Interview with Sayward Rebhal, author of Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide »
My general strategy for attacking something that’s new or unknown to me — or even just interesting — is to bury myself in information, often in the form of books. This has lead to a personal library that covers a few topics, like cats and vegan cooking and nutrition, in great depth. It also probably makes people think I’m weird, but I am a nerd and I like to arm myself with information!
Naturally, when I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to stock up on all the pregnancy and baby books I could get my hands on. There are a lot of those, to be sure, but there aren’t that many that address concerns specific to vegan (or even vegetarian) pregnant women. My experiences in skipping over a lot of stuff like “How much dairy to eat while you’re pregnant” is part of why I wanted to do this series for Vegansaurus in the first place. It’s also why I was so happy to receive a copy of Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal, awesome blogger of Bonzai Aphrodite and badass vegan mama.
VPSG is a short read, but it’s packed with information — even with as much as I’d read already, I found stuff to take away from the book that I hadn’t yet come across. It’s also nicely organized — you can read the whole thing or just flip to the section that’s relevant for where you are in your baby-growing experience. And it’s friendly and conversational without having that irritating “Girlfriend OMG let me tell you ALL ABOUT pregnancy!!!1!!” attitude that some women-oriented reference books employ. I think I dog-eared every second page of this one and I know I’ll come back to it often.
Ms. Rebhal was kind enough to answer some questions for me about the book, her own pregnancy experience, and what she hopes to work on next. Read on!
What made you decide to write a book about pregnancy from a vegan perspective?
When I first found out I was pregnant, I did what most newly knocked-up ladies do: I went looking for books! At the Herbivore store here in Portland, I was wandering around in circles when the owner, Michelle, asked if I needed anything. I said, “Yeah, where are all the books on vegan pregnancy?” And she was like “NOWHERE … you should write one!”
That was basically the start of my friendship with Michelle and Josh. They were awesome during my pregnancy, and after my son was born, I decided to take Michelle up on her offer. I wanted to write a book so that other people wouldn’t have to do what I did (hours and hours of exhaustive research, piecing the puzzle together from every corner of the Internet), and I asked Josh and Michelle if they would help me publish it. Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide was released by Herbivore in late 2011.
Were there any particular challenges you came across in finding information about pregnancy and post-partum care for vegans?
Yes and no. I mean, the underlying pregnancy and post-partum care is the same for vegans as it is for non-vegetarians. We all have the same requirements, you know? So it was more a matter of understanding universal pregnancy/postpartum needs, and then modifying things with a vegan twist. Mostly it was pretty straightforward. Sometimes it took a little creativity, which was fun (if you’re a geek like me). Sometimes, like when I had to spend a whole day calling all the major over-the-counter drug manufacturers to verify which products were and were not vegan, well that was not so easy or fun.
How has the response to the book been?
So great! There was definitely a hole there that needed to be filled. Especially since, I think, becoming pregnant can be sort of unsettling. It was for me. I never doubted my choices until I was pregnant, but when you’re suddenly responsible for a life … and it happens to be the very most precious life in the whole world … that’s a ton of pressure! So I think a lot of women are just grateful to have a little friend in their back pocket going “Yeah! You got this! Here, try X or Y or Z, you’re doing awesome.”
You’ve had one vegan pregnancy now — is there anything you’d do differently the next time around?
I’d take my own advice, and eat less sugar!
Any favorite vegan products for pregnant women and babies?
Oh yes. The brand Earth Mama Angel Baby is all vegan/cruelty-free and really amazing. Their stuff uses only natural ingredients and the whole line receives a “0” on the Cosmetic Safety Database rating system (that’s the best score, it means no risk whatsoever). The Baby Bottom Balm is great for diaper rash prevention, and the Mama Nipple Butter is essential for those first few weeks of breastfeeding. Every other nipple product (and I mean EVERY one) uses lanolin. Earth Mama Angel Baby has all sorts of other products too. They’re the best!
Finally, are you planning a follow-up book — vegan child care, perhaps?!
Honestly, I think the most important lesson I’ve learned as a parent is that you just can’t judge other parents, because kids are just too different and every situation is unique. So I don’t think I’d feel comfortable instructing people on how to raise their kids.
However, for the same reason that I wrote Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide, I’d love to write a kid-centric cookbook. There’s not a lot out there for vegan kiddos! I’m super lucky to have a huge community of vegan families in my area, and I dream of compiling a massive compendium filled with their most delicious, nutritious, children-approved recipes. Lots of color, lots of photos, lots of stories and style and tips and strategies. I have such a strong vision for this book, and I really hope to see it through some day. (Hey publishers - email me!) (Just kidding) (No, but not really)
Thanks, Sayward! And everyone, read my other posts about vegan pregnancy and let’s rap about swollen ankles and designing nurseries on Pinterest. Go!
Easy activism: Go shopping to help the thousands of chickens rescued from Cali egg farm! »
Here’s a simply amazing video documenting the rescue. Incredible. Watch it and then I defy you not to donate. The song is perfect too. Excellent work! PS: Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com
The 4,460 hens rescued from the 50,000 hens left to starve in Stanislaus County—the Turlock Hen Rescue—still need our help. What can you do? Go shopping! Food Fight Grocery and some other fine retailers are going to be donating a portion of their sales on these specific days:
- Food Fight will be donating 10% of all online sales (and in-store for those in Portland) on Saturday, March 3.
- Herbivore Clothing will be donating 10% of all their online sales (and in-store) March 3rd and 4th (someone said they’d be donating sales now as well but I can’t confirm)
- Purrfect Pinapples will be donating 20% of this weekend’s sales too. Cruelty-free lingerie! Handmade! Wow!
- Blue Strawberry Scents will donate 10% of their sales for the next week. Buy you some cool soap!
- And I just saw on the event page that for the next month (to March 24th) Veganville on Etsy will donate 15% of all online sales to Animal Place.
Check out the event page for more info and updates. Food Fight adds this note:
If you were planning to place an order, please do it on Saturday, and if you don’t need anything, maybe go here and donate directly.
If you can’t spend any money right now, then please spread the word about these fundraisers and about the rescue.
And don’t forget to sign the petition started by Harvest Home to bring the man responsible for this catastrophe to justice.
Herbivore has a new menu. Discuss. »
Herbivore, everyone’s favorite S.F. Bay Area vegan restaurant (to feel ho-hum about) just released an updated menu (warning: PDF). They added fajitas, pizza, penne with meatballs, and a bunch of other stuff. I’m curious if it’ll all be good like the shawarma or kale salad or bad like EVERYTHING ELSE. I know sometimes I’m hard on Herbivore but that’s because they’re completely complacent and could be bring so much more deliciousness to the table. I’m super thankful there are all vegan restaurants but I want those restaurants to be better than all the other restaurants! So that when people eat at them, they’re like, “G’DAMN! VEGANS KNOW WHAT’S UP!” Not, “This was alright?”
I mean, look at Native Foods! Chef Tanya is ALWAYS BRINGING IT! Testing recipes, updating menus, holiday meals, events, everything! Herbivore seems like they don’t really care about making customers super happy and are fine with being just serviceable.
Anyway, what do you think of the new menu items? Have you tried any? Will you try any? Do you think I’m pretty? Let’s dish.
[Hat tip, Dawn!]
It’s time for another SF Vegan Bakesale! Who’s baking? »
Hey Bay Area! The next SF Vegan Bakesale is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 30—that’s next Sunday! The profits for this bakesale will go to Performing Animal Welfare Society, which is an awesome organization that helps rescue and find sanctuary for animals that have been “victims of the exotic and performing animals trade,” as well as “investigat[ing] reports of abused performing and exotic animals, document[ing] cruelty and assist[ing] in investigations and prosecutions by regulatory agencies to alleviate the suffering of captive wildlife.” So awesome!
We’ll see you next week on Sunday, Oct. 30, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in front of Herbivore, at 983 Valencia at 20th Street in the Mission!
[photo by digiyesica via Flickr]
What the fuck is this and why don’t I own it? I am so pissed right now, WTF YOU GUYS?! How has this wallet been MADE FOR ME and nobody thought to purchase it for me! It’s like you all just REFUSE TO GIVE ME FREE SHIT.
I can’t take it anymore! All I do is bitch and whine and beg for free stuff that I don’t deserve and not one of you has heard my pleas. You’re all busy giving your money to charities and other useless shit! I can’t take it!
Also, who else thinks the Meatless Monday Unicorn should get his/her/its face on a wallet? EVERY SMART PERSON EVER, that’s who!
Jenn Shagrin of Veganize It…Don’t Criticize It and new cookbook Veganize This! »
Introducing Jenn Shagrin (aka, Jenn Shaggy!) from the fantastic vegan blog/vegan blog with BEST NAME EVER, Veganize It…Don’t Criticize It! and the upcoming cookbook, Veganize This!. We love her and her blog, her new cookbook appears to be UNSANE; this lady can veganize pretty much anything and her recipes freak us out, in a totally good way. You need to get to know her and then buy her book and bookmark her blog and be a better/fatter person because of it!
Are you vegan for health, environmental, animal rights reasons, or a combination?
I’m definitely a vegan for a combination of reasons. First and foremost, I’m against cruelty to animals of any kind. I even feel guilty when I have to yell at my dog for chewing up my undies. I also don’t want to contribute to the negative impact that animal-product consumption has on the environment. As for health reasons, that’s probably the lowest on the list. It’s great that I’ll most likely have low cholesterol, but I also occasionally veganize some fried or comfort foodie goodness, so I’ll leave it up to chance.
How long have you been vegan? Why did you become vegan?
I’ve been a vegan for about six years now. My path to veganism started many moons ago when I read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and realized exactly where that steak on my plate was sourced. Reading that book sparked my interest in animal rights, and vegetarianism onto veganism seemed the obvious path to travel. My best friend going vegetarian in our early teens additionally motivated me to cut meat out initially, then meeting my first vegan friend when I moved to California helped me realize I could make the full transition.
Do you have any companion animals? Where are they from?
I have two adorable dogs. Izzy, a Cairn terrier mix, who we rescued from a shelter here in Los Angeles. He’s a lucky dog, as he was abandoned as a puppy and fell ill with parvo. He’s definitely our little survivor. Our second dog, Pepper, we rescued from Louisiana just days before he was going to be dropped off at the pound. He’s a Miniature Pinscher mix, but believes he’s the size of a Bullmastiff.
Do you have any super-cute photos of animals to share with us? Favorite animal videos on YouTube?
Here’s a great picture of our pups laying together. All right, maybe it’s a little TMI (which you’re used to if you read my blog), but they’re total gay lovers.
What is your favorite animal? I know, this one is REALLY TOUGH.
Well punch me in the gut and call me sissy, because I couldn’t pick one from the other. Actually, I take that back. My family’s dog, a bluetick Beagle named Farfel, was my favorite animal ever. He was such a bad ass. No one could tell him what to do.
When did you start Veganize It…Don’t Criticize It!? What’s your favorite recipe from the blog?
I started Veganize It…Don’t Criticize It! in April of 2008. It’s my weekly creative release. My current favorite recipe is the "Turkey," Tarragon, and "Mascarpone" Lasagna, but that’ll probably change in about a week, so you may want to check back.
How did your upcoming cookbook, Veganize This! come about? What’s your favorite recipe from the book?
Veganize This! was definitely the spawn of my blog. Everyone I knew kept asking why on earth I didn’t just put all my recipes and ramblings together, and I finally just sat down and compiled the first manuscript in two very sleepless weeks. The process of finding a literary agent and publisher happened so fast after that, I’m inclined to believe someone sprinkled fairy dust on my mom’s womb prior to my birth. My favorite recipe has to be a fusion dish called "Chicken" Marsala Masala with Fresh Morels. It’s divine.
What’s your favorite other vegan cookbook?
To be perfectly honest (and I’ll probably get my ass kicked for this one), I don’t read a lot of vegan cookbooks because I’m so focused on veganizing the un-vegan. But if I had to pick just one, I’d have to say Vegan with a Vengeance. It really inspired me.
Favorite vegan dish at a restaurant?
This also changes constantly, but as of late, Masa of Echo Park’s vegan Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza is off the chain.
Are you willing to have Vegansaurus over and cook us a vegan feast? If so, what day?
No. Haha…gotcha! Of course I will. Next time I go visit my parents in SF, I’ll whip up a buffet.
Any questions for Vegansaurus? Anything!
Boxers or briefs? Wait, wait. I can do better. What am I missing out on food-wise when I visit SF? What’s the best of the best? Some of my favorites are Millennium, Ike’s Place, Herbivore and Cha-Ya…just so you know where I’ve already hit up. (Ed.; That’s hard! Email me and let me know what your favorite kind of food is and I’ll customize a SF restaurant guide for you!)
[All photos from Jenn Shagrin, except that delicious Vihn Loi Tofu shot from quarrygirl!]
Work at Native Foods! In San Francisco! THAT’S RIGHT NATIVE FOODS IS COMING TO SF! »
The amaaaaaazing southern California vegan chain, Native Foods, is coming to SF, and they want to hire you! In your face, Depression 2.0! I mean, at least a little bit, they can’t hire all your funemployed asses.
Man, I love Native Foods so much, and if you don’t already, you will soon love it, too. Could you even read that sentence? Moving on! It’s Herbivore (hey! it’s one of the first ever Vegansaurus reviews! A classic, if you will AND YOU WILL) taken to the next level. Chicken Run Ranch Burger, would you mind if I hollered at you?
*You know, a quality one. JOKE I KNOW I AM SO LUCKY TO HAVE HERBIVORE I SHOULD BE THANKFUL.
The second World Wide Vegan Bakesale is cooooooming y’all! Yay! And Herbivore designed this dope shirt to celebrate the event. It’s hella cute and you know you want it so buy it and they are donating some of the money made from the sale to animal causes. Sorry, I can’t get more specific than that because that’s all the info on the website.
I WILL SAY THIS: I’ve been ordering from Herbivore for like seven years (maybe longer?) and they’ve never been anything but the nicest and most professional and best. I don’t know why I felt the need to type a love letter just there but I’m feeling pretty down about how the whole world is backwards and insane and so they make me happy. Go on, Herbivore. I would do a sexy dance for you but you’re far away/have eyes.
Just an FYI—the next SF Vegan Bakesale will be on May 8 so it misses the WWVBS by a weekend. I know, we suck, but we just couldn’t get our shit together IT’S REALLY HARD, OK? Actually, it’s not hard, I’m just a mess. Hopefully we can be an honorary part of the WWVBS because I love it so and won’t take no for an answer. That’s what makes me an excellent salesperson/stalker.
Herbivore is selling this cute shirt, all proceeds going to help groups aiding in relief to Haiti. Buy one if you have a passion for fashion and doing good! See what I did there! Barely!
Anywho, $18 bucks for the shirt (includes shipping within the United States). Deal.