I'm always getting a lot of emails asking if you can go plant-based while pregnant and/or can you be plant-based and pregnant. Both are a big fat YES! (For more information, see my post, "Plant-Based (Vegan) Pregnancy.")
But today you'll get to hear it straight from a beautiful, pregnant mama! Meet Margret!
HH: How did you come to a plant-based diet?Our transition to a plant-based diet began early this year in January when I watched Forks Over Knives for the very first time. I was enthralled by the message and could barely wait to have my family watch it. But as the film ended, a moment of uncertainty kicked in: Now that I know what I know — how exactly do I take these next steps? How do I convince my husband to walk away from everything we knew about eating “healthy”? We never imagined ourselves going meat or dairy-free — we never understood why we should. How do I convince my daughter (age 4), Miss Quesadilla Queen, who I have been feeding dairy products since the moment she could chew? And what does this mean for my pregnancy (I was in my first trimester)?
I truly had no clue how to go about this, but I knew without a doubt that this was the right thing for us.
HH: So, hubby? Did you get him on board?
I had no idea how to start the conversation, so I just said to him “please, you need to watch this” and he sat down and watched Forks Over Knives with me. Afterward, he looked at me and said, “Well, that’s it — we’re changing our diet.” I was so relieved!
HH: What about Miss Quesadilla Queen?
How were we going to approach this transition with the 4-year old? Basically, we sat down with her and explained that, “Mommy and daddy didn’t have all of the information that we do now, we are still learning, and want to make the best choices for our bodies.” She was receptive but still wanted that quesadilla when we ate out at restaurants. I could understand her confusion. Those choices were the only thing she knew and we were now changing that. At home she LOVED the plant-based food I would cook, but I guess because it was always “my way or the highway” in my kitchen AND having such great recipes to use (Happy Herbivore)!
We let her transition at her own pace and didn’t force it on her. I wanted it to be a lifelong, educated decision for her. She slowly went from mac n’ cheese kids' meals to awesome plant-based tacos or pasta when we eat out. The true test was when the restaurant accidentally put cheese in her burrito. She took a bite, saw it had cheese and spit it out immediately. She could have totally eaten it and we wouldn’t have known the difference. That’s when I knew that she was making her own choice!
HH: Have you noticed any changes in her? Other than her preferred food choices?
Prior to going plant-based, her weight stifled for nearly a year (between the age 3-4). Since going plant-based, she has GROWN! Like a sprout!
HH: You mentioned before you were in your first trimester when you watched the film, so you went plant-based pregnant?
Being in my first trimester of pregnancy and knowing this was the best thing for our family and myself, I still had a moment where the thought entered my brain, “Well, maybe I should wait until after I am pregnant.” That thought came from the fear that gets shoved around that you need meat and dairy for protein, that going without it cannot possibly be healthy for you, and especially not healthy for your pregnancy. As a mom, the very last thing you would ever do is put your family in harm's way. So yes, that thought came into my mind. But then I analyzed what was behind it further, and it just came back down to ignorance. I had lived without a great deal of information on dietary choices all of my life, partly because that information was omitted. If I was planning for my then-fetus to eat plant-based when he/she is a baby and so on, why would I feed it meat/dairy in utero? I realized that the thought made ZERO sense. So I continued to carry on…
HH: What did your doctor say?
My obstetrician was absolutely fine with the choice to go plant-based and has many-a-vegan client. As long as I was intaking sufficient calories (the right ones), he was completely cool. I did have an abundance of worry-warts to chime in throughout my pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, I love those worry-warts with all my heart, but they were misinformed and their concerns were based on perpetuated myths and fears. I’ve kind of been on all sides of the dietary aisle, and I’ve done my due diligence. But to appease the worry-warts, I would inquire about baby’s growth at each and every maternity appointment. Baby was just fine and everything was progressing normal.
HH: Did you notice anything different about this pregnancy? Was it a good pregnancy for you?
My pregnancy went absolutely smooth: I gained the appropriate weight and this time it was all baby! My first pregnancy I gained an extra 45 pounds (yes, I said extra!), so that was obviously all me! But I was never concerned about gaining weight this time around — it just happened to be a bit of a bonus. I actually anticipated gaining some weight, considering the massive cravings I had for desserts (HH’s Chocolate Chip Cookies!!!). My weight remained balanced, despite how well I was eating! I also slept like I’ve never slept before — TRUE sleep! I can say I’ve never known it until going plant-based.
My skin went from extremely dry and cracking to normal — you could even call it supple.
The stretch marks that were initially popping up, went away and were never heard from again. My gingivitis disappeared. The dark undereye circles disappeared. My grocery shopping was streamlined and my grocery bill was smaller (that’s HUGE for a busy mom)!
I participated in a 5K at 8 months pregnant!!!
HH: Shut the front door! WOW!!! You go mama! Speaking of which, give us the details on your bouncing baby girl:
In July, our little darling Darby was born. The labor and birth went with absolute ease. Zero complications! Everything felt so aligned, so right. They even had plant-based options in the hospital for our meals! The cafeteria had TONS of vegan options (great for hubby)!!!
Darby was born a normal weight and normal height. When she was checked for responsiveness and other “baby criteria” the infant nurse remarked how STRONG she was. She was calm and gripping, pushing, and pulling the nurse’s hand just hours after her birth!
Darby is also the happiest little baby I have ever met. Since she was born, her growth has skyrocketed! At 4 months old, she was wearing 9-month baby clothes. Tall and strong!
HH: Anything else you'd like to add?
I am glad that I went with my intuition and continued with the plant-based journey despite the fears being slung on me re: my pregnancy. I want to dispel any of those fears based on invalidated myths. You CAN be pregnant, healthy, and plant-based and raise beautiful, smart, healthy kids!
Being plant-based has been amazing for our family. I could list a thousand things that have changed for the better! Before I saw Forks Over Knives, my husband at the age of 37 had procedures that diagnosed him with precancerous stomach lining and polyps in his colon. Having thought we lived a “healthy” lifestyle, it just seemed so random that this was happening to him. I remember being pregnant and crying on the kitchen floor, feeling helpless that I would lose the love of my life to cancer. Now we know, like Dr. Esselstyn said, we don't have to have those kinds of losses. We have so much more power than we know!
Our family is not looking back!