Are American Restaurants Still Ignoring Vegans as Potential Customers? As a Millennial Vegan Daddy Blogger, I Say Yes.

Today I was contacted by a brand promoter for Applebee’s, who invited me to participate in their newest campaign, “There’s No Shame in Being a Meat and Potatoes Man.” I would have received a gift card for my family to dine at Applebee’s, as I promoted the following options for the modern Meat-and-Potatoes Dad:

Topped Steaks & Twisted Potatoes Line-Up:

  • 3 Steak Choices:  6 ounce USDA Choice Top Sirloin, 8 ounce USDA Choice Top Sirloin, 12 ounce USDA Choice Top Sirloin
  • 3 Steak Topper Choices:  Tavern Mushroom & Onion, Savory Herb & Butter Sauce, Creamy Horseradish & Gravy Topper
  • 3 Twisted Potato Side Choices (pick 1):  Twisted Tots, Loaded Potato Casserole Back, Loaded Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • 1 Perfect Side: Fresh Broccoli

Hey, I would have appreciated the free meal for my family and would have had a lot of fun promoting Applebee’s here on my blog. One small problem, though…

I am a vegan and my wife and kids are vegetarians.

It’s not that big of a deal that I don’t eat meat. Not eating meat or animal products (for health reasons, not necessarily for animals’ rights), is becoming somewhat normal. In fact, this past summer Moe’s Southwest Grill actually hired me as a freelance writer to promote how vegan-friendly and vegetarian-friendly their menu is.

Some restaurants, like Moe’s Southwest Grill, are able to perceive a shift has occurred in the eating habits of health conscious Millennials, like myself, and how that has an effect on my family’s spending habits at restaurants.

When you Google “how much of the American population is vegan?”, one of the top answers that shows up is an article from onegreenplanet.org, which claims that there currently 6 million vegans in America!

And that in itself is a 6% increase since 2014, when only 1% of the American population identified as vegan. That’s a significant increase!

Isn’t 6% of the population significant enough that restaurants would at least try to cater to folks like us?
My guess is, apparently not. Apparently there are people who are better than I am at math (and who have done enough market research) and have decided that vegans aren’t worth the trouble to get in their restaurants; even though we currently account for 6% of the American population.
Imagine all that collective money that American restaurants aren’t making from families like mine. Oh well.
With that being said, here’s my casting call to any restaurants out there who would like a Millennial vegan daddy blogger with good SEO on his blog to promote the “vegan-friendly” aspect of their restaurant.
Any takers?

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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.

Dear Holly: Sharing Spinach Snacks with Your Brother’s Dinosaur? Or Simply Making Them Disappear Another Way?…

1 year, 2 months.

Dear Holly,

Tuesday when I came home from work, the first thing you and Mommy and your brother did was check out our new ride for this week, the 2017 Toyota 4Runner. Twenty minutes later, we finally made our way back into the kitchen.

While Mommy made pizza, and your brother made fossils from his dinosaur toys and Play-Doh, I helped feed you a new bar that Mommy picked up last weekend at Kroger: Happy Tot Organics Fiber & Protein Soft-Baked Oat Bar, Apples and Spinach flavor.

I told Mommy, “Wow, look at Holly! She really likes this apple and spinach snack bar. We need to keep buying these!”

As I was pinching off little clusters for you so that could easily consume them, I noticed you were really intrigued by what your brother was doing with his dinosaurs.

So I borrowed one that had an open mouth, and stuffed one of the clusters in it. You loved the challenge of using your little fingers to remove the green food from the Triceratops’ mouth. To heighten the theatrics of the event, I made low-pitch growling sounds, in an effort to convince you that he dinosaur was wrestling you for the food.

You growled back and you ate the bar, cluster by cluster.

Finally, the bar was gone and I had to open a 2nd one for you!

A few clusters into it though, you finally had your fill. At that point, I took you out of your high chair and we played on the carpet with your toys until dinner was ready.

Fast forward to about an hour and a half later, after you and your brother were asleep, and Mommy and I were finishing up cleaning the kitchen.

As Mommy was wiping down your high chair, she commented, “Either Holly dropped a lot of these bits from that bar… or she was hiding them down here the whole time!”

Hmmm…

Holly, you may have done an excellent job of successfully convincing me you were actually eating those apple and spinach bars. Perhaps I was so caught up in playing dinosaur with you, that you were secretly just dropping the clusters beside you without me ever realizing it.

If so, nicely done!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Hunted and Gathered Some “Baby Biscuits” for Breakfast Saturday Morning

1 year.

Dear Holly,

These are the days of you scouting underneath the kitchen table for any Cheerios you may have dropped earlier. You’re very good at finding them, by the way. And every time you discover a forsaken Cheerio, you proudly extend your little hand and pick it up like a crane machine lifting a toy out of the machine at Mellow Mushroom.

It is very obvious that at your school, you are learning to eat with your hands. I’ve noticed here recently that when I try to feed you veggie and fruit puree with the spoon, you’re starting to resist my help.

As if to sternly yet politely tell me, “Thank you, Daddy, for trying to help me eat dinner. But as you can see, I am actually able to feed myself…”

Often this leads to you cupping your hands to scoop the food out of the bowl. Yeah, it makes a mess, but I’m happy to see you attempt to be a girl her who can feed herself.

But you don’t simply snoop around for Cheerios to feed yourself, as I learned this past Saturday.

As Mommy was shopping for groceries at Kroger, you and I were upstairs in the bonus room with Jack, who was watching a dinosaur documentary on Netflix called Dinotasia.

For a while, you were content to just walk between the red footstool and the couch, as you braced yourself when necessary. You were so quiet, as to respect the fact your brother was in the zone as he learned more about dinosaurs.

Then I heard the rattling of a plastic wrapper for the non-GMO fig bars your brother eats: Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars. I didn’t think much of it. I just figured you liked manipulating the sound that an empty wrapper could make.

But then the rattling ceased, and I saw your little fist clenching one of the bars, and I saw how it was soggy on one end…

You had taken it upon yourself to find your own breakfast! I continued to watch you, and sure enough, you were able to successfully download the food you had found, just lying there.

Since you did such a good job finding and eating your own “baby biscuit”, I ran downstairs and got you a new pack of them.

Without surprise, you were able to chew and slobber your way through those baby biscuits as well, with just those two teeth on bottom and three coming in through the top.

Holly is a hunter-gatherer!

Love,

Daddy

Top 10 Reasons My “Diet” is Consistently Successful (from a Non-Vegan, Non-Vegetarian Perspective)

I have a healthy relationship with food. I eat all throughout the day and I never choose to go hungry. I am happy with my weight. I am perfectly in the proper BMI range for my height, weight, and age.

Clearly, what I am doing is working, when it comes to my diet and lifestyle. But as I share my strategy today, I am deliberately not going talk about being a vegetarian or a vegan, in an effort to help more people. True, I can not deny that much of this info is what I taught myself about a healthy lifestyle only after I became a vegan in March 2013. Still, I promise to refrain from specifically mentioning not eating meat, eggs, or dairy…

Here are the top 10 reasons my “diet” is still successful:

1) I never choose to go hungry. If I’m hungry, I eat. Going hungry means I would subconsciously choose to fill up on empty calories later to make up the difference.

2) I know the difference between being healthy and being overweight. Our American pop culture has confused us, making us belief that as long as we accept our bodies and find beauty within, that we can ignore the fact we still may be physically unhealthy on the inside too; beautiful or not.

3) I know the sources of protein that contain 0% cholesterol. Vegetables, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds all contain protein, yet do not contribute any amount to the daily percentage of my daily cholesterol intake.

4) I chose good fats instead of bad fats. Cutting out all fat or even most fat is not healthy, as the human body thrives on fat consumption. However, fat from plants like avocados, almonds, and sunflower seeds contains 0% cholesterol.

5) I chose good sugars instead of bad sugars. Throughout the day, I am consuming fresh fruit, which is packed with natural sugar, along with fiber and some protein. That is good sugar. Bad sugar is any kind of sugar added to or processed with other food.

6) I find a way to exercise daily. Forget the gym. I don’t need it. I run, I ride my mountain bike, I walk, and I even skateboard. I do one or more of these things on a daily basis. I am always on the move.

7) I focus on a healthy lifestyle, not on losing weight. I have learned that by having a healthy relationship with food and exercise, I naturally have maintained my 20 pounds of weight loss from several years ago.

8) I am black and white about the gray areas. When I do chose to eat something unhealthy, I know how often and when- for those truly special occasions. In other words, I don’t keep potato chips, soda, or Oreos in the house. And no, a “truly special occasion” is not “whenever I’ve had a bad day.” I do not eat my feelings.

9) I have realistic standards and reasonable expectations. I don’t need 6 pack abs. I don’t need to compete with the looks of Hollywood. Instead, I focus on actually being healthy, not winning a beauty contest.

10) My “diet” is permanent. Going on a diet to lose to lose weight is an obvious set-up for the weight to return, once the diet is ended. The only way a diet will provide consistent results is to make it a permanent lifestyle, instead of a diet.

All of that information sounds reasonable, right? Who would actually argue with any of those 10 habits? It’s all legit stuff.

I’m not a physician. I’m not an expert. But I am healthy and I do know what I’m talking about.

My life, year after year, is the proof.

True, I am the Manly Vegan… but I can help non-vegans too.

This is 36: Can I Just Eat My Garlic & Pepper Ramen Noodles in Peace?!

After we put our kids to bed last night, as my wife and I were finishing up doing the the dishes, we were discussing how apparently impossible it is just to eat lunch in peace while at work. Seriously, it’s difficult!

Though we work in offices about 20 miles apart from each other each day, my wife and I live by the same daily habits when he comes to our eating routines: We typically just eat snacks during the work day: I make a smoothie each morning, then have oatmeal during lunch. My wife takes cut up fruit and veggies and hummus.

Then after work, we come home and have a good, solid, healthy meal each night for dinner. That’s what our norm is.

So when we occasionally have a “fun day” and take Ramen Noodles to work, it freaks people out. They can’t handle it. Chaos always follows:

“What’cha eatin’ there? Ramen noodles?”

“Mmmm…. something smells good. Let me take a look in your bowl…”

“Oh, what’s that smell? It’s so strong. It smells like onions or something. Ugh…”

“You can eat Ramen noodles? I don’t know vegans could eat pasta!”

“I thought you ate healthy food. What are you doin’ eatin’ that?”

I think the solution is that I need to acquire some kind of secret military grade invisibility cloak.

That might be the only way to get people who are so easily entertained by the sight of another human being eating Ramen noodles to keep just walking by.

I’ve already lost my ability to listen to CDs in my car each day on my 2 hour round trip commute. I feel like I don’t ask for much at this point.

Ramen noodles. In solitude.

Don’t take this away from me. I need this.

No commentary. No questions. No fascination.

Just let me eat my Ramen noodles in peace.

This is 36.

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

Thanksgiving 2008 was the last time I ate ham, bacon, or any kind of pork; or shellfish of any kind- like shrimp, lobster, crab, or scallops. In other words, since the day after Thanksgiving 2008, I became and have remained kosher. That’s been 8 years now.

Since then, I only further slid down the slippery slope; eventually becoming and remaining a vegetarian in December 2011 and a vegan in April 2013.

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

What makes this particularly interesting is that I am a male. Our American culture teaches and accepts that eating bacon and beef is a particularly masculine thing to do. Most American vegetarians and vegans are females. So therefore, my being a male vegan is especially counter-cultural.

Granted, I feel no less masculine despite what I (don’t) eat.

It was exactly five years ago today I decided to adopt an American alternative lifestyle: I stopped eating meat. Somewhat to my surprise, my wife immediately joined me in my crazy decision. And our 1 year-old son got thrown into it as well.

Now he’s 6 years-old and has no interest in eating meat. I should also point out my wife and I also have a 7 month-old daughter now, who currently is a vegetarian by default.

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

I have to say this, though: Becoming a vegetarian is not a choice I want you to make- nor do I need you to become a vegetarian either. I want to be very clear about that.

Instead, I beg you to keep eating sausage, bacon, burgers, and fried chicken. In fact, I cordially invite you to stop reading this immediately and eat a big juicy McRib right now. Yes, I endorse that…

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

Why wouldn’t I? What other families eat has nothing to do with me- just like I could care less which candidate anybody else voted for in the recent election. My emotional state of being wouldn’t change no matter the outcome.

I’m like Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive: “I don’t care!”

Proving that being a vegetarian is the better way of life is no agenda of mine. In fact, I envy eat meaters. I seriously do.

If you’re part of the majority of America, meaning that you are not a vegetarian, then you get to eat meat. Whenever you want. As much as you want. You have much more freedom than I do- and you have a certain kind of happiness in your life that I’ll never again enjoy: the scandalous feeling of devouring a cheeseburger.

As for me, I have learned I can’t be trusted with such responsibility.

I have learned that when it comes to eating meat, I have never nor would I ever just simply eat the maximum 4 to 7 ounces serving per day that nutritionists recommend. I always ate least double that; each meal, every meal.

Mentally, I’m not strong enough to overcome the desire to keep eating meat. I was never truly satisfied with meat… there was never enough no matter how much I ate.

The irony is that by restricting myself to no meat at all, I can be in control of my desires and my appetite. Because that way, there’s not room for gray. There’s no possibility of eating too much meat if I can’t have meat at all.

My protein comes from 6 main sources: vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

I will openly admit to having very selfish motives to becoming a vegetarian: It’s an easy way to manage my weight, I never have indigestion issues anymore, and it led to me becoming a vegan; which ultimately wiped out my ongoing eczema, sinus issues, and pet allergies.

Those personal issues have nothing to do with the rest of the world. Instead, my reasons are self-centered. So there is no need to try convert anyone. I’m simply selfish in my reasons for being a vegetarian.

Perhaps I would be a better human being if I did care more; if I did spend some efforts in trying to convince people to be healthier by cutting out meat from their diets.

But I’m simply uninspired. I learned early on that most people are still convinced that by becoming a vegetarian, they will not get enough protein in their diet.

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

Clearly, I’ve proved that theory to be false in my own life. After all, I’ve lived this for 5 solid years. I would know!

Sure, I lost weight when I became a vegetarian. But look at me now. I’m not a skeleton. I look healthy. And I am healthy- my doctor confirmed this.

Even it means I am selfish, I would rather other people keep believing they need to eat meat to be healthy; even though I know it’s not true in my own life. By me trying to convince them against what they’ve been taught their whole lives, it endangers me of reinforcing the stereotype that vegetarians are judgmental and overzealous.

So now at the risk of sounding jaded instead, I invite absolutely no one else in the world to join me by becoming a vegetarian.

(Of course, it’s a whole different story if you approach me about becoming a vegetarian or vegan. In that case, I will be honored to guide you!)

Now, please- go to the McDonald’s drive-thru and order a McRib. It’s not too late. They’re still open. Actually, I hear you can get 2 for $5 right now…