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Pawn

At first, the Pulse nightclub shooting didn’t feel real. I live in Orlando but I was away that Saturday night at a wedding in Miami, so there was a level of disconnect I was afforded. But as I started to process the events over the next 24 hours and see other members in my community affected by the events, my grieving process took me through fear, anger, confusion, compassion, and disparity.

Unfortunately, the idea that a person may choose to kill another person in order to gain control of something or to raise awareness of an agenda has always been a part of being human. In humanity, war is a definite. But with the age of constant news coverage, immediate social media sharing, and individuals addicted to their devices, there is a new side effect that allows any would-be shooter the ability to be immediately plastered all over TVs and phones. The story of “Pawn” is a game in which people don’t need to know WHO they’re killing or even have a strong reason, just as long as they hear their name on TV and get to be King for a day.

The lyrics that start the song say “There is a pattern; it’s starting over again.” I wanted everything to be very familiar and allow the listener to enter into a trance-like state where they could feel safe to really listen and reflect. To tell this story, all instruments and vocals except for the main vocals are a series of 16-bar loops that build on one another to create the song. The amazing efforts of Colin Robinson (mixer) and David Traver, Julie Woods-Robinson, and Mike Maegalhaes really brought this song to life.

To listen, please visit my Music page. I also have a music video on my YouTube account.

I hope this resonates with you in some small way.

-J


Jordan the Vegan

To the Average Joe, I’m a health freak; and to the health freak, I’m an Average Joe.

This is a picture of my meal right now… a vegan pizza with organic dough, vegan cheese, spinach, and mushrooms; a vegan chocolate chip cookie; a cold brew coffee with unsweetened almond milk; and a beer.

vegan meal

I’ve always been vegetarian… reared vegetarian, as they say. But there are about as many versions of vegetarianism as there are religions – each person has the same goal in mind but different ways to get there. For example:

  • Pescetarian (AKA Vege-quarium): Mostly eats vegetables but will regularly partake in seafood (you know, the vegetables o’ the ocean)
  • Lacto-Ovo: Mostly plant-based but will also eat indirect animal proteins such as eggs, cow’s milk, and honey
  • Vegan: Living a completely plant-based diet and lifestyle, without any animal proteins or animal products (leather, furs, feathers)

And, as the above picture has exemplified, being “vegetarian/vegan” is not synonymous with being “healthy.” So what fuels one to adopt a plant-based diet? And how does one maintain a plant-based diet while still having fun with what they eat?

My Story

I dabbled in veganism twice: once in Tennessee as a teenager and a second time in New York as a college student. The Tennessee experience didn’t last long because I ate away from home a lot and there is bacon and cheese in EVERYTHING. Then I tried again in New York where the vegan options were plentiful… but my bank account was not.

Fast forward about 5 years… I have a full time job, a house with a small herb garden, and I am obsessed with my health. I have been working out 5-6 days a week and a very impressive specimen of muscular health. But something in my life… some unforeseen force in my body… convinces me that it’s time to try veganism again. And this time it sticks.

I don’t stop animal products cold turkey. As a creature of habit (AKA human), I know how easy it would be to slip into a pattern of eating the same meal seven days a week because it’s the only vegan meal I know. So I do my research for about 3 months before adjusting my diet:

  • What supplements should I take? B12 is the only vitamin we can’t absorb from a plant-based diet so a multi-vitamin and a B Complex are fantastic. (My favorites are the Garden of Life products)
  • What is the ratio of milk to almond milk for substitutions in recipes? 1 to 1. Simply replace the ingredients and it works exactly the same.
  • All of the vegan recipes I find use super rare ingredients. Is it always going to be this hard? No. There are many plant-based chefs who are focused on using ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Check out Happy Herbivore and Minimalist Baker for some excellent examples.

These are simplified examples but you get the point. The idea was to go in armed with as much knowledge as possible so I didn’t have to change my lifestyle, but just make different choices along the way. Thanks to that, I know what to check for when reading ingredients labels at the store,  I know what to ask when I eat at a restaurant, and most importantly, I know how to cook for my family at home.

I also dabble as a mind reader…

Right now you’re thinking “But where do you get your protein?” Right? I see you nodding. I learned that one from Criss Angel. Good guy. Not a vegan, but a good guy.

Where do I get my protein? Beans (kidney, black, garbanzo, green, lima, edamame, pinto, adzuki), nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, cashews, pecans), green vegetables (avocado, broccoli, spinach, kale, brussels sprouts), lentils, quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, chickpeas, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, bulgur… you get it. I didn’t even get into the MASSIVE list of meat substitutes made by multiple companies including vegan hamburgers, hotdogs, fish fillets, sausage, ground beef, chicken strips, deli turkey, ham, cheese, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, etc…

Warning: Soap Box Moment

We are not meant to drink cow’s milk. Period. Even if many animals eat other animals for food, we are the only species that drinks the milk of another species. Cows produce milk to feed their calves so they can grow to be 400 pound cows. Imagine how confused our bodies are after we ween off of our mothers’ milk (presumably to be done with milk forever), only to start taking in cows milk. It’s crazy talk.

Secondly, the notion of “protein” being the most important part of a diet is a completely western philosophy. If you research many other countries in the world, a meal is primarily made of grains and vegetables with meat being added at the last moment (if at all) in order to provide an extra texture or flavor to the recipe.

In The China Study (the largest comprehensive study of human nutrition ever conducted), scientists could manipulate cancer cells and turn them ON or OFF like a light switch, completely dependent on the amount of animal protein being fed to the cells. Want to learn more about what they found? Here’s a quick article.

*SOAP BOX MOMENT OVER*

Be an Average Joe

If you’re interested in the vegan lifestyle (or just curious about cutting down your animal proteins), I suggest you do your research first. The only defense against inexperience is knowledge. If you’re a hardcore omnivore right now, work in phases. Maybe try this: 1) Research. 2) Cut out red meat. 3) Cut out poultry and seafood. 4) Cut out cheese, eggs, and milk. (Remember there are vegan substitutions for each of these food groupings to help ease the transition.)

Also remember: almost all food carries a certain level of toxins with it. Highest on the toxin list are factory-farmed animals who have poor diets, poor lifestyles, and are pumped with hormones. As you eat these products, the toxins are stored in your body. When you cut out these products, the toxins start to release and you’ll feel worse before you feel better. So don’t give up when you start to experience headaches. That’s your body improving itself and kicking the need for animal proteins. As soon as you move past it, you’ll have more energy, more focus, and less cravings.

If you want to do this, you can do it. And you don’t have to be a health freak. You can still be an Average Joe, just like me.