Lot’s of you Gals n’ Guys have told us you are planning on (or currently) raising vegan kiddies. When we met handsome, charming, and very vegan Ayinde Howell and he told us he had been VEGAN SINCE BIRTH we couldn’t wait to hear his story!
“So what do you eat… Grass??”
This was a question I often got from the kids at Hennery Foss High School, to which I’d shyly respond, “No, I eat tofu and stuff, you know…” Not that that really helped. Tofu, let alone the word Vegan, was not even really a part of the American vernacular in the early nineties. The reaction to my response would inevitably come as a twisted face and look that unmistakably said, “weird…” At the time, I was a Vegan, Rastafarian, home schooled till high school, baggy pants wearing, typical teenager desperately trying to be perceived as cool. So, to avoid the drama, I would go somewhere private and eat my bagged lunch – generally a tofu sandwich and some blue corn chips made by mom that morning – and then come to the lunchroom and say that I wasn’t hungry or just eat fries. Oddly enough, I was never tempted to try the chicken nuggets (whatever part of the chicken that is) that all of my peers ate tirelessly everyday. I guess somewhere deep down I believed in what my parents were doing.
By the time I was 16 I had already been exposed to Yoga, raw foods, and regular fasting (master cleanse at 10 years old, yeah, thanks again dad…). I had found a small crew of kids that kinda understood my story but I was still keeping up appearances by eating fries and popcorn when at the mall or at football games. My home life was strictly filled with lots of tofu, tempeh, and organic whole foods – we had a huge vegetable garden and even a flour mill! My father had a wholesale license and was not afraid to use it; everything from pounds of fresh Flax seed we “had” to eat on our homemade (vegan) yogurt to homemade kombucha (that’s one creepy mushroom), sprouted grains, unrefined sugars, coconut water – you name it, we had it…in bulk!
Fast forward ten odd years to a conversation that really struck a chord with me. I remember off handedly mentioning to my one of my co-workers that I grew up vegan, and blah blah blah… I stopped to notice that her mouth was hanging open. She said, “Oh my God can I take you to Florida to meet my mother-in-law so she can see a real live vegan from birth?!” I chuckled but she was dead serious. Now I look around and notice that people are falling all over themselves to “go Raw,” “go Vegan,” Whole-Foods-this, Organic/Local-that, and I realize that not only have my “crazy parents” placed me miles ahead of everyone around, but that I’m also a living testament to the life that it seems a worldwide energy is striving towards.
So allow me to debunk a few myths:
- Soy is not the devil. I’ve eaten Tofu, Tempeh, and Soy milk for my whole life and I am not over loaded with estrogen or growing Boobs and my Penis works just fine! The Soy “issue” lies in non-organic processed GMO foods that we all over consume (about 92 percent of all soy beans grown in the us are planted with GMO seed, and about 50% of all livestock diet is that GMO Soy. The other half is GMO Corn. Thanks Monsanto!) But, hey soy is cheap to produce and a great source of protein and cows eat it, corn and (wait for it…) Grass and manage to have enough protein. Food for thought indeed!
- Raw Food is not the Holy Grail! However, I have personally seen multiple cases of people using raw food to cure themselves of cancer, Candida and other major illness that come from processed meat, sugar and carb heavy diets. You do the math: fill yourself with toxins from processed meat, overload your system with processed sugar, fats and carbs… and your body and immune system say “F you!” Then give yourself organic, whole, unprocessed, and uncooked foods that the body can absorb the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals from, your system rejoices and starts working properly, and everyone thinks it’s a miracle… Duh!
Or you could just do this: have a fully integrated, raw, cooked, fresh, organic, BALANCED, plant-based diet from day one and skip all the drama…
Of course, you should see a nutritionist and DO your Research! My parents took a very educated risk with me. You should know your specific body type and its needs, and that of your children. Notice I said nutritionist, not doctor – western medicine hasn’t caught up to this yet; according to them I should have been dead a long time ago… Suckers! Looking back on my upbringing, I can’t say that I’ve had any major illnesses and to this day I rarely get sick. I’m not saying I’m perfect but take it from a life-long Vegan – all babies don’t need cow’s milk! The food pyramid is out-dated! The vegan lifestyle is exponentially much more accessible and so much less “risky” than it has ever been. Even outside major city centers (except for some parts of the Midwest), the term vegan vegetarian is well known. This new thing called the Internet is a pretty good tool as well (want to know what to make for dinner? Google, baby.) Bottom line: it takes more than just listening to the first thing you hear; look deeper.
To all you future vegan baby mama’s As my Mama would say, “do your part, by not contributing to the death and suffering of any being on this planet, the person you will help to create will have an open mind, a higher vibration, and can truly change the world…” not to mention a much smaller carbon footprint and in my case, quite a sexy individual (modesty not included).
Watch Ayinde’s newest music video below to see a real live vegan-from-birth in the flesh! ;)
Ayinde Howell is an Entrepreneur and Creator of Film, Music and Food, as well as an avid Yogi and certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher. He is currently creating quite a stir as executive chef at the JivamuktTea Cafe in Manhattan, NY.