Why Do Jews and Muslims Not Eat Pork or Shellfish? Preventative Health Reasons.

Before switching over to a kosher diet 9 years ago on Thanksgiving Day 2008, I always assumed that the reason Jewish and Muslim people didn’t eat pork or shellfish was more arbitrary; something to the effect of simply showing obedience to God by disciplining their eating habits.

But after eliminating all pork (ham, bacon, sausage) and shellfish (shrimp, scallops, clams), and seeing for myself how it was causing my eczema (dyshidrosis) to finally start clearing up after nearly a decade, even though it’s “medically incurable”, I realized that this whole kosher thing actually had a scientific purpose.

In the same way we all know now that beef is worse for our health than chicken, certain “bottom-feeder” animals are naturally less healthy than others for us to eat.

It easily makes sense that a pig, which will eat nearly anything and has no sweat glands, is naturally going to be less nutritious to the human body, as compared to a cow; though beef is red meat, cows eat only plants.

So indeed there is a scale of uncleanness in the animal kingdom, that helps us to understand which are most likely to increase our chances of getting cancer and disease.

I believe we all know by know what the black strip is along the back of a shrimp, right? When it comes to seafood, shellfish are the bottom-feeders who eat all the rotting remnants and feces. Even catfish fall into this category.

The more I learned about this, and realized that by eating only plants, I didn’t even have to worry about the “scale of uncleanness” anymore, it was a natural transition for me to switch to the Mediterranean diet, then vegetarian, and finally vegan.

So nine years ago I became kosher, and for the most recent half of those years I’ve been vegan.

The eczema has been gone for many years now. And the sinus infections. And the pet allergies.

Coincidence? I submit it is not.

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MyHeritage DNA Test: Photos of My Great-Grandparents’ Jewish-Middle Eastern Wedding from 1919- Giuseppe Metallo and Maria “Mary” Vite

Last week at work, my wife was explaining to a coworker how our family is vegetarian and that it all started a few months after we were married in 2008, when I went kosher; meaning I stopped eating pork and shellfish.

The natural follow-up question from her coworker was logical: “Is your husband Jewish or something?”

My wife replied, “Actually, he is. He just took a DNA test and found that out!”

(This is funny because my going kosher had nothing to do with my ethnic background; I simply had to in order to cure my eczema dyshidrosis, severe sinus infections, and allergies. In the end, it worked, by the time I eventually became a vegan in 2013.)

Despite my mom thinking her whole life that she was half Mexican and half Italian, her own DNA test through MyHeritage told a much different story:

True, her mother truly was Mexican; but on her father’s side, her Italian grandfather was mostly Middle Eastern and her Italian grandmother was Sephardic Jewish.

My mom’s mother’s side:

32.9% Central American (Mayan/Aztec)

22% Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese)

My mom’s father’s side:

15.2% Sephardic Jewish

14% Middle East/West Asia (Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Palestine and Georgia)

7.8% Greek

4.5% Italian

2.6% Baltic (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia)

2.0% West African (Benin, Burkina Faso, the island nation of Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Príncipe and Togo)

These wedding photos are from my mom’s paternal grandparents’ wedding in 1919. This is Giuseppe Metallo (age 28 and a half) with his bride Maria “Mary” Vite (age 19). I speculate this was an arranged marriage, but I have no proof; only speculation, based on their age difference and the fact they were recent immigrants to America from Italy.

They both moved here from Italy, spoke only Italian, and had Italian names… yet ethnically, they were barely Italian at all. My theory is that their own ancestors had settled in Italy a few generations prior but had culturally become Italian by the time they got to America.

I’m guessing their families had both converted to Catholicism by the time they had left Italy.

This stuff is purely fascinating to me!

But what do you think? Are we truly looking at a mainly Middle Eastern groom and a Sephardic Jewish bride, who were known to me up until this year as my Italian great-grandparents?

I would love for you to leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

I am Being Featured on CreditDonkey’s Best Dad Blogs 2017: Top Parenting Experts

This morning I was informed that my blog, Family Friendly Daddy Blog, was chosen as one of the Top 40 “Best Dad Blogs”, by CreditDonkey. It gives me great confirmation to know that my work as a daddy blogger stands out in the crowd, as it was noted:

“Family Friendly Daddy Blog is a site featuring reviews of everything from cars to toys, along with plenty of musings on parenting and the vegan lifestyle.”

As I scrolled down the list of fellow daddy bloggers on the list, I immediately realized that I personally know some of these guys, actually:

Back when I was the daddy blogger for Parents.com, General Motors flew me up to Detroit in October 2011 to promote their Traverse, I met HighTechDad.

Larry Mihalko during the Chevrolet Traverse Quality event during the Chevrolet Centennial media event Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at the General Motors Milford Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for Chevrolet)

But I especially hit it off with 8BitDad, Zach Rosenberg, while I was there. I remember him telling me that his own dad is a character actor, in Los Angeles. This whole time, 8BitDad and I have been following each other on Twitter. I hope I get to hang out with him again in person someday.

And I met Gay NYC Dad in October 2014 when I was invited by Toyota for their “Family Reunion” at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Pompano Beach, Florida; featuring the updated Sienna, Camry, and Yaris. I remember he and I had a fun conversation about how he grew up on a kosher diet, being Jewish, whereas I started about my journey of veganism when I switched to kosher (no pork, shellfish, or other bottom feeder animals) back on Thanksgiving 2008.

The fact that I made it to this list reminds me that while I may not be the most popular daddy blogger out there, I am good enough at what I do to make the cut; to be considered one of the most relevant.

It also shows me I’m doing a decent job on SEO (search engine optimization); meaning I’m able to create and maintain contain that is easy for people to find when they search a relatable topic on Google.

I am very grateful for all of my readers and supporters- and I especially thank CreditDonkey today for choosing me as part of their Top 40 daddy bloggers.

Dear Holly: Our Walk in the Park at Aspen Grove

10 months.

Dear Holly,

Last Saturday was such a beautiful day so we made good use of it. We met up with our friends Mohamad and Lena, and their daughter Hanna who is just a month older than you. We stopped for lunch at Noodles & Co., the same vegan-vegetarian-kosher friendly place that your brother Jack and I dined at after we saw Rogue One back in January at the Green Hills Mall in Nashville.

We all took a moment to appreciate Hanna’s awesome new shirt that her parents found for her in downtown Nashville. Jack said, “Daddy, I keep thinking that’s really her arms and legs. It looks like she’s really playing the guitar!”

After lunch, I suggested we drive right across the other side of I-65 and take a walk in Aspen Grove Park; which is right behind my office, where I take my mountain bike, skateboard, or just go running during my lunch breaks.

Fortunately, we took our double stroller to push you and Jack. However, he let you have it all to yourself since he wanted to check out the creek that followed the trail.

For me, there’s nothing like being able to take a leisurely stroll through the park on a nice day. There’s a reason the saying goes, “Well, it’s no walk in the park…” when referencing a tough situation.

That’s because a walk in the park is a standard measurement of happiness and inner peace. It’s a universally enjoyed occurrence.

And hey, if you can share that experience with people you care about… even better.

I watched the wind blow through your blonde hair, as you took the whole experience in. Ultimately, you were ready for a nap. But you just couldn’t bring yourself to the point of falling asleep.

You saved that for two minutes into the car ride home.

Love,

Daddy

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…

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars (Over the Past Year)

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

From the time I was my heaviest back in 2008 when I got married, I reached 178 pounds. That may not sound too heavy for a guy, but at 5’9”, I was actually “overweight” according the height/weight chart.

And I know… many people don’t like to take those charts seriously. But I do, on a personal level. Because at my heaviest, I also had health problems like eczema; as well as constant sinus pressure, and reoccurring sinusitis, and pet allergies.

My theory is that with the extra weight on my body, along with it came health problems.

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

On Thanksgiving Day of 2008 (a few months after getting married), I became like a faithful Jew and gave up pork and shellfish. That was the beginning of the slippery slope, as I found myself becoming a vegetarian by December of 2011.

By April 2013, I became a full vegan, and in the process, I accidentally went from a size 34 to size 31 pants. That summer I got down to 153 pounds, without even trying.

That means I lost 25 pounds in the process of getting healthy. Yet losing weight was never my goal; I just wanted to be healthy.

As you know, all my previously mentioned health problems have disappeared and remained in remission since becoming a vegan.

For the majority of these past 3 years of being a vegan, I leveled out and remained right at around 155 pounds. Until this past year…

With my vegetarian wife being pregnant from July 2015 to April 2016, she began craving “fun food”. So I began picking up vegan chocolate bars at Whole Foods Market on the way home for work.

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

It began a normal thing for us to go through a whole bag or two of tater tots over the course of each week.

Keep in mind, we were still eating our normal healthy meals too. But ultimately, both the chocolate bars and the tater tots contained oil; which we typical avoid. Not to mention, the chocolate bars also contained extra sugar as well.

Remember what I always point out about veganism:

Being a vegan forces a person to consume 0% of their daily cholesterol; as the amount of cholesterol even in the fattiest vegan foods (cashews, avocados, and even oil) still never reaches 1%.

Even so, I was at 162 pounds when my daughter was born 3 months ago; which is about 7 pounds is heavier than I’m used to.

My size 31 pants were so tight in the waist that I asked my wife more than once if she recently had begun drying our clothes on a higher heat setting.

Nope. It was the all the vegan chocolate bars and tater tots over the course of the past year.

Chocolate Tater

Four weeks ago, I nixed those items from my diet, along with all fried foods, and gluten.

While I haven’t publicly announced I am now gluten-free in addition to being a caffeine-free vegan, it’s working for me so far.

I’ve lost 2 of the 7 pounds so far and I physically feel better.

So yes, it’s possible for a vegan to gain weight just by eating foods with more oil and sugar.

Granted, it took me an entire year to accidentally gain those 7 pounds. Now the question is, how long will it take to lose it all?

I refuse to buy a bigger pair of pants!

Vegan Confession: I Don’t Miss Meat, Eggs, or Dairy, But I Do Have Fast Food Fantasies…

Vegan Confession: I Don’t Miss Meat, Eggs, or Dairy, But I Do Have Fast Food Fantasies

Fact: I am the only married man you know who is a vegan. We are a rare breed, as I am well aware.

A question I get sometimes is this: “Don’t you miss it? Don’t you wish you could just bite into a juicy steak sometimes?”

My answer is always a quick, “No, not at all.”

I know it’s easy for an outsider to assume that vegans are secretly hungry because they don’t get enough protein.

Granted, I think I am easy proof that I actually get more than enough protein. After having been a vegan for over three years, a vegetarian for 4 and a half years, and kosher (no pork or shellfish- yes, that includes bacon!) for 7 and a half, you can easily see I’m not withering away.

In fact, I’m currently working on shedding the last 5 of the 7 pounds I gained while supporting my wife in her pregnancy cravings. (Organic tater tots and vegan chocolate candy bars do more damage than I previously thought!)

My wife and I have discussed what would happen if she ever ate meat again; as she’s been kosher and a vegetarian as long as I have. I explained that if she ever went back, it could easily tempt me to do the same, which would mean I could have the freedom to eat fast food again.

As I explained to her; it’s not the good, healthy, organic, non-GMO meat that she would cook that I would be so excited about. I could care less about that.

Instead, what I psychologically miss is the glory of fast food.

I miss being able to spend so little money on food that is unnaturally tasty (thanks to the addictive trio of high fat, high sugar, and high sodium).

I miss the convenience of dollar menus and drive-thru’s.

I miss not ever asking myself where my food is coming from, beyond a Sysco delivery truck.

I miss not worrying about the future effect of fast food on my body.

I miss not associating eat red meat with the increased chances of getting diabetes or prostate cancer.

The thought of me ever eating fast food again disgusts her enough to the point where I’m pretty sure she’s won’t ever be tempted to go back. (I used to sneak fast food when she and I first got married 8 years ago.)

Life was easier when I ate fast food. I admit, I miss that.

The place I miss most is Captain D’s. Ah, their greasy, crunchy, fried mystery fish of the sea; made complete with tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. Wash it down with sugary sweet tea… I miss that place more than any burger joint.

But here’s what I don’t miss:

I don’t miss having “untreatable eczema” on my hands, to the point I could barely type on the computer keyboard.

I don’t miss the daily headaches.

I don’t miss the constant sinus pressure, or getting sinus infections every couple of months.

I don’t miss the acne.

I don’t miss being my pants size being size 34; where as I’ve remained size 31 for the 3 years I’ve been a vegan.

So yes, being a strict vegan takes some fun out of life. It’s true.

And I do miss fast food.

But for me, what I psychologically miss isn’t worth more than how I am physically benefiting from doing without the fun stuff.