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!
Public radio presents biased perspective on ethical eating »
The discussion thread for Oregon Public Broadcasting’s (OPB) radio program on ”Knowing Your Meat“ quickly spurred lots of rage and debate among the Portland vegan community (thanks to the folks at Herbivore clothing via their twitter @herbivorecc)—and rightly so.
The photo affiliated with the discussion—something previously talked about on Vegansaurus—is unbelievably sickening. I can only imagine holding a dead animal like that if she had been a beloved companion animal, not something I was about to EAT. Naomi Pomeroy, the woman from the photo and the owner of the restaurant Beast, says that the photo is meant to help us acknowledge that the meat we come from was once a living animal. An ex-vegetarian herself, Pomeroy suggests we should only eat meat if we know where the animal’s from. I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly why I won’t eat meat. It seems ludicrous to eat something that was once a living and breathing sentient being.
The ethics of this woman are very strange to me. On the website for Beast she says that “pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans would find it a challenge to enjoy our six-course dinners.” Uh, OK? But honestly, what more could we expect from a woman who turned away from vegetarianism for the benefit of her business? To feel like she was still doing something “good,” Pomeroy decided to start sourcing the meat for Beast from “ethical” and “local” distributors. This was the whole reason for the online discussion and radio broadcast: finding out if it’s worth it to only purchase “ethical” and “local” meats, and if so, where do you draw the line?
I agree with Michelle from Herbivore: She wanted to know why they weren’t going to have any vegans or vegetarians as guests on the radio show. Just because we personally don’t eat meat doesn’t mean we can’t offer some valid points on ethical eating. Instead the whole broadcast was full of ex-vegetarians calling in to explain why they began eating meat (hint: it’s always because they could now get it from ethical sources). My question here is, where were all the vegan callers!? I know there were no shortage of vegans posting on the internet discussion, but not a single one was on the radio. I’m worried that OPB screened the calls, or maybe no vegans actually called in, which either way is a serious shame. According to the Think Out Loud blog there were a few technical difficulties with the calls. I understand that a few off the calls were dropped instead of being put on hold. Instead I listened to someone who had been a vegetarian for over 20 years describe how she started eating meat out of respect for her husband’s avid hunting.
One of the other callers (also an ex-vegetarian) spoke about buying whole animals to have butchered for food for her and her husband. The caller said she wasn’t yet ready raise her own animals for food for fear of growing attached to them. I think this sums up what is wrong with her meat-eating. She’s admitting she has a problem with the death of animals for food, so why try to deny that by continuing to eat them? Also, please see:
[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!]
I’m sad this radio broadcast failed to represent realistic ways for Portlanders (and anyone for that matter) to eat truly ethically. [Ed.: Perhaps we can all email the OPD programming folks and ask for Thinking Out Loud to do a show on ethical eating? LET’S ALL DO IT! It’s your five-minute activism for the day!]
This guest op-ed was brought to you by Chelsea Catchpole, a vegan who hails from the mystical land of Portland, Oregon. She is a barista by day and a blogger, climber, and “chef” by night. You can normally find her wandering the isles of New Seasons or The People’s co-op, spending way too much money on new foods. The rest of her free time is spent cuddling with her two cats, Sushi and Mojo-Jojo. You can read her other musings at Stumpy Vegan.
Today is for the pigs! »
Happy National Pig Day!
Today, Smithfield “Foods” celebrates these beautiful, smart, and amazing creatures by eating them! Makes sense. Whenever I really want to express my love for Jonas, I murder him and get out the George Foreman! What? He’s delicious and that overrides all other moral obligations I have not to be a fucking psychopath. Ugh, the best/WORST part of Smithfield celebrating the animals they’re murdering is that they’re inviting the public to e-tour the cages where they keep the pigs awaiting slaughter. Seriously! They obviously think it’s acceptable to keep pigs in enclosures that I wouldn’t inflict upon my worst enemy and I have some HATE, you know? Can you imagine if people kept their kids like that? Or their dogs? And both kids and dogs are stupider than pigs! This whole thing is very confusing. What’s more, the awful place they show in their video is obviously cleaned up, so that leaves it to your imagination (or you know, the countless documented horrors) to dream up what the majority of their “farms” look like. Shudder.
In more slit-your-wrists news, CNN covers the South Korean mass burials of live animals and it’s the fucking saddest. Spread the word! Shoot me in the face!
Okay, it’s not all terrible news. Today is a day for us to celebrate pigs by looking at how cute and special they are and talking about how much we love them. Which is a lot because OMG PIGS! Maybe we can all tell at least one omnivore some pig fun facts today and let them know that their bacon had a mom, and she was FUCKING AWESOME.
That’s Mohawk! He wants you to volunteer at Harvest Home Sanctuary, where you will love him and give him scratches and snacks and you guys will be bff.
Vegansaurus Midwest recommends Chicago VeganMania! »
Hello Chicago! And surrounding area! You guys are about to have a lot of fun! EarthSave Chicago is holding the second annual Chicago VeganMania this Saturday, Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and you’re all invited! Really! It’s at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse (1419 W. Blackhawk, between Division and North Avenue), it’s FREE, and that is all you really need to know, you guys: Saturday, VeganMania, Free.
OK, if you must know more, some details. You’ll get a bunch of chef demos, notably from Soul Vegetarian, the Chicago Diner, and Isa Chandra Moskowitz! You’ll get speakers, like Oakland’s own Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, and, oh, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, she is an unstoppable force! Also performers! See the schedule for particulars.
What about buying stuff? With free entry, you are basically obligated to make purchases inside—that is a tenet of capitalism!—so what will your options be? You can buy food from, yes, Soul Vegetarian, that’s exciting! Who else will be there? Chicago Soy Dairy, naturally, and Herbivore, and Supreme Master TV! Of course your own Vaute Couture, and a whole lot more.
According to organizer Marla Rose, you can also expect “appearances by the Vegan Cupcake Fairies.” That’s a positive thing, y/n? We are assuming yes, as Marla Rose uses the word “amazing” to describe them. Vegans with children, whether for the day or ever, don’t worry—once they get cranky and unmanageable, just dump them in the free “children’s play area” and let strangers deal with it! Brilliance.
You know, were we not spoiled by “sweater in the morning, jacket in the evening” weather most of the year, we’d move to your gorgeous city in a heartbeat, Chicago. The architecture knocks us out, the rent is sickeningly low, the theatre scene is amazing, and clearly you vegans are revered as precious creatures with your own “Mania” day. Unfortunately, your Vegansaurus is a big baby about things like S.A.D. and temperatures that actually kill people. We’ll just have to be long-distance friends.
Have fun at your Mania, Midwest vegans! Report back, with photos!
Vegansaurus NYC: Pilgrimage to MooShoes »
My friends! I’ve been to vegan fashion Mecca and I can now tell you with all certainty that Allah loves us! The proof is in all the beautiful vegan duds at MooShoes. OMG you KNOW Megan Rascal was dying, as I do love a nice vegan shoe. And the women working there were very nice! Even though I insinuated that their cat was fat within the first five minutes I was in the store. I’m all class! They have two cats actually who are both large and both adorbs, and apparently one will kill your dog.
What can I report? Matt & Nat are doing their thing with the wallets! Like, whoa. Novacas, olsenHaus (sorry, that’s how they write their name) and Neuaura all continue to hold it down with the hotness in the ladies’ shoe department. I bought a sweet pair of Novacas boots and I also picked up these dope Neuaura oxfords:
I know I’m currently unemployed but I have to go on INTERVIEWS, jerks! If I had to interview someone and they were wearing these shoes? I’d be like, “yes sir, I DO believe you’re a rocket scientist! Hired!” See? Easy. “Work experience” is out, dope kicks are in.
They also had shoes from Keep, some cute shirts by Herbivore and lots of stuff by Vegetarian Shoes. There were many plenty of sneakers for my homeboys in the crowd; I like a nice caramel-colored men’s dress shoe, but I didn’t see any. There were some sharp black ones though, and you guys could step up your game a little. JK! I love you! Take your shirts off! Send me pictures!
Disclaimer!: they totally gave me 10 percent off—maybe because I said I was writing about them; maybe because I’m awesome and people just love doing stuff for me all the time. Another possibility: I spent a shit-ton of money.
Bonus!: It’s around the corner from Babycakes! After I got my new interview shoes, I bounced over to Babycakes and got my interview cinnamon doughnut. No, it was just a regular cinnamon doughnut! Got ya! Oh, you.
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.