My first pregnancy everyone made a huge deal about my diet, not because I was a teenager living on diet coke and Ritz crackers, but because I was vegan. By the time I conceived Ivy I had been on a strict vegan diet for 3 ½ years and had managed to not die so I figured I knew what I was doing. At that point they had me writing down everything I ate and reported to a nutritionist which I never did and funny thing is that my kid turned out just fine. Since then I have never been questioned by my Dr. about my food choices during 2nd or 3rd pregnancies, I feel the Dr.’s realize it’s healthier than the way many pregnant ladies eat.
Being vegan throughout my life I’ve come across many people who’ve asked many questions as to why I chose this lifestyle, they criticize my decisions or make it seem as if I’m denying myself meat and dairy by some other force and they will “show off” the fact they are eating it. It doesn’t bother me, I didn’t choose to eat like this to impress anyone or gain their approval; I just didn’t want to eat it.
The pregnancy and breastfeeding website Kellymom.com reports that a mom who does not consume animal protein would benefit from taking a B12 supplement and moms that are strict vegan (no meat, eggs, dairy) should also monitor their calcium and zinc possible taking a supplement. In other words, take your prenatal vitamins! (And yes there are vegan prenatal vitamins, Rainbow Light Prenatal One is my favorite.)
Breastfeeding is no different being vegan or not. Not until my last child was born did I research the benefits of ‘super foods’ that can increase or maintain a healthy supply, many of which are vegan friendly. Beans, berries and broccoli are amongst the recommended during pregnancy while oatmeal, almonds, apricots, spinach, dates, sesame seeds, calcium enriched tofu and brown rice help during breastfeeding.
My son exceeded weight goals while being exclusively breastfed for the first 7 months of his life and continues a healthy weight now at 21 months old. I have no doubt in my mind that I continued to do the right thing by my body and my children’s by maintaining a vegan diet.