My Dad may be a robot (and a note about my great uncle)

22 Jan

Last week something strange happened. My Dad asked me for help. This likely does not seem worth mentioning, but that’s only because you don’t know my father. Let me paint a picture: he’s a stoic, stubborn German dude who emigrated to Canada and brought along with him many of the stereotypical aphorisms about life being relentlessly hard, and thankless work being the cornerstone of any financially secure life. I love my Dad, even if we don’t agree on– well, almost anything.

Take for example, not eating animals. My father has in his arsenal at all times, unsolicited advice about: protein, calcium, how good meat is for you, eating like our ancestors, how meat staves off illness, etc. He’s not rude, it’s just that food, like all other subjects, happens to be something he has a strong opinion on (even/especially if that opinion is based on folk nutrition, overvaluing tradition, cognitive dissonance, etc).

So you can imagine my surprise when last week on the phone, out of the blue, he starts telling me about what stops him from eating vegan (or at least mainly vegan). Had I been sipping a beverage, I would have spit it out. Had I been chewing gum, I’d have bitten off my tongue. Had I been with him in person, I’d have been looking for visible signs of circuitry. Who was this honest, vulnerable robot imposter and what did he do with my generally pessimistic, dismissive father?

{As an aside, I have three main theories about what happened: 1) He finally watched the copy of ‘Forks Over Knives’ I gave him two Christmases ago; 2) One of the vegans he works with rubbed off on him or 3) Aliens. As it stands, I haven’t asked him, and I could care less.}

We talked for quite a while. I dropped all the usual sound bites: the inherent violence of slaughter, cholesterol and saturated fats, environmental problems, and all the great alternatives that now exist. He told me the single greatest barrier to him eating vegan is: he cannot picture what he’d eat.

He told me when we took him to Hogtown Vegan (an AMAZING vegan restaurant in Toronto) he was super happy seeing that so many of his favourite foods could be veganized. He wants to see more of it, and frankly, I can’t really blame him. I want him to see all the great alternatives that exist because although we’d eventually like to see people eating a wide array of whole plant foods, you can’t ask someone who goes from eating a burger and fries to chow down on a quinoa salad with tempeh. They’ll give up before they even start. That’s not human nature, and such a rapid shift is simply not going to jive with the powerful pull of the human palette.

So my Dad asked me {*drum roll please*} if I would prepare enough dishes for his lunch and dinner for the week for him, and he’d come pick them up. That’s right. The guy who once told me fish is practically a vegetable is asking me for my culinary charity. He said he’ll gladly pay for it all, he just wants to experience what eating vegan could really be like, because he “knows” it’s better. I’M AS SHOCKED AS YOU.

So here’s where I ask you folks to help me, help my Dad. Please offer up your most delicious recipes in the comments section focused on these 3 main criteria:

  1. Taste! Give me the salt, the fat, the sweet. I don’t mean give me excessive amounts of it, but no fat-phobic recipes allowed!
  2. Familiarity! This is for a man in his 60’s who thinks iceberg lettuce is a superfood.
  3. Ease! Nothing too complicated as I’ll ultimately be teaching him to replicate the recipes himself, and apart from some OJ and a few bananas, his kitchen looks like a movie set, and his soup cupboard looks like a disorganized Andy Warhol exhibit.

I thank you in advance for this, and encourage you to keep checking back! I’ll be charting my Dad’s progress, and what worked/didn’t work.

One last aside: several months ago, my Dad told me that his uncle bought some cattle for his farm out in the prairies. His intention was, like all other farmers, to make money (to feed the cows until they were big enough to slaughter). But something happened to him. My great uncle became very attached to the cows and couldn’t send them to slaughter. So he kept them. He kept them and let them live out their natural lives, despite being laughed at by the rest of his Mennonite community. My Dad told this story with a sparkle in his eye, a sparkle that was just barely discernible at the time. I’m not one to overvalue genes, but between you and me: I love knowing that the blood that ran through my uncle’s veins in that more oppressive time, is running through mine, and that my decision to love animals instead of eating them is the next logical step in the refusal to send them to their death. I realized today that the same blood is also running through my father’s veins. And this makes me hopeful. For him, and for us all, and ultimately for the animals.

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11 Responses to “My Dad may be a robot (and a note about my great uncle)”

  1. Luna January 22, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Really happy to leave some recipes. Can you give us some examples of your Dad’s favourite food to get me started?

    • The Veganomaly January 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      Hi Luna!

      He likes the standard North American dietary fare. Burgers, roasted chicken, french fries, pasta. He likes rich and salt!

      • Debra Roppolo January 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

        This isn’t a recipe, but it’s a total no-brainer: Gardein “buffalo” wings and “chicken” fingers! It’s all about the sauce, baby. ;-)

  2. My Heathen Heart January 22, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Love it!

  3. Jonathan January 22, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    THAT’S SO EXCITING!!!!!!!! And a well-written post as usual!
    I thought I was finished reading your post when I got to your call-out for recipes, and I thought “Finally! A post that didn’t bring a tear to my eye!”–but after scrolling down and reading that last paragraph…. need i say more? y’just got a knack for pulling at our heart strings, bud (:

    Lick’s burgers with fries
    Anything gardein!
    Spaghetti, prego, veggie crumble and broccoli

    “Wendy’s Black Bean Chili”
    1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, 1tbsp olive oil, 2cups black beans, 1 (156ml) can tomato paste, 1cup corn, 1/4cup water, 1tbsp braggs, 1tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1tsp dry sweetener (cane sugar), 1tsp chili powder, 1/2tsp salt, 1/2tsp black pepper

    In medium pot over medium-high heat, sauté onion, carrot and celery in oil for few minutes. Add everything else for approx. 15mins! Serve over brown rice!

    • The Veganomaly January 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Thanks, Jon! Great suggestions. Hope you’re well, buddy. Miss you!

  4. Jonathan January 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    A couple of quick & easy desserts:

    Waffle ice cream sandwiches (I used Nature’s Path frozen waffles w/ Coconut Bliss ice cream with success)

    Cut a banana in half, then slice the halves in half for a total of 4 pieces; cover them in almond/peanut butter; sprinkle with ground flax seeds; cut strawberries in half and place on top; add agave or maple syrup on top (totally not necessary, but if the guy’s got a sweet tooth…;)

  5. Debra Roppolo January 23, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    What a great post! You must be thrilled. I’ll give some thought to recipes for you (even though I’m not the chief cook in the house). :-)

  6. Kate Burgess (@jkatebee) January 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    How lovely! One of my favourite things is when my veg-shy loved ones make the attempt to try out some new recipes! It’s not only great for the movement but for me, it always feels like a gesture of love between us! Here is a recipe for an awesome chili (it’s actually the chili from With the Grain). It’s really great with melted Daiya on top, but is equally yummy plain! I usually double the recipe because it freezes really well.

    2 medium onions, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 carrots, diced
    2 Tbsp Olive (or veg. oil)
    1 each red & yellow pepper
    2 small zucchini
    2 stalks celery
    1 (12oz) can whole tomatoes
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    1/4 cup red wine (sometimes I sub in red wine vinegar, if I don’t have any wine on hand).
    1 1/2 tsp black pepper
    2 tsp ground cumin
    2 tsp ground chili powder
    2 tsp tabasco sauce
    1 cup fresh or frozen corn
    1/4 cup fresh chopped
    1 (12oz) can kidney beans,

    Heat oil in a large pot for 1 minute. Add onion, garlic and carrot and sauté over medium heat until onions are translucent and carrots begin to cook.The onions and carrots take
    the longest so it’s important to pre-cook them before adding everything else.

    Dice peppers, zucchini and celery then add and continue to sauté 5 more minutes.

    Add tomatoes, lemon, wine, and seasonings and simmer until carrots are soft (10 to 15

    Stir in corn, parsley and beans, heat through and serve.

  7. Debra Roppolo January 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    Okay, here’s one for you — it’s part of what I just had for lunch. It’s a grain-and-nut loaf (like vegan meatloaf) and it was sensational! Husband made it last night and says while the ingredient list is long, it only took him about 20 minutes to whip it up. Recipe is here: Paul substituted short-grain brown rice for the lentils.


  1. Dad tries vegan! « the veganomaly - January 28, 2013

    […] case you missed the post, last week my Dad confirmed he has either had his eyes opened or his body snatched by aliens who […]

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