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

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!

Freshening Up Mealtime with Moe’s; Even for Vegetarian/Vegan Families Like Ours

Anyone who has been reading my blog for the past couple of years knows that I frequently mention Moe’s Southwest Grill. Not only is it a ritual for my son Jack and I have dinner there right after we go see a movie together, but last November when my wife and I told him he could go anywhere to celebrate his 6th birthday dinner, he chose Moe’s– with no hesitation! Yes, that’s a true story.

In a time when parents are paying more attention than ever to what’s in the food their family is eating (for example, steering clear of GMO’s) and how it’s prepared, while at the same time catering to any particular dietary needs (like how I’m a vegan but my wife and kids are vegetarians), as well as, the often picky eating habits of children, Moe’s has naturally become our stress-free, go-to place.

Over the weekend, our 1 year-old daughter wasn’t quite feeling herself, so my wife Jill wrote down a lunch order that we could pick up and bring back to the house.

Once we arrived at Moe’s, I asked Jack, “Same thing as always, right?” He confirmed, having just mumbled back to the staff, “Welcome to Moe’s…”

The nice young man across the counter/food prep station began making Jack’s “cheese only” quesadilla and my wife’s vegetarian taco salad (cheese is the thing that keeps my wife from being a vegan like I am).

I got my usual: the “earmuffs with tofu”.  It’s a delicious bowl full of rice and beans, with tofu and mushrooms as my protein, along with grilled onions and peppers. (All proteins, whether meat or not, are grilled on a consistent production stream so they’re hot and ready as soon as you order.)

Then I build a salad on top, with salsa and guacamole; both of which are prepared from scratch daily. It’s a great dichotomy of warm protein on the bottom and chilled greens on top.

So in case you’re wondering, that’s what such a manly vegan as myself eats at Moe’s. With over 20 fresh and flavorful ingredients to customize my meal; there are just so many options. It’s quite a colorful masterpiece on my plate!

I let Jack pick out our table, then I made my way to the salsa bar (which is a must). Not only is all the salsa and guacamole prepared from scratch daily, but they always have extremely spicy options for pepper heads like me.

As we enjoyed our lunch together, I looked over and caught Jack dancing to Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit, “Beat It.” That tends to happen a lot when I take him to Moe’s. After all, did you know that Moe’s is actually an acronym for “Musicians, Outlaws, and Entertainers”?

 

 

Before we headed back home, we made our way back up to the counter to put in a to-go order for our family’s dinner. I ordered burritos for my wife and myself, while Jack predictably ordered another cheese quesadilla; being the picker eater he is.

My wife was delighted to see us return with not only an easy dinner, but also, her lunch. She reminded me several times not to forget the chips, which are flash-fried daily and come free and unlimited, along with the salsa as well.

So for dinner last Saturday night, we reheated the burritos and quesadilla in our oven. It is such a glorious thing to know you can eat a meal in your own home, yet not have to worry with a sink full of dishes.

Our family proudly supports Moe’s, as each one is locally owned and operated; which yields that true hometown feel. And even though we have dietary needs that most can barely cater to, Moe’s makes it easy for us. It’s family dining. It’s easy dining.

Have you been to Moe’s recently? We have.

 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Moe’s Southwest Grill;

however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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.)

 

Louisville, Kentucky is Definitely a Vegan Friendly City: Officially Endorsed by The Manly Vegan (That’s Me, Obviously!)

Fact #1: I am the manliest (and most humble) vegan on the Internet- and the entire world refuses to refute my claims.

Fact #2: Your family will have no issues finding plant-based, cholesterol-free food in Louisville, Kentucky.

Just a little over a month ago I proclaimed that Destin, Florida is still not a vegan-friendly town; after my 2nd visit there in 2 years. But being the emotionally intelligent man I am, and being a man who understands how the free market works, I quickly acknowledged that it’s not Destin’s fault they don’t cater to vegans:

There is simply not a demand in Destin for vegan food. Destin instead attracts a lot of families with young kids who are okay with feeding their families fast food.

Louisville, Kentucky is the complete opposite. It attracts enough crazy people like me; people who depend on veggies, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds for their nutrition; as opposed to animal products.

I was extremely impressed by Louisville’s Whole Foods. One of the best I’ve seen, actually! Not only was it conveniently close to the Louisville Zoo where my family was visiting, as we ventured in the ever-manly 2017 Toyota 4Runner, but the Louisville Whole Foods had the most impressive array of vegan baked goods; including vegan donuts, which I have found are rare beyond the West Coast.

By the way, my wife and kids are vegetarians; not vegan.

Something peculiar, in a good way, that I noticed about the Louisville Whole Foods was this:

There were are lot of older people shopping there. I have never seen so many healthy, fit senior citizens in one place.

It was such a delight. Because that will be me in 20 years. I will be the healthy, fit 56 year-old vegan jogging man. Forget migrating to Florida when I retire! I just need to find my way back to Louisville!

My only regret is that I didn’t get a chance to try the alluring vegan jerky of Stan Chase’s Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.

I did, however, manage to quickly snap pictures of his vegan jerky options for future reference. By the way: Stan, if you’re reading this, and want to send me some samples, I would be honored to do a special blog post, and YouTube video, featuring your product…

After all, I am the manliest vegan on the Internet, as we’ve already well established. I am clearly the perfect demographic fit for your jerky.

So yes, fellow vegans of America… go to Louisville, Kentucky.. You belong there.

There are plenty of options of places you can eat, like Chuy’s, where I enjoyed the veggie fajitas; which I ordered without sour cream or cheese.

Ah, I am just so happy. So happy to know that despite my major disappointment in Destin, the ying to the yang exists in Louisville.

Fact #3: Louisville, Kentucky is man enough for the Manly Vegan.

Fact #4: Destin, Florida is not.

Fact #5: I am very curious about vegan jerky now.

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.