Stay-at-Home Dad 101: What I Eat During the Day, As a Vegan

The thought seemed intimidating when I was first immediately launched into my new career as stay-at-home dad:

“But what will I eat?”

Turns out, the answer was simple. I eat the same stuff I ate every day back when I commuted nearly an hour away to an office; only minus the oatmeal with trail mix and a banana.

I eat a little less because I am a little less hungry, and I suppose that might have something to do with the fact I’m not getting outside to exercise as much. When I worked at the office, I took my breaks walking or biking or running outside; as for now, I have an 18 month-old daughter and cold or hot weather to consider.

My calorie consumption begins each morning with a cup of instant organic iced coffee. (Honestly, it’s only 2 calories; but I’m not counting!) The entire container only costs about $5, the same amount of just one Starbucks latte.

While I could opt for the unsweetened vanilla almond milk in the fridge to add some flavor and creaminess, somehow along the way I discovered I genuinely like the taste of cold, black coffee.

But I do bring out the unsweetened vanilla almond milk about an hour later for my official breakfast, which is the manly vegan smoothie I invented. My recipe is high in protein and total fat, but contains very little saturated fat and zero cholesterol.

The ingredients, in addition to the almond milk: A whole banana, a cup of frozen blueberries, a half cup of plain oatmeal, a teaspoon of chia seeds, a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa or carob powder, and a tablespoon of peanut butter. Then I put that all together in the blender for about 20 seconds.

My lunch is quite predictable for me as well. There’s a brand of organic ramen noodle available at Whole Foods and Sprouts, called Koyo. They are around a dollar a package, and I cook 2 of them for my lunch. They are also high in protein, like my smoothie. I typically go with the “low sodium” version, but if it’s not available, I don’t let it bother my conscience: I usually consume under my daily allowance of sodium, since I don’t eat meat.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon, I may go for another cup of coffee, but I’m typically not really hungry after having consumed so much protein and good fats earlier in the day.

Depending on what’s for dinner, I may start prepping for when my wife and son get home. What’s really great is when my wife has already put together a crock pot meal the day before and placed it in the fridge. I can have that heating up during the afternoon so it will be ready for dinner. Plus, I can throw together a festive salad.

If I do stray from my ramen noodles routine for lunch, it’s only to finish off any leftovers from the night before, like my wife’s homemade vegan pizza; and maybe a bowl of cereal as well.

And consider, this meal plan is coming from a guy who said most of his life, “I got to have meat! I need more meat! I’m still hungry. I could never be a vegetarian. I couldn’t do it. Especially not a vegan!”

Obviously, there was dynamic character growth in the person narrating this story.

But I have embraced my identity as a manly vegan; and here more recently, as a stay-at-home dad as well.

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What Do Vegans Eat for Thanksgiving? Bacon & Eggs, Lasagna, Pizza, and Lemon Pie

Keep in mind that veganism has increased by 500% since 2014. That means when I became a vegan back in March 2013, less than 1% of Americans were vegans. Now in 2017, that number has risen to an amazing 6% of America’s population.

That’s around 19 million Americans who no longer eat turkey for Thanksgiving, but who did just a few years ago. Imagine how that invisible shift that has been created in our economy- and how grocery stores have had to adjust accordingly.

So if you’re an outsider looking in, who is curious to fathom how a person who no longer eats meat, eggs, or dairy could possibly enjoy a wonderful feast for Thanksgiving… well then, you’ve come to the right place!

Just as it’s never been easier in the history of the world to become obese and/or develop onset Diabetes, especially here in America, it’s also never been easier to live the vegan lifestyle. It’s so easy to obtain food alternatives in most grocery stores these days. Obviously, America’s grocery stores are now being forced to cater to the dietary needs of 6% of America’s population; in addition to the mainstream.

So while we could have opted for the Tofurky as we’ve done every vegan Thanksgiving before this one, we chose instead to have more of an Italian theme; despite learning this year from MyHeritage DNA tests that my Italian side of the family is actually genetically Sephardic Jewish and Middle Eastern…

The assumption is that vegans are left with limited options for meals. But as a surviving vegan of 4 and a half years (meaning that I’ve yet to die from “not getting enough protein”), I have actually found I have much more freedom than ever before.

Turkey is boring. Even back when I still ate meat, I was never really that excited about turkey.

But just take a look at these pictures, which still only cover about 2/3’s of what our family ate for Thanksgiving:

Vegan lasagna with “cashew” cheese sauce, vegan English muffin pizzas, and even a hearty Southern style breakfast thanks to vegan bacon and scrambled tofu.

Plus, I can’t forget the desserts: from molten chocolate lava cake to lemon tart pie. And it’s not like these recipes are hard to find. Just Google them.

In case I need to actually say this, here it is: All the food was so delicious!

The non-vegan family members were not disappointed at all to be forced, by default, to join us in our traditional vegan Thanksgiving festivities.

What do vegans eat for Thanksgiving? Anything we want.

As long as it comes from the vegan food sources:

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

6% of America is Now Vegan, While 4.1% of Americans Now Identify as Gay (LGBT)

Has America underestimated the growing presence and underground influence of its own vegan population? Does America even care that we vegans have arrived, ordering our six dollar coffees with coconut milk instead of dairy? Or does America just assume we all died a while back from a lack of protein?

According to Top Trends in Prepared Foods 2017, which was released in June 2017, there are currently 6% of Americans who identity as vegan; and that is up from just 1% in 2014.

That means the number of vegans in America has increased by 500% in just 3 years! Try to fathom that.

Meanwhile…

According to Gallup News in a study released in January 2017, currently 4.1% of Americans, or 10 million people, now identify as LGBT; and that is up from 3.5% in 2012.

There are more vegan Americans than there are gay Americans.

No, it’s not a competition. But I do compare those numbers to prove a point:

It is safe to say that the American vegan population is larger than most people realize. And as relevant as the LGBT community is in our nation and its culture, I feel that comparing the numbers of both groups shows how surprisingly popular that veganism has become in our country.

With the current population of America being 323.1 million (323,100,000), that means 6% is 19,386,000.

Yes, there are now over 19 million vegans in America and 10 million are gay Americans.

That means there are arguably nearly twice as many vegan Americans than there are gay Americans.

No, I am not conflating veganism and homosexuality. I have no interest in implying vegans have struggled in any comparable way that the LGBT community has. I do not feel that way at all.

Instead, this is my point: No one else seems to be noticing or caring about the massive invisible influence that vegans have on America.

Just imagine the millions of Americans over the past few years alone who, like me, have quietly bowed out of the system; the system of depending on meat, dairy, and eggs for nutrition.

It’s a bold move. It’s rebellious. It’s counter-cultural.

Imagine the effect that must have on America’s economy. Imagine how grocery stores have already adapted to this shift. Imagine how restaurant chains must be hurting, as they have lost 6% of their customer base.

Vegans aren’t taking over America. But we are the reason you can easily find cashew milk ice cream in most large grocery stores now.

Yeah, that’s a real thing. Cashew milk ice cream.

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!

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.)

 

Is The Pfunky Griddle in Nashville a Vegan Friendly Restaurant?

Hi, I’m Nick Shell, the manliest vegan on the Internet. (No other male vegan has ever disputed this!) And yes, I can confirm that a vegan can indeed dine at The Pfunky Griddle. Because I recently did…

A few weeks ago, my family had a great time at the Nashville Zoo. But first, we had a splendid breakfast at The Pfunky Griddle, which is only 4 miles away.

I admit, I had my doubts whether or not I would just be assisting my wife and kids in preparing their meal, yet myself not having anything to eat.

So before I left the house, I had some coffee and made myself my famous “Manly Vegan Smoothie”, which consists of a banana, a cup of blueberries, a cup of unsweetened almond milk, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a tablespoon of chia seeds, and a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder.

That way, I had a solid base of vegan protein and fat already in my system in case things didn’t work out for me at The Pfunky Griddle.

My main role in being there was ultimately indeed to prepare and serve my family their pancakes. They are vegetarians, so they can have eggs and dairy, which I can not.

That is the reason I specifically didn’t order the pancakes. Instead, I had the hash browns and the veggie sausage.

I assume that you know the whole premise of The Pfunky Griddle is that you make your own breakfast, thanks to a griddle which is built into every table.

Now, was my meal perfectly vegan? No.

It could have been, but I knowingly let two things slide:

I assume the veggie sausage contained egg whites. While I would never choose to eat egg whites, I will overlook it if there is a trace of it in the food, as I did with the veggie burger last month at Mellow Mushroom.

But I refuse to eat egg yolks, which contain the cholesterol.

I am a vegan because it allows me to consume 0% of my daily cholesterol; not for animal rights’ reasons alone.

Also, the spray for the griddle contains butter as an ingredient, though it’s so little that it still registers as 0% cholesterol on the nutritional label. (This spray is not necessary to even use, but it definitely makes the food easier to cook.)

We had fun as a family and we will definitely be going back. As is the norm with my vegan lifestyle, I made it work and I refused to be a stick in the mud.

Because not only am I the manliest vegan on the Internet, I’m also the coolest vegan anyone has ever met in the history of the world!

Destin, Florida is Still Not a Vegan Friendly City… A Year and a Half Later

If, as a vegan, you end up in Destin, I will help you out by highlighting some of the places you will be able to eat. But I’m telling you up front, it’s a challenge…

The most obvious choice is Whole Foods Market, which was still being built the last time I was in Destin back in 2015. While it is glorious and new and easy to get to from the main road, it is not vegan friendly.

I struggled to find something to eat there, that would provide for my protein needs. I had to rely strictly on the buffet, but even then, it was nearly impossible to find grains I could eat. The options with rice or pasta all contained meat or dairy.

Briefly, I thought there was a ray of hope when I walked over to the sandwich bar, as there was a veggie sandwich (Le Provencal) on the menu that I could have ordered without the cheese. But when I tried to order it, I was told they no longer have that option available- not just that day, but permanently.

The guy then suggested I try their Caprese Classico sandwich instead, as he informed me that their pesto sauce does not contain dairy. I then delicately explained to him a Caprese Classico sandwich without the cheese is ultimately just a big piece of toast with a tomato on it.

That’s the thing: People who aren’t vegan fundamentally don’t understand how vegans get their protein:

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

I made things work, but was ultimately limited to spending $14 a pop at the Whole Foods buffet; surviving mainly on tofu and beans.

Of course, there is a Mellow Mushroom on the main drag, as well. So that was the next place I took my family in the 2017 Toyota Prius. That’s an easy go to for me when I’m travelling. I experimented with their veggie burger for the first time.

I was very pleased, though I did have to cheat a little, knowing there were traces of egg whites in the burger. The reason this didn’t wreck my conscience is because I’m not a vegan because of animal rights. I follow a 0% cholesterol lifestyle for the health benefits- and I know that the cholesterol of an egg is in the yolk, not the egg whites.

There’s also a place called The Dig, which for a vegan, serves in the likeness of a juice bar. That’s where I met Aaron Sundstrom, who is another fellow male vegan. He switched to the plant-based lifestyle after he survived a bout with cancer.

Perhaps the easiest place for me to dine and got a solid meal was Don Pedros Cantina, which is on the main road but off to the back and easy to miss.

I ordered the veggie fajitas, minus the sour cream and cheese.

So there you have it. Vegans typically don’t end up in Destin. It’s not an inviting place for us, when it comes to food.

It’s not Destin’s fault. Destin is simply catering to who’s showing up.

Apparently, the vegans are visiting other cities instead, like Pensacola.

In fact, the next time I visit Florida on vacation, I will be staying in Pensacola but will take a day trip to Destin.

I get it. I am an intelligent guy. I understand how the free market works…

The reason that Destin, Florida is still not an easy place for a vegan to eat, as I became aware back in December 2015, is not the fault of the city. Instead, it’s simply demographics.

I theorize it like this: Destin is mostly comprised of older, retired residents who live there during the winter, then rent out their condos to young families (like mine) during the warmer months.

The majority of people either living in or coming through Destin are demographically, by design, not the target market for the vegan lifestyle.

Compare that to Pensacola, just about an hour away, which I deemed as very vegan friendly back in May 2015.

Pensacola isn’t a tourist town, the way Destin undeniably is. Instead, Pensacola is an actual city with established residents. Pensacola has employers that run businesses that go beyond the scope of tourism. Pensacola has spunk. It has character.

Destin, not so much. Destin is simply a beautiful place to stay when you want to enjoy a vacation at the beach. It’s plenty of fun, for sure. But Destin is not an environment that typically attracts the vegan type.

But hey, I made it work. If you’re a vegan who ends up in Destin, you can survive too. I just have a feeling you’ll need to bookmark this blog post to serve as your guide.

And if you’re a vegetarian, like my wife and kids are, it’ll be that much easier for you.