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 Have Nightmares I Eat Meat

Vegan Confession: I Have Nightmares that I Eat Meat

I realize that for 97% of the population, a dream about eating meat would not be deemed as a nightmare. But for me, it is every time. I have these kinds of dreams about once every couple of months, at least.

It’s funny how that’s how my brain subconsciously creates a “bad” dream. But imagine if you were me:

No pork or shellfish (kosher) since November 2008, no meat at all since December 2011, no animal products at all (including eggs, cheese, milk, or any dairy) since April 2013.

Imagine that’s your life. Then consider what it was like last night for me to dream this:

I was on my way to see a movie with my son. But in a hurry and in need of a quick meal, I stopped by McDonald’s and bought a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Sure, it tasted great. But immediately, I was racked with guilt, knowing that eating this cheeseburger not only disqualified me from being a vegan and a vegetarian after all these years, but also from being kosher; since a kosher-abiding person cannot consume dairy product along the meat in the same meal.

Then, in the dream, I began trying to figure out how I would explain this to my wife. Before she or I even became vegetarians, she was never okay with me going to McDonald’s.

As expected, it wasn’t too long before the undigested meat began racing through my digestive track. Oh yes- you guessed it- a race to the restroom…

And I’m sure that’s exactly what would happen if I did suddenly did eat meat and cheese.

The most interesting part of this nightmare was that I began questioning whether it may just be a dream. So I began saying out loud, “Wake up… this probably isn’t real!”

I guess it worked. I woke up. But I’ve been having flashbacks all day long.

So if you eat meat, be glad you don’t have to deal with these kinds of nightmares.

Below is the video version of this blog post, where I go into a mysterious tunnel…

My Dad’s “Rat Burger” Story: A Rat Refused to Eat His McDonald’s Cheeseburger

Yesterday morning my dad, Jack Shell, posted an interesting little story on his Facebook page. I thought it was worth sharing here on my blog:

rat burger

“This is a McDonald’s cheeseburger I bought in November 2014. It has been in the original wrapper on a shelf in my office. The bread is hard and brittle but there is no mold, no smell, no deterioration. Rats and insects haven’t even touched it. I just killed a big rat in my office last week, too. I guess the rat didn’t recognize it to be food. Why should you? Remember this next time you are eating at McDonald’s.”

I suppose that my dad’s testimonial is not too shocking, considering most of us have already since Supersize Me at least once by now.

Apparently my dad decided to do a science experiment of his own. Even aside from the fact the rat didn’t find the cheeseburger and try to eat it, is the fact that nothing else in time between November 2014 and January 2016 tried to eat it either.

If nothing else, the meat itself should have attracted some kind of critter by the end of the week.

Plus, my dad mentioned nothing about a horrible smell that he, nor any other person that walked into his office, ever smelled for over a year. Because evidently, there was no horrible smell even though there should have been.

I think it’s impressive that McDonald’s is able to make a food product that A) is delicious to humans but B) is not attractive to insects or animals in the food chain whose job it is to take care of food lying around on the planet; while C) at the same time this same cheeseburger contains both meat and cheese but still does not smell horrible when left out for days, weeks, months, or even a year in just a room temperature building.

Should you have any doubt of the validity of my dad’s testimonial, it would be pretty easy to debunk. Just simply leave a McDonald’s cheeseburger in your office for over a year and then find out the results.

Granted, the fact that you could even make it more than just a few weeks would already prove my dad’s point.

The McDonald’s Here in Spring Hill, TN, is Going Viral: Nativity Scene Proclaims “His Name is Jesus”

The McDonald's Here in Spring Hill, TN, is Going Viral: Nativity Scene Proclaims "His Name is Jesus"

I had just put my son to bed when I saw the news: The top story in Facebook news was about the McDonald’s just 3.9 miles from my garage door.

Thanks to Amy Basel taking a picture of the nativity scene painted on the front window of the McDonald’s here in Spring Hill, Tennessee (located at 5431 Main Street, right off the main road that runs through the town), the story has gone viral.

I love to dive into the psychology of a viral news story like this…

For example, why is this suddenly such a popular story?

The McDonald's Here in Spring Hill, TN, is Going Viral: Nativity Scene Proclaims "His Name is Jesus"

After all, I have to assume that even non-religious people who celebrate Christmas are at least aware that the official reason Christmas is celebrated is because Christians recognize the birth of Jesus; who lived and died to bring those who believe in Him eternal life and forgiveness of their sins.

I believe the reason people are fascinated by a McDonald’s with the nativity scene painted on the front window is because it’s refreshing to those of us who believe in the Biblical meaning of Christmas.

After all, we’re not talking about a mom-and-pop burger joint here. This is McDonald’s. This is America’s most popular burger restaurant that is allowing their franchisees to host such an explicitly religious scene on their restaurant.

The McDonald's Here in Spring Hill, TN, is Going Viral: Nativity Scene Proclaims "His Name is Jesus"

In such a politically correct version of America we now live in, it’s actually amazing to see “His Name is Jesus” painted on the front of a restaurant chain’s window.

It’s actually kind of… rebellious.

Seriously, it’s like we’re getting away with something here.

The McDonald's Here in Spring Hill, TN, is Going Viral: Nativity Scene Proclaims "His Name is Jesus"

I wonder where this story will go from here? Will the corporate McDonald’s office put an end to this? Or will they (wisely) embrace this movement and take advantage of the attention that such an overtly Christian statement is bringing them?

Please check out my video that I just shot about an hour before I published this story. You’ll be able to see exactly what everyone is talking about…


All photos and video footage by Nick Shell of Family Friendly Daddy Blog.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

4 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

Dear Jack,

This year for Christmas, it worked out for our family to spend about 5 days at my parents’ house in Fort Payne, Alabama.

So last Tuesday after I got off work, and after you and Mommy had visited both Primrose and Rainbow daycare facilities as we decide which one to transfer you to once we move into our new house in a month (our closing date is exactly a month from today), we loaded up the 2014 Lexus LX 570 and made our way across the Tennessee state line.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

After we settled in that night (December 23rd), I noticed something:

The Christmas tree’s ornaments serve as a 1980s time capsule.

Those ornaments mainly consist of decorations collected during my childhood.

There are crocheted ornaments clearly displaying the year “1987” on them. There is also an array of ornaments I made in school and church, from 1987 to 1991.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

In fact, the one from 1987, where I am sitting on (a very lousy looking) Santa, features me wearing a McDonald’s sweat suit.

The irony is very present; never knowing back then that I would eventually become a vegan, nor would I have been able really understand what that word even meant back then.

I also noticed a 25 year-old egg shell ornament. Back in 3rd grade, for Christmas 1989, I had made an ornament in Mrs. Lawrence’s class, where we all brought in an egg, poked it with a needle to drain it, then covered it in sparkles, a sticker, and some glue.

Somewhat miraculously, than 25 year-old egg has never cracked or shattered!

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

I also laughed when I saw the Star of David made out of tongue depressors. It helps explain why I always sort of assumed we were Jewish.

And don’t forget the bubble lights! It’s amazing those things still work…

The next morning on Christmas Eve (December 24th), your cousin Calla came over and the two of you both got to open one present early.

She got a Play-Doh factory and you got a really cool Lego set that was a tree house; which contained a Lego treasure map and a pizza!

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

It’s a bit of a blur, but at some point while your Uncle Andrew helped you build the new Lego set, I ended up wearing the top part of a broken sombrero that I think my Great-aunt Jennie had bought for me as a souvenir while visiting Mexico, where her parents were born.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

You were pleasantly surprised when you discovered a Brother Bear figurine of the Berentstain Bears (from a McDonald’s Happy Meal); being that you had just watched on the DVD on the drive there in the car, on the Lexus LX’s built-in system.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

So I guess it’s safe to say in addition to the Christmas tree’s ornaments serving as a 1980’s time capsule, my overflowing collection of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys helped add to that undeniable sense of nostalgia at your Nonna and Papa’s house.

Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

Just check out that ice cream cone that transforms into a robot!



Dear Jack: My Childhood Christmas Tree, The 1980s Time Capsule

A Vegan Man’s Thoughts On McDonald’s “Our Food, Your Questions” Transparency Campaign

I will say, I do have respect for McDonald’s for their vulnerability in their new transparency campaign: Our Food, Your Questions.

Granted, I don’t think they’ve resorted to this measure because they sincerely care about informing the general public…

It appears pretty evident their bottom line has been affected by enough people (like me) who have either stopped eating fast food (due to preventative health reasons) or by people who were freaked out by the movie Supersize Me and/or those pictures on Facebook about pink slime in relation to their McNuggets.

A Vegan's Thoughts On McDonald’s "Our Food, Your Questions" Transparency Campaign

People are becoming more aware and curious about the food they are consuming; why helps add to the relevance of this Our Food, Your Questions campaign.

After watching their recent commercial, featured above, it comes across more like, “Okay, fine… let’s do this.”

I’m really curious to see how this plays out. At best, I think their vulnerability could possibly make them less of a target; which is something they could really help them as a business.

Something I’ve learned is that things can often be downplayed if they are simply addressed. I think that’s their plan.


I don’t think McDonald’s will ever be the empire they once were. I don’t see them continuing to expand the way they did for so long.

Isn’t Ronald McDonald himself pretty much retired by now? It seems like he’s laying low these days.

As comedian Jim Gaffigan points out in his special Mr. Universe, most adults are ashamed to admit eating there. Look it up on YouTube…

This article in Time does a good job of reviewing the main questions and answers.

One of the questions that has been asked is “Why doesn’t McDonald’s offer a veggie burger?”

A Vegan's Thoughts On McDonald’s "Our Food, Your Questions" Transparency Campaign

I think it’s because they know a guy like me who is concerned with GMOs is going to have bigger concerns. At least Burger King started offering veggie burgers a few years back….

The question of GMOs did come up. I respect their answer on that; which was basically that McDonald’s is too big of a company to be able to offer non-GMO food because most of America has been, in my own words here, been marked by the mark of the beast of Monsanto.

Ultimately, I do give credit to McDonald’s for being willing to have these (difficult) conversations with their customers and skeptics. Not many companies are willing to discuss where their food comes from; now that people are really starting to ask.


Why McDonald’s Sponsoring the Olympics Makes Headlines

January 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm , by 

13 months.

Today when I saw a headline talking about how McDonald’s will remain a sponsor of the Olympics through 2020, I thought exactly what I was supposed to think by reading that headline:

“That’s ironic- a fast food company is giving free burgers and fries to Olympic athletes and buying ads for everyone to see during a world-wide athletic event? Isn’t that sort of defeating the purpose?”

So yes, I fell for it, Mr. Headline Maker. But then I kept thinking about it. Isn’t it sort of a double standard for us to pinpoint a major contributor of America’s malnutrition when there are plenty of others doing the same thing?

I think of how Coca-Cola is typically a sponsor of middle school and high school sports. It’s common for young athletes to receive a free t-shirt with the classic logo on it, along with the school’s name. Not to mention, when I was growing up, there were soda machines conveniently placed right outside the gym doors.

In an average can of soda, there are around 39 grams of sugar. Knowing that a tablespoon of sugar translates as 12.55 grams, that means a can of soda contains about 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Really? Think about adding 3 tablespoons of sugar into any 12 ounce serving of any kind of food. Isn’t that kind of weird? Or disgusting? Maybe even unnecessary?

Yeah, I know. There are diet sodas too, if you trust forms of aspartame. I don’t, sorry.

I’ve heard that my generation (around age 30 and younger) focuses on the planning of advertisements more than any generation before. I know it’s true for me. I’m always eager to spot ironic sponsors for any event, whether it’s for something athletic or even the ads showing up here on this site. (I’m still waiting to see a “dad ad.” on

But honestly, does anyone really care about ironic sponsorship? Does McDonald’s giving Olympic athletes free food really affect our lifestyle choices anyway?

I don’t think it does. It doesn’t actually change anything. It just makes us point out the irony and makes for a light-hearted, 45 second conversation.

And then the conversation turns to Beyonce’s baby or Hostess going out of business.

To me, the most ironic thing would be to see advertisements for carrots during an athletic event.

Image: Hamster with a bar, via Shutterstock.