Being a vegan since April 2012 and having found my life partner -who eats a plant-based diet- has led me to start thinking about kids. I wish I have been raised vegan, so that I would not crave cheese like crazy those first months of veganism or so that I would not have to feel guilty about all the animals that I have already consumed. It only makes sense to us, as a couple, to look into raising our kids vegan and giving them the choice to choose what they eat, once they are old enough to make an informed decision on their own.
Of course, vegans are still a great minority, especially in Greece, where we come from, and in the Netherlands, where we live. This puts a great social pressure on people who decide to become parents and stay vegan and even raise their kids vegan. Unfortunately, when I started looking into books for vegan parents-to-be, I only found the two that I will talk about later in this post. They are a great start and quite informative, in their own way. But they were not enough for me, so I tried to gain more knowledge by reading about the experiences of vegan moms online. You will find links to their blogs at the end of this article.
“The Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide”
I am a book person and once we started thinking about the pregnancy I searched for books to read. “The Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide” by Sayward Rebhal was one of the two books I found. I liked it quite a lot because it had a calm tone and it was quite informative. It is a pocket book and not at all a “what to expect when you expect” kind of guide, but it does its job well.
There are five chapters dealing with pregnancy: 1. Planning Ahead, 2. Nutrition for Vegan Pregnancy, 3. Troubleshooting your trimesters, 4. Preparing for Labor and Planning a Hospital Stay, 5. The Social Stuff.
I found the “social stuff” chapter quite useful. I can be quite passionate about my beliefs at times and Sayward offers a great guide on how to deal with nosy friends and relatives without losing your temper. Being informed and calm helps a lot but the phrasing is also important.
The information about a hospital stay is also useful, as it talks about medication that might be administered to you and also about the habit of nurses giving babies milk formula without asking you first, while you are recovering. Apart from the baby’s food, you will also find it challenging to find anything vegan at the hospital, so preparing and freezing meals ahead of time is a great idea.
Sayward has also included two chapters dealing with the postpartum part of the pregnancy, having to do with dealing with baby blues and nutrition for breast feeding. Now, I have read about it online before, but it was quite interesting to read about it in a book: placentophagy. It is the act of consuming your own placenta after birth. A very controversial practice with no scientifically proven health benefits. Do google it though. You will come up with some pretty interesting stuff. Do not do it while you are enjoying your lunch though…
Sayward’s book includes quite a bit of alternative practices, like herbal healing. I personally love this natural approach and Sayward reminds the reader throughout the book to consult with their doctor before making any changes to their diets or drinking any herbal infusions.
I would say it is an honest book that has been written based on the author’s own life experiences, is non-judgmental and has a quite extensive list of references at the back.
“Skinny Bitch: Bun in the oven”
The other book that I read was “Skinny Bitch: Bun in the oven” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Now, if you have read Skinny Bitch already, you know their tone. I personally found it funny and laughed out loud a couple of times, but if you do not like people talking harshly to you, then you will need to “toughen up” -as the writers suggest- before reading this one.
As the writers mention, this is mainly a nutrition book and not focused on all the changes that happen to your body or the fetus. It is all about eating a healthy diet, cutting out sugar, smoking, alcohol, simple carbs and so on. They have a huge reference list of scientific papers that is a great resource if you want to read more about the science behind the health aspect of veganism.
The chapters of the book deal with one nutrient at the time. With titles such as “Carbs: Eat ‘Em, Dumb-Ass” and “Sugar Is Satan” you can imagine that you are not going to be bored reading the book. Even their “Stupid, Boring Vitamin Chapter” is fun to read (if you really care about what your growing fetus needs).
This one is a bigger, 330 pages book, but if you get the paperback version, it sure is light enough to carry around with you and read while you commute.
As I said, I am a book person. Unfortunately, with only two books being dedicated exclusively to the vegan pregnancy (there are some for vegetarian pregnancies, but they were not for me), I needed to look around for more information.
Following are some links of websites of vegan moms. Amanda, of Chubby Vegan Mom has replied to a very lengthy e-mail that I sent her about vegan pregnancy questions and I am sure that many other mom-bloggers would be willing to help you out. So go ahead and contact them if you have any questions!
An important side note
Of course, pregnancy is different for every woman and their partners (if there is a partner involved) and I am in no way suggesting that people take the issue lightly and follow book advice, without consulting their dietician and obstetricians/ gynecologists. I have no medical specialization whatsoever and this is why I turned to those books. I needed to see if there is enough scientific data to prove that a vegan pregnancy can be a healthy pregnancy. And there is. I need to stress though that my personal point of view on the matter is that mothers to be should be ready to consider taking medication -even if it is not vegan- for the sake of their health or the baby’s, in case of complications. I would love to read your opinions about it on the comments section as well. I am not a mother yet, thus the experience of those who have been through it is valuable. Please fee l free to share it with us!
*You can check out all the “Family and Parenting” posts here*