restaurant that also caters to anyone looking to avoid oils and gluten, but don’t want to drive into downtown Nashville to do so, I say just head over to Nashville’s Sunflower Vegetarian Café. The parking there is free and easy, too. Just drive behind the restaurant.

You will immediately feel welcomed and accepted just as you are. No one at Nashville’s Sunflower Vegetarian Café thinks you’re weird or sees you as a label on the fringe of society. You don’t have to explain the reason for your dietary choices. It’s a really great environment.

And obviously, the food is superb. I am very much looking forward to going back!

Freshening Up Mealtime with Moe’s; Even for Vegetarian/Vegan Families Like Ours

Anyone who has been reading my blog for the past couple of years knows that I frequently mention Moe’s Southwest Grill. Not only is it a ritual for my son Jack and I have dinner there right after we go see a movie together, but last November when my wife and I told him he could go anywhere to celebrate his 6th birthday dinner, he chose Moe’s– with no hesitation! Yes, that’s a true story.

In a time when parents are paying more attention than ever to what’s in the food their family is eating (for example, steering clear of GMO’s) and how it’s prepared, while at the same time catering to any particular dietary needs (like how I’m a vegan but my wife and kids are vegetarians), as well as, the often picky eating habits of children, Moe’s has naturally become our stress-free, go-to place.

Over the weekend, our 1 year-old daughter wasn’t quite feeling herself, so my wife Jill wrote down a lunch order that we could pick up and bring back to the house.

Once we arrived at Moe’s, I asked Jack, “Same thing as always, right?” He confirmed, having just mumbled back to the staff, “Welcome to Moe’s…”

The nice young man across the counter/food prep station began making Jack’s “cheese only” quesadilla and my wife’s vegetarian taco salad (cheese is the thing that keeps my wife from being a vegan like I am).

I got my usual: the “earmuffs with tofu”.  It’s a delicious bowl full of rice and beans, with tofu and mushrooms as my protein, along with grilled onions and peppers. (All proteins, whether meat or not, are grilled on a consistent production stream so they’re hot and ready as soon as you order.)

Then I build a salad on top, with salsa and guacamole; both of which are prepared from scratch daily. It’s a great dichotomy of warm protein on the bottom and chilled greens on top.

So in case you’re wondering, that’s what such a manly vegan as myself eats at Moe’s. With over 20 fresh and flavorful ingredients to customize my meal; there are just so many options. It’s quite a colorful masterpiece on my plate!

I let Jack pick out our table, then I made my way to the salsa bar (which is a must). Not only is all the salsa and guacamole prepared from scratch daily, but they always have extremely spicy options for pepper heads like me.

As we enjoyed our lunch together, I looked over and caught Jack dancing to Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit, “Beat It.” That tends to happen a lot when I take him to Moe’s. After all, did you know that Moe’s is actually an acronym for “Musicians, Outlaws, and Entertainers”?

 

 

Before we headed back home, we made our way back up to the counter to put in a to-go order for our family’s dinner. I ordered burritos for my wife and myself, while Jack predictably ordered another cheese quesadilla; being the picker eater he is.

My wife was delighted to see us return with not only an easy dinner, but also, her lunch. She reminded me several times not to forget the chips, which are flash-fried daily and come free and unlimited, along with the salsa as well.

So for dinner last Saturday night, we reheated the burritos and quesadilla in our oven. It is such a glorious thing to know you can eat a meal in your own home, yet not have to worry with a sink full of dishes.

Our family proudly supports Moe’s, as each one is locally owned and operated; which yields that true hometown feel. And even though we have dietary needs that most can barely cater to, Moe’s makes it easy for us. It’s family dining. It’s easy dining.

Have you been to Moe’s recently? We have.

 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Moe’s Southwest Grill;

however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

What Do Vegans Eat for the 4th of July? Just Ask Me, The Manliest Vegan on the Internet!

It’s understood in our American culture that a real man takes pride in eating bacon, sausage, and beef.

Especially on July 4th. He simply (and ironically) laughs in the face of high cholesterol and onset diabetes.

Why? Because it’s manly to eat meat.

And because… ‘Merica!

How else could a man possibly get enough protein?

However, I am currently taking America by storm, as I am stumping both scientists and sociologists alike…

They are being forced to take notice that I am in deed the manliest vegan on the Internet, yet I am still alive and well.

Miraculously, I am perfectly in the correct height/weight/age range. I not overweight nor underweight. In other words… I’m getting enough protein.

How is it that I am not a walking skeleton? Why does I seem so happy and content in life? 

I am currently baffling our nation, as Americans everywhere are trying to wrap their minds around the fact that I haven’t eaten any pork (which includes bacon and sausage) in 8 and a half years, any meat at all in 5 and a half years, and no eggs or dairy in over 4 years.

My protein comes from six sources:

Veggies, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

So what does a manly vegan eat on July 4th? Whatever I want, as long as it consists of veggies, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

For this July 4th, my wife made a vegan lasagna (containing noodles and veggies) and some vegan sausage by Field Roast Grain Meat Co. as well. And I liked it.

I didn’t feel left out. I didn’t feel victimized. And I didn’t feel jealous.

Why? Because I am the manliest vegan on the Internet.

Instead, other men surely felt left out that they are not part of my manly vegan club.

(Mic dropped.)

 

Louisville, Kentucky is Definitely a Vegan Friendly City: Officially Endorsed by The Manly Vegan (That’s Me, Obviously!)

Fact #1: I am the manliest (and most humble) vegan on the Internet- and the entire world refuses to refute my claims.

Fact #2: Your family will have no issues finding plant-based, cholesterol-free food in Louisville, Kentucky.

Just a little over a month ago I proclaimed that Destin, Florida is still not a vegan-friendly town; after my 2nd visit there in 2 years. But being the emotionally intelligent man I am, and being a man who understands how the free market works, I quickly acknowledged that it’s not Destin’s fault they don’t cater to vegans:

There is simply not a demand in Destin for vegan food. Destin instead attracts a lot of families with young kids who are okay with feeding their families fast food.

Louisville, Kentucky is the complete opposite. It attracts enough crazy people like me; people who depend on veggies, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds for their nutrition; as opposed to animal products.

I was extremely impressed by Louisville’s Whole Foods. One of the best I’ve seen, actually! Not only was it conveniently close to the Louisville Zoo where my family was visiting, as we ventured in the ever-manly 2017 Toyota 4Runner, but the Louisville Whole Foods had the most impressive array of vegan baked goods; including vegan donuts, which I have found are rare beyond the West Coast.

By the way, my wife and kids are vegetarians; not vegan.

Something peculiar, in a good way, that I noticed about the Louisville Whole Foods was this:

There were are lot of older people shopping there. I have never seen so many healthy, fit senior citizens in one place.

It was such a delight. Because that will be me in 20 years. I will be the healthy, fit 56 year-old vegan jogging man. Forget migrating to Florida when I retire! I just need to find my way back to Louisville!

My only regret is that I didn’t get a chance to try the alluring vegan jerky of Stan Chase’s Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.

I did, however, manage to quickly snap pictures of his vegan jerky options for future reference. By the way: Stan, if you’re reading this, and want to send me some samples, I would be honored to do a special blog post, and YouTube video, featuring your product…

After all, I am the manliest vegan on the Internet, as we’ve already well established. I am clearly the perfect demographic fit for your jerky.

So yes, fellow vegans of America… go to Louisville, Kentucky.. You belong there.

There are plenty of options of places you can eat, like Chuy’s, where I enjoyed the veggie fajitas; which I ordered without sour cream or cheese.

Ah, I am just so happy. So happy to know that despite my major disappointment in Destin, the ying to the yang exists in Louisville.

Fact #3: Louisville, Kentucky is man enough for the Manly Vegan.

Fact #4: Destin, Florida is not.

Fact #5: I am very curious about vegan jerky now.