The doctors, midwives, strangers, my dear 80 year old grandmother, all raised their eyebrows and warned caution, ‘You’re vegetarian and pregnant!?’, ‘You’re vegetarian and breastfeeding!?’. ‘You’re going to feed your kid only vegetarian foods when they start eating solids?!’. I wasn’t expecting these responses from people in the year 2010, when I was pregnant with Margo. I thought, ‘Surely, people know by now that you can survive on a vegetarian diet quite well.’ And, what about the millions of poor people around the planet who are vegetarian by default, simply because consuming animal products is far to unsustainable and costly? What about the BILLION plus population of India? While not everyone in India is a vegetarian, many of them are! They seem to be ‘surviving’.
To make it short, I had no trouble getting all of my nutrients while pregnant. Iron was always a little low, but um, hello, what pregnant woman doesn’t have low iron!? Interestingly, with this pregnancy, at the end of my second trimester (usually when the iron levels drop to their lowest), my iron actually went up! Okay, it only went up by one point on the scale, but still, it went UP, not down! And, with this pregnancy I have been nearly vegan (avoiding most dairy). Actually, now some doctors are admitting that vegetarians are getting more iron than originally suspected because of eating healthy foods, like leafy greens and that eating meat does not guarantee that it will help your absorption of iron.
Breastfeeding was no issue either. Margo was only born at 7 1/2 pounds, very average. By 3 or 4 months, she was in the 97th percentile for weight and height! We’re talking Michelin baby here. She wasn’t even interested in solids until 8 or 9 months, and I never pushed them on her. Now that’s she’s two and a half, she has slimmed down a lot. She’s still a bit chubby, but down to the around 40th percentile for weight and height. She still gets the boob 1 to 3 times a day, although there’s not much in there at the moment other than some colostrum getting ready for the next babe (more on my experiences breastfeeding while pregnant in a future blog). And, since I’m nearly vegan, that means, everything Margo eats is mostly vegan.
I have been a vegetarian nearly my whole life, my husband too. My parents also raised me that way. I ate meat for a few years when I was a kid because I thought I wanted to try it out. A two year stint working at McDonald’s got back on the vegetarian track in no time. I know there a lot of parents out there who are raising their kids as vegetarians or are interested feeding their kids less meat. I sometimes tell Margo that she’s a vegetarian. Now, she is a really bright kid, but I know that doesn’t mean anything to her. She doesn’t know what meat is! Although, it may be a while before she understands what meat is and how it gets on to some people’s dinner table, I don’t think she’s missing anything 🙂 It will be interesting to see how she forms her opinions about being a vegetarian as she grows older. If one day she wants to try it out for herself, that’s fine by me, but it certainly won’t be cooked in our house!