one of the most common questions i've been asked is, "how has your vegan pregnancy been?". i was going to write about it much sooner, but to be honest i haven't had much to say. it's been easy!
i've just been eating the way i always have been. (if you're not sure what that looks like, check out my weekly dinner posts.) i'm happy to report that i never had any crazy cravings for meat or cheese and have been very happy and healthy the entire time. i was also able to easily (a little too easily, if you ask me..) pack on around 33 pounds. they suggest keeping it somewhere between 25-35 and despite my best efforts, i creeped up towards the upper limit. oh well.
i will say that as most women, i didn't feel great for the first three months. i'm thankful to have never actually gotten ill, but i came close to it several times. no food looked good to me, except for bland white foods like potatoes and rice. i remember standing in the produce section at whole foods (usually, this is my happy place) and eyeballing each vegetable, getting more and more nauseous as i went down the line. nothing looked good! but i tried to sneak in as many veggies as i could during the time and sure enough around 12 weeks it all went away. i was able to happily gorge myself on veggies the rest of the time.
a note on supplements: as i've mentioned before, i don't believe vegans need to take supplements of any kind, as long as you're mindful about your diet; however, pregnancy is one of those special times in your life where you need to take extra good care of yourself (vegan or not), so i took an organic whole foods prenatal vitamin and an algae omega dha. what's an algae omega dha you say? let me tell you! doctors recommend that while you're pregnant you take a dha omega 3 supplement to support healthy brain development. this usually comes in the form of a fish product, which of course i didn't want to take. upon further research, what's even a better source of dha is algae. yup, algae! made from microalgae it offers a plant-based source of beneficial marine omega 3s epa and dha without the use of fish. in fact, that's why fish are so high in dha omega 3s, because they eat algae. so, why not remove the middle man and go straight to the source?
i also had all the recommended bloodwork done along the way and my reports were always outstanding. i asked my doctor at the beginning if they should do a more thorough test for all of my nutrients, and she said confidently that vegans are usually completely healthy and get sufficient amounts of all the necessary nutrients. fortunately, that was the case with me. no need for added protein or anything else.
for the most part, i've also felt very energetic my entire pregnancy, and i attribute that to eating a clean diet. we also watch our gluten intake, which i believe has a lot to do with my energy (since when i do slip up, i'm sleepy and lethargic the next day). just try it. cut out all the gluten in your diet for 2 weeks and then eat a bunch of wheat bread and pasta for dinner one night. you won't believe what you feel like the next day (plan for lots of naps and minimal productivity).
i'd like to also mention how (pregnant or not) being vegan usually means having beautiful skin, hair and nails! vegans tend to eat a lot more healthy fats (think coconut oil, avocado and lots of nuts) which do wonders for your skin. vegans are also cutting out milk and cheese which can be a skin irritant and for some, a cause of acne. now, i will by no means claim that vegans won't get stretch marks, but i will say that somehow i didn't get any (and i thought for sure i would!). i have them all over my lower body from puberty so i figured i was just prone to them. my mom also got them when she pregnant with me, so i figured i was doomed. i'm not sure if my diet had anything to do with it at all, but i was eating a 'normal' american diet during puberty (got lots of stretch marks) and now that i'm vegan i didn't get a single one. i think it may just be connected. (disclaimer: i also used this oil, which i highly recommend!).
so that just about sums it up. eating a plant based diet makes me feel great!
photo by lindsay jean.