Full-Time Mommy…Part-Time Vegan?

Life is filled with choices.  Some we make without a second thought, like what type of baby gift to give at a shower, while others are labored over to no end.  Regardless of how you arrive at your answer, it will be one that you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.  Moms make these kinds of decisions every day.  Often sacrificing and making choices for the good of the family and/or the children, moms everywhere know what it’s like to go without so their children can have, or to stay up night after night sewing a costume for her child’s performance at school even though she has to get up early and go to work herself.  Yes, moms often make good decisions that means they  “take one for the team.”

But what happens when your “good” decisions turn bad?

Such is the case for a mother in France.  She made the choice to live a vegan lifestyle.  Abstaining from all animal products, it was a healthy, moral choice she was glad to make.  Unfortunately, her baby didn’t get a chance to make a choice.  According to reports, little 11-month old Louisa died of malnutrition after only being given breast milk to sustain her.  The autopsy showed that baby Louise was suffering from a vitamin A and B12 deficiency, which made her more susceptible to infection. She weighed 12.5 pounds (the average 11-month-old should weigh around 17 pounds).  Nothing against breast milk–it’s nature’s healthy start for babies.  But at a time when babies are being introduced to solid foods at six months, it seems that this child needed more.  This needless death leads one to wonder if the mother was taking any vitamin supplements or eating regularly and properly.  Why did it take so long for the parents and even the physicians to discover that the baby was underweight?  If she could do it all over again, would she cling to her vegan ways or sacrifice them for the sake of her newborn?

Listen to your body

Natalie Portman finds herself in a similar situation…and offers a different solution.  Listen to your body.  Although a  vegan for the past two years, she now finds herself in the precarious situation of having to make a choice of whether to remain a vegan or temporarily take a hiatus while she’s pregnant.  While it doesn’t do much for her convictions, it may do a great deal for the baby growing inside of her.  If you believe that your body’s cravings are nature’s way to signal a deficiency in a particular area, then we all should listen to our bodies.  If  we’re craving cheese or milk, we may need calcium.  A taste for bananas may mean that we need potassium.  It’s all nature’s way to keep things moving harmoniously along from mother to child.  And isn’t providing those all-important nutrients to baby most important.  But, while listening to your body is good, you don’t have to stray from your vegan or vegetarian ways to ensure your baby is getting the nutrients he or she needs.

Here are a few tips:

  • Be sure to get enough protein. Most doctors recommend that protein account for 6 percent of the daily calories while pregnant and 7 percent during breastfeeding. Legumes, veggie meats, tofu, beans, nuts, and whole grain products all provide complete proteins.
  • Don’t forget the other necessary nutrients. Iron, vitamin C, calcium and essential fatty acids play an important role in keeping bodies strong and helping to absorb nutrients.  Consume plenty of leafy vegetables for iron, broccoli, juices and almonds for vitamin C, and legumes and avocados for fatty acids.
  • Multivitamins can make up the difference. Supplements containing minerals, calcium, B12 and folic acid are recommended for women whose diets don’t include dairy products.

As you can see, there are many ways to give your baby a healthy start without