Millennial Parents Respond to Mayim Bialik’s “Competitive Moms” Story

My wife and I recently published a video for our YouTube channel for this blog, giving our reaction to Mayim Bialik’s story on People.com, called Mayim Bialik Reveals She “Left in Tears” After First Group Meeting with “Competitive Moms”.

Her story addresses the fact that Millennials live in a version of the world in which so many parents feel the need to compete with one another. This creates an environment in which those who are not “competing” often feel judged by those who are.

In our own video responding to the story, I explained that the real issue with parents who feel the need to compete with others in their parenting style and skills is this:

They are insecure in their identity not only as individuals, but as parents.

It goes back to junior high when I learned this from my mom; that the kids who were most likely to tease others were simply revealing that they were actually more insecure than the kids they were making fun of.

And now as adults, this same concept continues:

The most insecure parents have the biggest need to project an image of themselves as the “better” parents. And sure, social media helps encourage the competition.

“Mirror, mirror, on my Facebook wall, who’s the fairest parent of them all?”

People tend to seek confirmation when they communicate in social media. They are often seeking approval from their peers to confirm that they are cool, they are funny, they are beautiful, they are relevant, and/or they are good parents.

But what if you simply don’t that need confirmation and therefore, you have no reason to compete?

Insecure parents compete with other another, while slightly clueless yet confident parents ignore the competition all together.

In our video, my wife and I explain that none of us parents truly know what we’re doing. We can’t.

I explain that if you are competing with other parents, you are automatically losing that competition. The only way to “win” is not to play at all.

Instead, all we can do is the best we know how and hope it works out in the end. But as we “practice” parenting, the last thing we should worry about is some silly ongoing competition on the best way to parent.

I explain that while all of us are clueless to some degree, we can still show we are secure in our own identity as individuals and as parents by simply accepting that our own parenting methods are no better than others’, and therefore, we have no reason to seek confirmation or approval in a competition, or to judge other parents for making different decisions than us.

For example, my wife and I do not spank our children. We discipline them, but we have never physically struck them. That’s the culture in our household.

However, that doesn’t mean we have any interest in judging parents who do spank their children. After all, my wife and I are in the minority in this.

Similarly, we have no desire to judge other parents for what they let their children eat. Yes, I am a vegan and my wife and children are vegetarians. But that doesn’t mean we believe everyone should do as we do. We simply don’t care.

Let other people live their own lives. As for us, we’ll live our own. It’s that simple.

When you are focused on doing what is right for your own family, how can you have time to worry about whether other parents are doing it better or worse than you?

My wife and I definitely do not have it all figured out. We never will. We automatically disqualify ourselves from the competition.

You’re more than welcome to join us.

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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.

3 Non-Romantic Reasons I Love My Wife

On the surface, it’s easy to see why I chose to spend the rest of my life with the woman I married over 9 years ago. She’s universally beautiful, she’s unselfishly kind, and she’s humble yet confident in herself.

I am a lucky man. I have the ability of knowing in all confidence, I made the right decision.

Not only did I choose the right person to marry, but I made the right decision that fateful night of October 5, 2006, when I spotted her in a crowded room full of hundreds of people and decided to take a chance: I walked up to her and attempted to woo her with my interesting stories, my charming, yet off-beat personality, and my average looks.

It worked.

Now here we are in our mid-30s, having been married nearly a decade, and having produced two blue-eyed, Dutch-looking children despite our DNA.

So while I could easily write 841 words on the romantic aspects of how much I love my wife, I’m instead going to take a different direction. What about the non-romantic reasons I love her?

What about the reasons that would be symbolized not by a heart emoji, but instead, by a house or a stack of money, or by a clock or even a skull?

If for no other reason than to challenge myself as a writer, I now present to you 3 non-romantic reasons I love my wife.

  1. We make a good business team.

I feel like this isn’t emphasized when a couple becomes engaged, but marriage is a business, and it needs to be ran that way. The longer we are married, the better we become at running our family’s business.

During our first year of marriage, before kids, we were able to pay for my wife to go get her Master’s Degree, without going into further debt. That investment paid off, as my wife has since then, consistently made considerably more money than I have all these years. My wife also handles our family’s weekly budget.

On my end, I have been faithfully building my experience as a writer (thanks to this blog) since 2009, and as a YouTuber for the past 3 years. Now at present day, we are seeing the possibility that my “side hustles” (as a blogger, ghostwriter, SEO expert, social media influencer, and YouTuber) are starting to pay off. I actually speculate that by January 2019, our monthly mortgage payment will be covered from my YouTube earnings alone.

My wife is the detailed accountant and investor. I am the creative entrepreneur. Together, we run a family business.

            2. We make a good parenting team.

In the same way we are counterparts as co-business owners, we function the same way as parents. My wife is the nurturer, the schedule keeper, the travel planner, the head chef, and the laundry engineer.

Meanwhile, I am the disciplinarian, the head of communication, the chauffeur, the before-and-after school program director, and the “wake up at any hour of the night to get our daughter back to sleep” technician.

We are not great at doing each other’s roles. Instead, we embrace our individual parenting strengths as part of our own identities. We’ve got a good system. And we’ve got good kids.

Whereas I see marriage as a business, I see parenting as a talent management agency. We have two young recruits who we are responsible for molding into respectable and independent adults, preparing them for the real world.

        3. I want to be around her even during the predictable, seemingly uneventful, non-                          Facebook-status-worthy moments of life.

For me, it all comes back to the famous line in our wedding vows: for better or for worse.

Yeah, I’m totally cool with slowly aging alongside my wife for the next 40 years as we live happily ever after, until ultimately one of us finally dies first, leaving the other person with the insurance money- and unimaginable sadness.

But what about the in-between of better or worse? Not everyday can be a Michael Bublé song. Many days are more like Huey Lewis, when he sang, “Yes, it’s true, I’m so happy to be stuck with you.”

I love my wife for the moments in our life together that are just normal and forgettable; the B-roll footage that no one would care about watching if our lives were a reality TV show on TLC, called Our Crazy Vegetarian Life. Being grateful for your spouse through all the filler moments, which honestly, make up most of our time on this planet, is what real love is all about.

So maybe I’ve failed to hold true to the title of this article. Maybe there really is something romantic about building a life together, running it like a business, creating and raising mini-me’s, and choosing to love a person until the day you die, even if most of those days don’t have fireworks and champagne.

Maybe there’s something undeniably romantic about the unromantic parts of loving the person you married.

If so, consider me a hopeless romantic.

Photo credit: Mohamad Alaw.

About the Author:

I am an accidental stay-at-home vegan daddy blogger based in Spring Hill, Tennessee. I have no spare time, but by default, my hobbies include playing guitar, singing, songwriting, mountain biking, skateboarding, running, and going on road trips across America with my family in vehicles that Toyota and Lexus provide for free because it’s smart advertising for them.

Additionally, I enjoy making videos for both of my YouTube channels: Nick Shell, which is a mentorship program for younger men who are psychologically dealing with going bald, and Family Friendly Daddy Blog, which celebrates and explores ethnic diversity based on DNA test results.

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?

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!

And if you’re interested in taking a DNA test like I did, here’s the link to MyHeritage.

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.

Dear Holly: You Love Vegan Avocado Toast!

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

To say you are a picky eater is an understatement. Plus, like me, you have negative reactions to consuming dairy, so I am so happy to see you less dependent on milk for your food throughout the day. Even just since graduating from formula, your skin is looking much better.

Ah, finally- you are munching on food you have to chew.

As you can imagine, with you being born to a vegan father, I am eager to teach you from a very young age, how to get your proteins and fats from plants, like I do; as opposed to believing that protein and fat from animals is necessary in order to healthy, like our government teaches and like most people believe.

So when Mommy introduced you to avocado toast (bread, avocado, vegan butter, salt, pepper), and you actually loved it, I was in my glory. It’s quite typical on Saturday mornings for Mommy and me to have that for breakfast. Sort of on a whim, Mommy steered the avocado toast to your mouth, in the off chance you would actually taste it and try it.

Apparently, you thought it looked similar to the contents of all those organic fruit and veggie pouches we give you. Even though avocado tastes nothing like what you’re used to eating, you immediately went back for a second bite. And a third and a fourth…

Mommy actually had to make you a 2nd entire piece of vegan toast!

With your brother being a big fan of cheese, I know there’s no chance of me convincing him to convert from vegetarian to vegan until at least past his teenage years.

But as you, my dear daughter, I think I might just be able to corrupt you, I mean convince you of a life dependent on nuts and seeds for fat, instead of dairy.

I will keep trying to entice you…

In the meantime, I will make sure you have plenty of access to avocado toast!

Love,

Daddy