Tag Archives: veganism and kids

Guest Blogger: The Barefoot Essence – Wheat, and soy ….oh my!

23 Aug

Please welcome back Jackie, author of the blog Barefoot Essence, for her hat trick appearance on VBU! Feel free to read her previous posts:  Change your diet, skip surgery and I’m a shareholder…in Community Shared Agriculture. Stay in touch with Jackie through her Facebook, Twitter and blog. Welcome back Jackie!

When I met my husband in 2003 I was about 30 pounds heavier than I am today. I tried many diets and some were successful, until I stopped following them. I lost 20 pounds or so shortly after getting married by getting a dog and becoming more physically active. I started to pay closer attention to what I ate noticed I had more energy and my clothes were getting looser.

Fast forward to pregnancy. Pregnancy was a time where I really began to pay attention to what was going in, and on my body. I was growing another body inside of me; I had a responsibility to ensure my baby was healthy. I received the extensive list of forbidden foods from my doctor. I was told to avoid cold cuts, soft cheese, fish more than once a week and undercooked meat, as these could all pose a risk to the fetus. I gained about 50 pounds with both of my pregnancies. I ate a mostly healthy diet incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately I negated the healthy food effects by eating ice cream every, single, evening.

After I had Jacob, I wanted to get back to my ‘normal’ weight. I paid attention to serving size and ate as healthy as I knew how to at the time. I did a lot of walking. This was easy as we lived in Chicago at the time. I would pack up Jacob and some diapers and go for a 10-mile walk, peeking into shops and eating lunch in grassy parks. I had heard somewhere that dairy should be avoided to assist in weight loss. I replaced my huge daily glass of skim chocolate milk with soy chocolate milk and ate cheese only occasionally. I watched the weight fall off effortlessly. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight in three months.

When Jacob was about a year old, I became more conscious of our family’s eating habits. I had to feed my son real food now. I had a responsibility. I began reading books by Michael Pollan; ‘The Omnivores Dilemma’ and ‘In Defense of Food’. His books made me question our nation’s food supply. How much processing happens to the chicken nugget in that cardboard box at McDonalds? I began arming myself with as much food education as possible. I watched the documentary ‘Food, Inc.’ and switched to mostly organic foods. I read the books ‘Skinny Bitch’ and ‘The Thrive Diet’ which both advocate an animal-free diet. Animal free? I grew up eating animals, so did my parents, didn’t we need protein from them? And milk? The milk ads on television tell us we need three servings a day. I thought back to all the ‘forbidden foods’ from my pregnancy – they were all animal products. If those foods were unsafe for me when I was pregnant, why would they be safe any other time? Hmmmmm. That was a moment of clarity. I began having more meat-free meals and still had the occasional cheese or yogurt. I felt better when I avoided meat, but I still felt bloated by the afternoon. I was also getting sinus infections several times a year and had terrible seasonal allergies. At the recommendation of a massage therapist I saw a naturopath. The naturopath asked me to document what I was eating for a week. She noticed I ate yogurt daily and suggested I go without dairy for about three weeks to see how I felt. After about two weeks without dairy I wasn’t sure if felt a difference or not, was it all in my head? Then I had a bowl of ice cream. I was instantly bloated and gassy. Nope, never doing that again. Goodbye dairy.

When I was pregnant with Talia, I ate a mostly plant-based diet, I avoided dairy like the plague and ate meat once or twice a month, usually if someone else was cooking it. After I had Talia, I ate a plant-based diet 99% of the time during my pregnancy and afterwards, and lost the weight effortlessly in two months. I say 99% because I don’t worry about that trace of egg that might be in that veggie burger on the restaurant menu.

I still felt bloated after eating whole-wheat pasta, however. I wondered if this was bothering me as well so I eliminated it for a few weeks. In one week I lost 10 pounds I didn’t even know I needed to lose! I had some fresh bread at a restaurant a few weeks later as a test, and I paid for it dearly. I consulted a naturopath again to perform food sensitivity testing. I had good suspicion these foods didn’t agree with me and the test results echoed this feeling – I was sensitive to several things, including wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and peanuts.

Today, I eat a plant-based, allergen-free diet and have never felt better. You don’t realize how sick you are until you feel amazing! I don’t stress about traces of these foods in things like gluten free bread at a restaurant or in a piece of organic, fair-trade dark chocolate as they don’t seem to bother me, and having a more relaxed approach also keeps me healthy. By listening to what my body was telling me I was able to find the perfect lifestyle for me. I feel lighter, I don’t get bloated, my seasonal allergies have disappeared, I haven’t had a sinus infection in years, I think more clearly and sleep soundly. I am also still losing weight without even trying. I’m letting my body guide itself towards a natural weight …and I need to replace a lot of items in my wardrobe again.

Guest Blogger: The Sweet Life – Pregnant and Vegan

25 May

This is a first for VBU! a blog post about being a vegan mother. Please welcome Sarah, author of the blog The Sweet Life. Here she is in her own words, “Hi, my name is Sarah. I am a classically trained pastry chef who has been a vegan for almost 6 years. I aim to show even the most skeptical people how truly delicious vegan food tastes. Coming up with the perfect pastry cream or chocolate mousse is what I’m all about…well partially what I’m all about. I am also a new mom to a strong, healthy, vegan baby girl and every day she remind me why I choose compassion for the animals, for the earth, and for our community. My blog is an eclectic vegan resource for newbies and veterans alike.” Visit The Sweet Life Facebook page. Please welcome Sarah!

my extremely healthy, usually happy baby
By the time I got pregnant I had been a vegan for five years. Everyone knew me as vegan and the questions of “why” and “what do you eat” had long since past. So when I got pregnant a year ago I was surprised at the constant question, “Are you going to have a vegan pregnancy?” The question startled me every time because I hadn’t thought about it any other way. In fact I believed (and still do) that the vegan diet was the healthier choice for my fetus. Most questions were just curious, some cautious, but a few down right caustic.


“Do you know what you’re doing to your unborn child?” Their eyes would say. “How can you be so selfish?” And, “what kind of mother are you going to be?”


Was I being selfish? Or perhaps just naive and clueless? I spent a lot of early prenatal appointments talking to my doctor about this, making sure I hadn’t just been reading one-sided literature that would severely harm my child.


My wonderfully open-minded doctor helped me regain my confidence and with a little extra attention on my diet I birthed an extremely healthy, usually happy baby.


This is what I did: 

Raspberry Vanilla Protein Shake
1. Protein: A pregnant woman needs 75 grams of protein a day! That is a lot. In order to start off right I made sure to eat at least 30 grams for my morning meal. I did this through soy protein shakes I would make in bulk for the entire week, protein bars (I fell in love with Larabars  and started making my own version), and lots and lots of tofu and beans.

2. Calcium: I made sure to buy calcium-fortified soy milk and orange juice, ate calcium  chews (until I got so sick of them I had to hide the bag), and ate a lot of dark leafy greens. Did you know 3/4 cup collard greens as more calcium than 1 cup cows milk?

3. Supplements: Taking supplements was a new practice, but a very important one. I took (and still take for breast feeding) Rainbow Light Prenatal One, a fantastic vegetarian prenatal that only needs to be taken once a day, B12 (very important pregnant moms!), and Iron. I can proudly say my iron levels stayed great throughout my whole pregnancy).

4. Read. I spent a lot of time on websites and in the backs of cookbooks determining my nutritional needs and planning out how to fulfill them.There are many great resources for vegans during pregnancy. The Vegan Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal, one of the first books dedicated solely for pregnant vegans, is a great resource I came across after giving birth. I found it important to stay well informed both for myself and my concerned friends and family.

5. Support. I was very fortunate to have a doctor who supported my veganism but I have heard stories of people defending their decision to their health care providers and not receiving their support. It is so important to find a nurse, midwife, or doctor who will work with your lifestyle choices and believe in the inherent health of a vegan diet.

6. Cravings. When the cravings came, I quickly found foods that would satisfy. The grocery store two blocks away carried vegan scones and I spent a lot of my days off stocking up. At home when I craved something sweet and chocolatey I had fast go-to recipes like my no-bake cookies. There was also a time I ate a lot of processed fake meat. Aware of all the foods available to me and with reliable, fast recipes there was never a time I was unable to satisfy a craving.

And in the end…

I had a great, though not without struggles, birth and a beautiful baby girl…wanna take another look?

As my journey continues I learn how to have a vegan baby who will grow into a vegan toddler. I’m sure there will be lots to share. And maybe next time I’ll tell you what I did with my placenta. 🙂

Do you have any vegan pregnancy thoughts or stories?