Alicia Silverstone releases new book all about being preggers the vegan way!  »


I don’t think I’ll ever choose to get pregnant, but I know lots of people do! And we get a lot of questions about vegan pregnancy around here but alas, I don’t know jack about it. Luckily, Alicia does! Silverstone has just released this handy book, The Kind Mama, that goes from getting preggers to breastfeeding, all while staying vegan: 

In The Kind Mama,Alicia Silverstone has created a comprehensive and practical guide empowering women to take charge of their fertility, pregnancy, and first 6 months with baby. Drawing on her own experience, as well as that of obstetricians, midwives, nutritionists, holistic health counselors, and others, Silverstone offers advice on getting one’s “baby house” in order through nutrient-rocking foods that heal and nourish, and, once pregnant, gentle ways to boost comfort, energy, and health during each trimester. She helps readers navigate everything from prenatal testing and birth plans to successful breastfeeding and creating a supportive “baby nest.” 

Well! Sounds like the new vegan pregnancy bible!

So, do we have any soon-to-be parents in the crowd? I’m really curious, what have been the biggest struggles with regards to being vegan? I’d love to hear about everyone’s experiences. I know when people aren’t even vegan, EVERYBODY has something to say about what they should be doing when they get pregnant and have a baby. I imagine it might get even more cray when you’re vegan on top of that. Am I right?

Find links to buy the book here


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!


Vegan Pregnancy: Let’s talk about fiber!  »

One of the biggest head trips about pregnancy is the fact that all of a sudden, your body is largely out of your control. I’m used to a state of affairs where I know the cause-effect relationship behind the changes in my physique. Looking fine in them jeans? Why yes, I have been working out! Sporting a new muffin top? Damn you, delicious Oreos!

But once you’re up the duff, things will happen to your body—sometimes overnight—and you will not really understand why. You will also not necessarily be warned about them. I knew that my stomach would get bigger, of course. I expected my boobs to do the same, though not quite as remarkably or quickly as they did. (Ow.) But were you aware that when you’re pregnant, your nipples get darker? I was not! It’s nice to be warned about these things!

There are actually biological reasons for these changes, though—those darker, saucer-sized nipples help your blurry-eyed newborn easily find them to nurse, for example. That’s a good trick, evolution! Here’s another: When you’re pregnant your digestion slows down, giving your body more time to get nutrients from your food to your fetus. Pretty cool. However, this change comes with an unfortunate side effect: constipation.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m vegan, I couldn’t possibly get constipated! I eat all the legumes! And that may be true, but I know you nodded when I mentioned Oreos. The thing is, even if you’re pretty good about your fiber intake, normal rules no longer apply. Your baby wants to steal all your vitamins and minerals, and your digestive tract is complying, so you’ve got to bring out the big guns or else risk getting hemorrhoids. Apparently that’s a common feature of pregnancy too!

I don’t want hemorrhoids. I have gone my entire adult life (thus far) without them, and I hope to continue that streak. And I know you don’t want them either. That’s why we’re going to talk about all the roughage you need to get into your body in between bouts of nausea and all that napping.

There are actually two kinds of dietary fiber that you need to pay attention to: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber binds with fatty acids and slows down the time it takes for food to exit your stomach and get into your intestines, which in turn means that sugars are released and absorbed more slowly. This kind of fiber helps to lower your total cholesterol and your LDL cholesterol, which is the kind you particularly don’t want to have. It also helps to keep your blood sugar regulated, which is important if you are diabetic, or have gestational diabetes. Oats, dried peas and beans, nuts, barley, flax seed, fruits, and vegetables all provide soluble fiber.

The other kind of fiber, insoluble, helps to keep the bulk of food waste moving along through your intestines, preventing constipation and keeping your guts at a healthy pH level. This keeps you pooping on the regular, which means you’re getting waste out of your body efficiently, and is tied to colon cancer prevention. You get this kind of fiber when you eat vegetables like green beans and leafy greens, fruit and root vegetable skins, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.

The average ratio of fiber is 75 percent insoluble to 25 percent soluble, but don’t get hung up on that; lots of foods provide both types. Just focus on eating lots of high-fiber foods in general, and the ratio will likely even out.

How much is “lots,” exactly? The American Pregnancy Association recommends getting 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily when you’re pregnant. It’s also important to drink lots of fluids. You need a good amount when you’re pregnant anyway, and the liquid helps keep things chugging through your digestive tract. Exercise can also literally help keep things moving, along with just being good for you in general. Talk with your medical pro about what’s right for you when you’re knocked up.

As an added bonus, a lot of the foods that are high in fiber—particularly legumes and whole grains—are also good sources of iron and zinc, important minerals for baby-growing. And because iron supplements can be constipating, it’s great to get as much iron from food sources as you can. Finally, getting enough fiber could also help prevent preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous vascular condition that can affect pregnant women. Now go eat some roughage!

Terri Coles lives in Toronto, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues. We edit out all her extra vowels.

[photo by Jessica via Flickr]


"But how do you get your protein—FOR THE BABY?!" Vegansaurus gets pregnant!  »

When you’re pregnant, everyone has advice for you. They know which doctor or midwife you should use and which hospital you should deliver at, or if you should have the baby at home instead. They know how much weight you should gain and where you should do prenatal yoga—you are doing prenatal yoga, right? And they definitely know what you should eat.

If you’re vegan, this can go to a whole other level.

Emily Deschanel is vegan, and she stayed vegan during her recent pregnancy. Last fall, she was on the cover of FitPregnancy, and in the interview she talked about her veganism. According to Salon and other publications, staying vegan was “controversial,” and Deschanel knew it, saying “As a pregnant woman especially, people will say to me, ‘You must eat meat and dairy.’ You really have to tap into your self-esteem whenever people try to convince you you’re making the wrong choice.”

She’s not alone—a few months earlier, Glamour published a short piece called “Health Controversy: ‘I’m Vegan, and Pregnant’” featuring Crazy Sexy Life contributor Corinne Bowen.

Personally, I’ve found that the best defense in this situation is a good offense. If you’re informed about your nutritional needs during pregnancy, it’s easier to defuse people’s criticisms—or, less cynically, to address the concerns of your partner, family, and friends.

To that end, I’ll be posting about being pregnant and vegan here at Vegansaurus — I’ve got lots to learn myself, and I hope that I can pass along some of that info along the way. In all situations, I like to arm myself with information (side effect of being a journalist, I guess). Here are some of my starting places—and I’d love to hear your suggestions for future posts in the comments!

Terri Coles lives in Toronto, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues. We edit out all her extra vowels.

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