Happy Herbivore Blog

Herbie of the Week: Kathy (Plant-Based & Pregnant with Twins!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Kathy!

After Jesse shared her pregnancy experience as our Herbie of the Week, Kathy left a comment on Facebook about how she too was plant-based while pregnant. The only difference? She was pregnant with TWINS!

I immediately asked if she would be interested in sharing her plant-based pregnancy and I was so happy that she said yes!

Read on for Kathy's story!

My husband and I began trying to create our family in 2000. It took nine years, many invasive tests, several doctors in both Canada and the United States, and a mega-load of tenaciousness from us to achieve our dreams. In August of 2009, our twin miracles were born, happy and healthy. We were thrilled.

When I found out I was pregnant, happiness was superseded by a strong sense of anxiety over the health of the babies and whether or not they would thrive. I so desperately wanted a family and wanted to do anything and everything I could to bring these babies into the world. Naturally, my diet would be incredibly important.

I had been plant-based for just over 10 years when I found out I was pregnant and was confident that my diet was fairly balanced (but could use a little more work). I ordered some books on expecting multiples and began to read about the traditional dietary requirements for a healthy twin pregnancy. Honestly, I was overwhelmed by how much the authors recommended I consume and felt pressure to up my protein intake and *gasp* perhaps eat meat to achieve the appropriate levels. Very early on in my pregnancy, I made the mistake of ordering a chicken wrap at a local restaurant thinking I was doing the “right thing” for my babies. Boy, was I wrong. I took one bite and nearly lost it. I decided then and there that I wouldn’t compromise my healthy diet in the face of pressure from others.

I experienced nausea for the first 13 weeks or so and relied heavily on my cravings to get me through the worst of it. I gave myself permission to eat what my body wanted during the time I was most nauseous. Luckily, what my body wanted was veggie burgers. I ate a TON of them and wanted little else for those first few months. Blueberry bagels were also high on my list of go-tos when it came to satisfying hunger without compromising my fragile tummy.

Once I hit that glorious second trimester and my nausea and headaches were gone, a world of food opened up, once again. For the rest of my pregnancy I became a grazer and ate many small meals throughout a typical day. I was conscious to increase my caloric intake without negating my health in the process. Oatmeal, fresh fruit, raw veggies and dip, quinoa (in many different recipes), peanut butter, pasta, and so many delicious soups were all on my favourites lists. I never went hungry and my babies got everything they needed.

At my twelve week visit to my OB/GYN, he advised that I would gain 50 pounds with my pregnancy. I began my pregnancy weighing 147 pounds and on the day I delivered the twins, I weighed 198 pounds (a 51 pound gain). My doctor wasn’t at all concerned with my diet. He asked, in the beginning, if I felt it was balanced and was content with knowing that it was. Also, at each check up, the numbers and ultrasounds spoke for themselves. All results from every test I was given (from the blood-glucose test, to the nuchal fold test, to blood pressure tests, to urine tests) were always normal. My doctor, a widely known and respected infertility specialist, commented, on several occasions, that I was “textbook” for how a multiple pregnancy should be.

When I was 37 weeks and 1 day along, my water broke. The very next day, I delivered my twins and finally had the family of my dreams. Griffin was born at 7:35am weighing in at 6lbs and Kaia was born at 8:12am weighing 6lbs and 8oz. I did not need a c-section and was thrilled that my body could recover quickly.

If I could give anyone contemplating a plant-based pregnancy advice, I would tell her to trust herself. Many doctors aren’t well read on the topic of plant-based diets and may try to scare you into believing that a plant-based diet will not provide all the nutrients you require. Furthermore, they may insinuate that a plant-based diet will compromise your health and that of your unborn child. Neither is true. Listen to your body, enjoy whole, plant-based foods, and allow yourself to provide the first life-lesson to your children in plant-based wisdom.

Kaia and Griffin are plant-based to this day and are happy, smart, healthy, and vibrant kids. I hope that they will always choose to be plant-based and I know that I have set up their bodies for a lifetime of health.

Thank you so much Kathy for sharing with us!

Plant-Based (Vegan) on a Cruise (Guest post by Stephanie!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: TravelGuest

It's summer, which means many herbies will be packing their bags and hitting the road, sky, or sea (for travel tips and help, there's a huge (HUGE!) section in The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living).

Cruises are always a popular vacation choice, especially this time of year. Scott and I actually went on a cruise back in 2007. I made sure to contact the cruise ahead of our trip to tell them about our dietary restrictions and they said they would be happy to accommodate us.

While they DID have a vegetarian menu each night at dinner, we didn't do dairy, so it didn't really work. We were able to talk to the chef on our first night and he was able to come up with something (stuffed bell peppers with veggies and rice and sorbet for dessert). We ultimately found it more enjoyable to make use of the salad bar or the pizza station, which made pizzas on demand without cheese. They also permitted us to bring soy milk on board and there was a lot of fruit as well.

Seeing as my last cruise experience was nearly a decade ago (and dining options and accommodations have probably changed since then), I was very excited to come in contact with Stephanie, a herbie AND a travel agent who knows a thing or two about cruise ships.

I'll let Stephanie steer the ship from here ;)

My husband and I travel quite a bit because of my career as a travel agent, and because of that, we go on quite a bit of mainstream vacations such as visiting all-inclusives and sailing on cruise ships. We particularly enjoy cruises, and I have learned a few tips and tricks for those on board who only partake in plant-based eating like myself.

If you have a cruise vacation planned, hopefully I can bestow some of my knowledge upon you and give you some peace of mind pre-vacation. If you do not have a cruise vacation planned, or have been hesitant to cruise, perhaps my tips will make you more confident about possible future travel plans.

- Each cruise line and ship is very different in terms of accommodations, entertainment, itineraries, rates, and general atmosphere. Furthermore, on-board dining experiences can drastically differ from ship to ship and line to line. There are no industry standards when it comes to venue options, buffet and dining room offerings, and willingness to assist you with specialized meal preparations, but each line and its crew should do their best to help you…just some might do a better job of it than others. Do some research or work with a travel agent to find the best cruise fit for you and your traveling companions.

- Most cruise lines have a special needs department that will also work with dietary requests if they are submitted (generally) 45 or more days prior to departure. I recommend submitting your request and having your travel agent add it to your reservation, but most cruise lines will tell you that speaking to the head waiters in the main dining room once onboard is really the most important step for passengers with special dietary requirements (which for now, still includes us!)

- You really need to work with your head waiter in the main dining room to have special meals prepared for you at dinner time, even if it means simply adjusting the next evening’s vegetarian offerings to be vegan-friendly – this is really the key to having great plant-based meals on board. The chefs are creating thousands of meals for thousands of people each day, so they really need advanced notice and additional time for special food preparations.

- Get to know your head waiter, and be friendly! People are likely to be nicer and more helpful to, well, nice people! Work with him throughout the duration of your cruise to ensure that you are enjoying delicious plant-based/vegan food on a nightly basis.

- Cruise ships generally offer three dining options for passengers: traditional early seating (usually around 6:00pm) traditional late seating (usually around 8:30pm) and a version of flexible dining. For traditional seating, you will select the size of your table upon making your reservation and then sit with the same passengers and be served by the same crew members each night. For flexible dining, you can head to the main dining room when you would like to eat and wait for a table, not unlike going out to a local restaurant on a Friday evening. Generally wait times are short, if at all, but reservations can also be made within this option as well. Eating as a vegan on a cruise ship is much easier when you work with the same head waiter each night, so I recommend selecting a traditional seating option or asking to sit in the same head waiter’s section each night if you have selected the flexible option.

- Generally, soy milk is available on ships if you ask for it. I wouldn’t count on almond milk, or other non-dairy options.

- Each line differs in their policies regarding food and drink items you are permitted to bring on board; usually, pre-packaged and sealed dry items like snack foods are fine. Beverages are a little trickier, so have your travel agent consult with your specific cruise line to learn what is permissible. Some lines will allow you to bring pre-packaged and sealed beverages onboard if they are required for special dietary needs (like the mini almond milk boxes you can purchase at the grocery store), but for items like this you really must check with each cruise line. Please note that cruise ships will not store or prepare special foods and drinks brought on board by passengers, but many have cabins with small coolers for keeping things chilled.

- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The menus in the dining rooms are usually clearly labeled for dairy, nuts, gluten, meat, etc., but the description cards in the buffet often are not. Assume that vegetables are prepared with butter, but find a crew member and you will most likely score a plain serving made-to-order just for you.

- When in doubt, head for the fresh fruit buffet and salad bar. You will always find many options for produce in the buffets (breakfast/lunch/dinner).

Stephanie Nye is an Earth-loving, animal-loving, plant-loving, life-loving travel agent located in Cleveland, Ohio.

LEGAL DISCLOSURE: Even though Stephanie receives discounts as a travel agent, she did not receive any discounts or a free trip from Royal Caribbean in exchange for this blog post.

Have you been on a cruise while plant-based or vegan? Share your experiences (both good and bad) in the comments below!

Asian Tofu Salad Sandwiches, Sweet & Sour Cauliflower, Creamy Garlic Pasta & More!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: MealPlan

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