Monday, June 23, 2008

You Can Quote Me On That

Is it just me, or does it seem like whenever I say I'm not going to blog for a while I write more than I usually do?

Anyway, I linked to that Pioneer Press story about dads who blog (I refuse to type the phrase "daddy bloggers" because it just rubs me the wrong way for some reason ... oh shit, I just typed it) a little over a week ago in my mammoth "why you should go vegan" post.

I have to say, it felt really good to write that post. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get any comments from non-vegans on there, but oh well. I consider it a lesson in the insignificance of print media (apologies to my brother, who is a reporter for said print media).

The quotes in the story were taken from an interview that I gave the reporter over the phone. Here's the part about my blog with comments and critiques:


Bio: Nowatzki, 29, is a stay-at-home dad from St. Paul who is living the vegan lifestyle with his wife and their daughter, who is almost 2.

Why he blogs: "I want to show that very normal people can be vegan and raise their daughter vegan," Nowatzki says. "I want to show that it's a healthy lifestyle choice and that we're a happy, normal family, we just don't eat animals and animal secretions."

Oh my. How embarrassing. Did I really say "normal" two sentences in a row?

I'm actually really happy with this section. It's almost exactly what I wanted to say. If I could add anything it would be that we also don't buy leather or any other products made from animals. Actually, I think I did say that in the interview, but I suppose she had to cut it down quite a bit.

Also, I almost included "chickens' menstrual waste" after animal secretions but figured that might turn too many people off. After all, I wanted them to visit my blog.

A middle ground: "It's nice to have a hands-off way to inform people about veganism because when you get into a conversation with someone about it, it can escalate to hostility pretty quickly — food is pretty personal to everyone. Writing about it in a blog is more detached, and people can chose if they want to read it."

Right on. Though that's not to say that we as vegans shouldn't talk to people face-to-face about veganism. But when it comes to friends and family, it's nice to have a way to let them know how I feel about things without it escalating (or descending, as it were) into an argument about whether or not plants feel pain (the answer is no).

Why it might seem like more stay-at-home dads blog: "I really think it's still a new social experiment, to be a stay-at-home dad, ...

I have to say, I don't really remember saying that stay-at-home dadding is a "new social experiment," but who knows. I may have. It doesn't feel like something I'd say. I suppose it's sort of true, but I think it belittles the stay-at-home dad experience. To call it an experiment is to say that the outcome is unknown, that we're gambling with the lives of our children just to see how it will go. That's not how I feel at all.

...and it almost seems like the stay-at-home dad creature needs to justify his existence with a blog," Nowatzki says.

Huh. I'm almost certain I didn't say that. I said, and I quote, because this is something that I have said several times in several places to several people, "The stay-at-home dad is a creature that needs to justify his existence." Period. She may have asked me about why stay-at-home dads have blogs and I gave that quote somewhere in my answer, but I never said the combination of words that were put into quotations and then printed on several thousand newspapers.

Oh well, I know you always run a risk when you're being interviewed. Rarely does the quotation match exactly what was said.

All-in-all it was a well put together piece and I'm happy with it. I didn't come off as an ass, which is what I was afraid of.

This Old House

My housework is going into overdrive starting today. I get to pressure-wash the old paint off our stucco for the next few days. Yay!

So blogging will be light.

It feels weird to do stereotypically manly things. I'm used to taking care of my daughter, doing the dishes, doing the laundry and cooking meals. It's like I don't even know who I am when I do manual labor. I tap into a part of myself that reminds me of my dad. I mean, reminds me A LOT of my dad. When I wear a respirator while scraping the lead paint off our trim, I can smell my breath ... and it smells like my dad. Weird.

Also, I can totally see now why my dad went to the bar for a couple drinks after a hard day of painting in the summer. I really want to as well. But by time I'm done working and then done eating it's time to go to bed.

Speaking of my dad, I meant to write something near Father's day about him. About how I feel like I'm taking on certain aspects of his personality and mannerisms. Also, how he planted several seeds of animal rights in my brian at a young age. My dad is faaaaar from a vegan or vegetarian, yet he taught me to respect animals. There are a few specific examples. I'll write about them later.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Veggie Nugget #21

"Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

-Elie Wiesel

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oh, Steven...

It occurred to me this last weekend, when I quoted Steven the Vegan to my parents and siblings, that not everyone has seen the hilariousness that is...

Cooking With Steven the Vegan

So there you go family (and anyone else who hasn't seen the video). Now you'll know what I'm joking about.

I actually have a point of contention with this video. I'd argue that if a monkey made me a sandwich - even if the contents of the sandwich were vegan - I wouldn't consider the sandwich vegan. Because chances are, the monkey would have to have been trained and forced to make the sandwich for humans. That's animal exploitation. I can't get behind that.

My friend Tony asked me once a while ago, "Do you ever turn off?" I think I have now definitively answered a big fat NO to that question.

Anyway, watch the video. It's funny.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Welcome to My Blog

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to everyone who came here after reading The Pioneer Press Father's Day story about dads who blog. I'm glad to have you.

First off, let's get this out of the way:

"The American Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that well-planned vegan and vegetarian diets can satisfy the nutritional needs and promote normal growth of infants and young children."

-American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, 1998; Messina & Burke, 1997

There, now that we've answered whether or not a vegan diet is healthy, you might be wondering what exactly it means to be a vegan.

The commonly accepted definition of vegan is this, from the Vegan Society:

“A vegan is someone who tries to avoid - as far as is possible and practical - all forms of exploitation of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. This is for the benefit of people, animals and the environment. Vegans eat a plant-based diet free from all animal products, such as meat, animal milks, eggs, honey and gelatin. They also avoid animal products like leather, wool and silk for clothing or other purposes.”

Simple enough, right? We humans do not need to exploit non-human animals. We can live just fine without causing fellow sentient beings harm and suffering. In fact, we can live better!

I used to eat a lot of animal flesh ("meat"), drink a lot of animal secretions ("dairy") and eat quite a bit of chickens' menstrual waste ("eggs"). But after I learned what happens in order to get those things on my plate, I could no longer choose to participate in the unnecessary suffering and exploitation of animals.

My family is happy, healthy and compassionate. And my wife and I aren't the only parents out there bringing our kids up vegan. There's a whole bunch of kids these days being raised to respect animals and oppose cruelty. Check out a sampling of awesome vegan kids here.

The reasons for choosing a vegan diet and lifestyle are numerous.


The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies.

-Albert Schweitzer

For more information on the cruel treatment of farmed animals, check out this website.

And for a great film about the exploitation of non-human animals by humans, check out Earthlings, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix (yes, the guy who played Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line"). Here are links to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of Earthlings.

You may watch those videos and then feel helpless. But you're not. You can go vegan. Yes you. About five years ago, I couldn't imagine my life without fatty, artery-clogging animal flesh either, but here I am, healthier and happier than ever!


“A kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home.”

-National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan

Do you consider yourself an environmentalist? If so, you probably want to look into going vegan. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report, Livestock's Long Shadow:

"The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent. This is a higher share than transport….Livestock are also responsible for almost two-thirds (64 percent) of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems."

For a recent local example of the environmental damage, check out this story about families in northern Minnesota who had to be evacuated from their homes because of fumes rolling off a dairy operation. Yuck.

More information on the environmental devastation caused by animal agriculture can be found here.


We've already covered the fact that a vegan diet is healthy for infants and toddlers with that American Academy of Pediatrics and Dietetic Association quote above. For information on vegan diets for children, check out the Physicians Committe for Responsible Medicine's information pages here and here.

For health benefits for adults, see this page.

We don't need milk for calcium. We don't need meat for protein. We don't need to eat any animal products to live a healthy life. In fact, studies show that removing animal products from your diet actually reduces your chances of getting heart disease and cancer. It can prevent and even reverse diabetes. It can lower your blood pressure.

I ingest zero cholesterol. A vegan diet is a diet free of cholesterol. The cookies I make? Free of cholesterol. Homemade vegan cinnamon rolls? Free of cholesterol. The "cheesey" potato casserole I made last week? You guessed it - free of cholesterol.

Which brings me to another question someone unfamiliar with veganism might ask: What do you eat?

The easy answer: Everything that you eat, and probably much more! Do you like bratwurst straight off the grill? So do I! Tofurkey makes amazing vegan brats. Do you like chocolate cake? Me too! Google "vegan chocolate cake" and you'll find a ton of recipes, from simple to gourmet. Do you love tacos smothered in cheese with a side of sour cream? Hot damn! I do too! Except I use vegan cheese and vegan sour cream! Zero cholesterol! Zero animal exploitation!

I could go on and on and on. The point is, I'm not starving. I didn't have to give up on food when I went vegan. Quite the opposite, I have discovered more food in the 5 years I've been vegan than I ever thought possible. Going vegan closes the door on meat, dairy and eggs, but it opens every other window in the house. For me, it knocked down walls I didn't even know I had.

Sorry about that. I tend to take metaphors too far.

If you are at all curious about veganism, I urge you to order (or view on-line) a free brochure from any of these sites. At the very least, you'll get some great recipes out of the deal. 

For more resources and reading on veganism I suggest checking out these sites:
Animal Rights Coalition (a home-grown Minnesotan group)
Compassionate Action for Animals (also Minnesota-based)
Fast and Furless (a vegan boutique in Minneapolis)
Veg Guide (a Twin Cities based restaurant guide for vegans and vegetarians)
Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection
Anima Naturalis (en Espanol)
An Animal-Friendly Life
Vegan Soapbox
Creature Talk
Animal Emancipation
The Abolitionist Approach

And for something completely unrelated to vegansim, I want to give all parents of pre-Kindergarten kids in Minnesota a quick little link to the Minnesota Early Childhood Education (ECFE) site. ECFE is an invaluable resource in parenting. From the Saint Paul ECFE website: "ECFE works to strengthen families and enhance the ability of all parents to provide the best possible environment for the healthy growth and development of their children."

There is a very small fee for the classes, but cost is based on income. Those who find it unaffordable are not forced to pay. In other words, you can get top-notch early childhood education and screening for potential problems for cheap or free.

You can find an ECFE program near you by going here.

And finally, a little shameless plug from yours truly. I'm a stay-at-home dad, which means my income is pretty close to zero. But I take wedding photos on the side! So if you know anyone who's getting married and wants their wedding photos taken for under a thousand dollars, feel free to point them toward my photo site.

Finally (for real this time), to reward you for reading through this whole post, here's a video of Anna being silly the other day.

Oh, and one more thing! If you have any questions about veganism let me know in the comments section and I'll do my best to answer them in a future post. If you don't want to leave a comment, but still want to ask a question, you can email me at: thislittlepiggyhadtofu @ gmail . com (delete the spaces).

Have a look around the blog. Stay a while. And feel free to come back any time. All are welcome at the Piggy house.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Shake Your Buddha

I was singing "Shake Your Booty" today and dancing along to it (it wasn't a pretty sight, I can assure you) and Anna pointed to our small statue of the weeping Buddha (and no, we're not Buddhist ... I just like the form of the statue).

So now she's dancing around singing "Shake your Buddha! Shake your Buddha!"


Another Bun!

Some nights Anna will stay up for an hour after we put her in her crib, just talking and talking away.

Last night we heard her sing Hush Little Baby to herself over the monitor. Our hearts simultaneously melted to a fine gooey mush.

We sing Hush Little Baby whenever we need to console her if she wakes up in the middle of the night (which is very rare these days). We don't sing the standard lyrics though, we sing a version from the book by Sylvia Long, which encourages young listeners to find comfort in what's around them instead of things mom or dad promises to buy them.

Anyway, I digress. After she sang a couple rounds of Hush Little Baby to herself, she said the following:

"Baby. Tummy. Mommy's tummy."

What a smart kid!

That's right, fellow blogospherians, there's another bun in the oven. Kid B (as I like to call him/her) is due to arrive sometime in mid-January.

Mrs. Piggy isn't feeling so hot these days. Morning sickness and all. But we take it as a good sign. She had morning sickness with Anna, and she was born as perfect as they come (I'm not exaggerating, Anna scored a 9 on the APGAR and no baby ever gets a 10 ... as perfect as they come).

I suppose this means I'll need to change the name of the blog in January.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I've been working with glazing a lot lately. This kind of glazing.

And all I've been able to think about when working with that not-so-fun stuff in a tube is this kind of glazing.

Or is that frosting?

And yes, that's a Cinnabon. Or more accurately, that's a vegan Better Than Cinnabon.

A few months ago we were walking around the Mall of America and I mentioned to my wife that I thought I heard somewhere that Cinnabons were vegan. She went nuts with anticipation and asked the kid at the Cinnabon stand if they have any milk, butter or eggs in them. Well, it turns out they are most definitely NOT vegan. They're chock full of horrible cholesterol and suffering. (It turns out I was thinking about Annie's Pretzels, which are vegan as long as you ask them to leave off the butter.)

But Cinnabons taste SOOOO good, right? So we were on a mission to find a vegan version of Cinnabon's and realized that we'd have to just make them ourselves.

We found this recipe, and I have to say it really did the trick.

Mrs. Piggy and I made a batch one night. We started at 7 o'clock and they weren't done until a quarter after midnight (waiting for the dough to rise takes up a lot of time, time that we spend playing Mario Kart Double-Dash on the Gamecube). So if you're going to make them, I suggest starting the dough in the morning or afternoon.

A few weeks later I made a double batch. If you're going to make these, you should probably make a double batch, because not only are you going to want a lot, you're also going to want to share them with all your friends. Seriously, these are moaningly good. Yes, moaningly. Meaning they make you moan in pleasure.

I joked to Mrs. Piggy the first time we ate them, "I know that these are cruelty-free, but they taste like they are sooooo full of cruelty."

Make them. Now. And then let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Just a quick note for my readers (yes I know, the plural is presumptive) in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro, This Little Piggy Had Tofu will be featured in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press this Sunday. They're running a Father's Day feature about dads who blog. Mine will be one of the ten or so that they focus on.

I was interviewed and everything. I'm looking forward to reading the story, but at the same time I'm a little nervous about how my quotes will translate to the written word. The possibility of being seen as a representative of vegans everywhere stresses me the hell out.

I'll be sure to link to the story once it's online.

Oh, and a quick update on Anna's fear of me in a mask. Today I was wearing the get-up again (respirator, goggles, a black baseball cap and a white full-body protective suit), scraping the house and she pointed at me and said "Daddy!".

So at least she knew it was me. But she was still afraid to approach me. Which is fine. Because I was covered in lead dust.

Have I mentioned that I despise scraping paint? Well, I do.

Later on in the house, Anna could hear me scraping outside and she said, "Daddy's scraping Anna's house."

That almost makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, June 9, 2008

"Not Funny"

My brothers and their families drove many hours through rain, wind and ... more wind this last weekend to help me work on my house. The place was a zoo. Not only were there five dirty guys running around, but wives and children were all here, too.

Toddlers were pushed by babies, babies pushed by toddlers, my niece bit by a dog in the cheek (she's OK), a pillow was urinated on by a chiwawa, and Rampage World Tour was won by my brothers and I late, late, late on Friday night.

We're all just big kids.

Oh, and a lot of work got done. Can't forget that.

So today I was doing some more work outside (scraping, fixing, and painting the trim on our house) and I had my respirator and goggles on because the coat of paint that's currently on the house (and as far as we can tell, has been on there since the house was built 105 years ago) is lead-based.

Anna and mom were outside (not near the house, of course) and Anna saw me and got all scared. She got scared this weekend too when she saw my brothers out the window scraping and wearing the same get-up on their faces.

It looks sort of like this (I would have taken a photo of myself today to show you just how frightening I looked, but my hands were full of lead dust and window glazing):

So I took off the face gear to show her that it was me underneath. She seemed to understand until I put it back on again. She immediately lifted up her hand and seemed to summon The Force in an attempt to make me show my face again. She kept saying "no" and seemed really distressed.

We've heard about this before. Toddlers don't get masks. they don't understand that it's still the same person underneath. But we've never seen it in action and it sort of broke my heart. As many times as we explained it to her, she didn't quite get it.

As they walked back into the house later on I heard Anna say "guy" in the way she does when she sees someone she doesn't know. I honestly think I'm going to have nightmares tonight about my daughter not knowing who I am.

Later on I was still outside and Anna and mom were inside. Anna said, "Daddy. Mask. Off. On."

Jen laughed a bit. To which Anna replied, "No. Not funny."

Can you believe that? That's awesome! She's starting to get in touch with her feelings and understand what's funny and what's not. And that we laugh when something's funny. And that we shouldn't laugh when something's not funny.

Anyway, it just blew my mind. Every day she grows up and changes and becomes her own person.

And just to remind myself how much she loves me when I'm not wearing a freaky mask, here's a photo:

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Veggie Nugget #20

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

-Anne Frank

Friday, June 6, 2008

Veggie Nugget #19

"I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings."

-Cesar Chavez, farming activist

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Veggie Nugget #18

“The costs of mass-producing cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep and fish to feed our growing population... include hugely inefficient use of freshwater and land, heavy pollution from livestock feces, rising rates of heart disease and other degenerative illnesses, and spreading destruction of the forests on which much of our planet’s life depends.”

-TIME Magazine Visions of the 21st Century, “Will We Still Eat Meat?”

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Veggie Nugget #17

"Can a world-class athlete get enough protein from a vegetarian diet to compete? I’ve found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete. In fact, my best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet. Moreover, by continuing to eat a vegan diet, my weight is under control, I like the way I look. (I know that sounds vain, but all of us want to like the way we look.) I enjoy eating more, and I feel great."

Carl Lewis, nine-time Olympic gold medalist (read more from Carl here)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Veggie Nugget #16

"Interestingly, many long-term studies have now examined milk consumption in relation to risk of fractures. With remarkable consistency, these studies do not show reduction in fractures with high dairy product consumption. The hype about milk is basically an effective marketing campaign by the American Dairy industry."

-Walter Millet, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., Harvard School of Public Health's nutrition chairman