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Allison wrote, “I am a vegetarian. I originally went strict vegan after reading Skinny Bitch in 2008. I was vegan for about a year and a half, and while I felt amazing when I was doing it, I eventually transitioned into a vegetarian and have been one ever since. Since you have been a vegetarian for so many years now, I was curious if you had ever done a blog post about how things have changed since you became one… Any obstacles you’ve faced, and also if it affected your pregnancy at all, or if anyone (family members or friends) gave you any crap about the fact that you didn’t eat meat while pregnant. I am just curious because my husband and I are going to start trying for our first in a few months and I KNOW this will be an issue for my family as well as his.”

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I went veg about three and a half years ago, and the Husband transitioned to vegetarianism shortly thereafter.  Although he isn’t strict about it, he also chooses to avoid dairy more often than not (but does eat eggs).  I don’t eat dairy right now but not by choice – it’s because Henry has shown signs of being sensitive to it via my breastmilk. 

 

Vegetarianism is not a ‘weird’ thing in my family.  MomHTP eats a mostly vegetarian diet, as do my in-laws.  So, fortunately, I did not have to deal with family members judging my choice to not eat meat while pregnant (which, by the way, is widely recognized by the medical community as a perfectly healthy option, although it does come with challenges). 

 

I encountered two issues relating to vegetarianism while pregnant.  First, the Bradley Method of natural childbirth focuses on encouraging mothers-to-be to eat a lot of protein.  The reasoning behind this is that eating more than 70 grams of protein a day (that’s the *magic number* my instructor gave our class) helps strengthen the bag of waters and prevent premature rupture.  Side note: I have tried to find a study to link to online but cannot – sorry.  It’s hard to eat 70 grams of protein a day as a vegetarian, period, but it’s especially hard if you’re trying not to overdo it on soy.  That’s because soy can mimic estrogen in the body.  According to MayoClinic.com:

 

In one human study, male infants born to women who ingested soymilk or soy products during pregnancy experienced more frequent hypospadias (a birth defect in which the urethral meatus, the opening from which urine passes, is abnormally positioned on the underside of the penis). However, other human and animal studies have examined males or females fed soy formula as infants, and have not found abnormalities in infant growth, head circumference, height, weight, occurrence of puberty, menstruation, or reproductive ability.

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Since I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl, I was a bit concerned about overdoing it on soy and balancing my soy intake with my protein needs.  I ended up eating a LOT of eggs.  I am proud of the way that I ate during pregnancy and my bags of water lasted until the day before my due date, popping five hours after an acupuncture session to induce labor (my husband has mad acupuncture skills, what can I say?).

 

The other issue that I encountered while pregnant was that I had low iron levels.  You have tons of extra blood in your body during pregnancy (up to 50% more!), so it’s really difficult for many pregnant women, vegetarian or not, to stay on top of their iron needs.  However, this is an especially common problem for vegetarian mommas-to-be because plant-based iron is not as readily bioavailable as animal-based iron.  In the end, my low iron levels were not a big deal – I just took a supplement (as many women have to, whether veg or not). 

 

So, I would say that being a pregnant vegetarian was, in many ways, no different from being a non-vegetarian.  I had to pay attention to what I ate and be thoughtful in my choices.  As some people may have to be very aware about eating enough veggies, I just paid more attention to protein and iron.

 

Regarding whether we’ll raise Henry as a vegetarian, I once wrote a post on this very topic:  Will We Or Won’t We? Raising Vegetarian Kids. Our stance is that we won’t freak out if Henry chooses to try meat at a friend’s house when he’s older – we’re afraid that being strict about forcing our food choices will push him away.  However, that being said, I really don’t want to feel pressured to ‘introduce’ meat to him at our house or his extended family’s houses, especially when he is very young.  I hope our non-vegetarian family and friends will respect our choice, won’t tease Henry for being part of a vegetarian family, and will offer Henry healthy vegetarian options.  It really would hurt my feelings if someone who was close to us tried to ‘trick’ Henry into eating meat or used meat to challenge our parental authority in a round-about way.  Being vegetarian is important to the Husband and me for a variety of reasons.

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To sum up my response to Allison’s question… Although family members didn’t harp on me for food choices, I certainly had well-meaning relatives or friends reach out with other concerns (especially regarding drug-free birth).  I think it’s important to draw a distinction between ‘being helpful’ and ‘stomping boundaries.’  Being well-meaning or curious is, of course, totally fine.  Perhaps Allison’s family members really don’t understand that you can be a healthy vegetarian momma, as long as you are thoughtful in the way you eat (kind of like everyone else!).  However, in general, I think a very healthy response to any type of boundary stomping is the phrase: “Thank you for your concern, but I’ve got this covered.”  Repeat ad nauseum. 

 

I’d love for other parents to weigh in – vegetarian or not!  Did you have anyone get on your case about how you ate during pregnancy or how you raised your children to eat?  Details, please!

{ 57 comments }

 

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  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) October 11, 2012, 9:00 pm

    I get more grief because I don’t eat meat (and can’t have dairy or soy) just in general. My sons and husband are meat eaters and they support my decision to not eat meat. I really don’t think it’s anyone’s business how we choose to fuel our bodies as long as we are educated about it and are getting everything we need for a balanced diet. I actually make sure that I get almost 100 grams of protein a day, but since I’m a personal trainer, I need all I can get for muscle recovery.

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    • Caitlin October 11, 2012, 9:51 pm

      damn sarena! balling out.

      Reply
  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More October 11, 2012, 9:23 pm

    I can’t speak from a parent’s perspective but I can speak as the teenager who went vegetarian and my parent’s reaction to it (maybe a whole other post topic…) BUT I definitely got push back as I was seen as being in a “phase” and therefore had to work around what my parents were making for dinner (this often meant picking the bits of meat out of chili or casseroles). I’ve now been a vegetarian for over 10 years and my parents have realized, understood and accepted it’s not a phase. And while they’re meat eating and loving people, they’re more open to try meat free meals or replacements. We made tacos the other night and I made a separate vegan filling and they both tried it and liked it!

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  • Eliza October 11, 2012, 9:30 pm

    I am not a vegetarian. I eat only locally produced, organic meat. I live in a rural state, where there are a lot of small scale farmers. I am very happy to live in a place, and to have the financial ability, to access such high quality meat. We follow the same guidelines for our dairy products. Both our parents raise chickens, so that is where our eggs come from.
    I grew up in a family with farming/hunting as part of our culture, so the important thing to me is that the food I eat is healthy and produced in a socially conscious manner.
    We plan on raising cows for beef, as well as chickens for meat and chickens for eggs, hopefully within the next 5 years. I want my children to understand where food comes from, and have a strong relationship with food- beginning in the production and ending in the enjoyment of it. I feel fortunate to have always enjoyed food, and not suffered from the distorted eating behaviors/thoughts that I know many women struggle with. I hope to raise children who appreciate food for its nourishment and for the pleasure it brings. To not view food as “good” or “bad.” For me, this appreciation has always included food that is “close to the ground” – food that I am familiar with, that is grown by my neighbors, that supports the community I am a part of.
    I realize this is off-topic from vegetarianism, but I was thinking about the food philosophy that my husband and I share, and hope to share with our children.

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    • Caitlin October 11, 2012, 9:51 pm

      i like your food philosophy. it is admirable.

      Reply
  • Laura October 11, 2012, 9:30 pm

    Did you ever crave meat during your pregnancy? I’ve heard pregnant women crave it and I wondered if your body wanted it even though you don’t eat it.

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    • Caitlin October 11, 2012, 9:50 pm

      not really. occasionally i really crave scallops. if i ever broke my vegetarianism i would definitely eat scallops. or lobster.

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      • Presley @ Run Pretty October 12, 2012, 6:26 am

        Scallops are the reason I can’t be fully vegetarian. Really. It’s bad. haha I had scallops in coconut butter on vacation recently. WHOA. But since I only eat seafood, I eat vegetarian meals 9 times out of 10. And quite honestly, I did a terrible job at tracking my protein while pregnant. I was so sick and so tired. I should have done a better job. I ended up having a huge, healthy baby boy so it worked out. But I thought my husband was going to have a panic attack every single day during my pregnancy. I feel bad for scaring him!

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        • Whitney October 12, 2012, 8:40 am

          I have a running friend who was a vegetarian for 10 years and when she got pregnant she started craving bacon and hasn’t been a vegetarian since. Her daughter now who is 6 years old asks for bacon all of the time! So wild!

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  • Liz October 11, 2012, 9:53 pm

    I’m a vegan with 2 daughters, ages 2 and 3. My husband is mostly vegan as well. We get comments that it would be unfair to the children to feed them a vegan diet. It is extremely frustrating because my husband and I know how well we feed ourselves.

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    • caitie October 11, 2012, 11:42 pm

      Unfair is ridiculous, I’d be so annoyed if I was you. I am a nanny (the family is not vegetarian and I am, but I don’t have a problem preparing meat for them) and the kids ask me why I dont eat meat. It’s not my place to tell them my reasons (I simply dont want to eat animals, and dont agree with the way so much meat is processed) but I think its unfair that they are eating meat without knowing that is actually an animal they are eating. They know it is called chicken and what not, but when do they actually understand what it is?!

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    • Lauren October 12, 2012, 9:14 am

      That’s so awesome that you’re a vegan family! I hope very much to have the same in the future. Sometimes my boyfriend and I make comments about it. It drives me crazy right now when my pregnant friend tells me that she “needs to eat dairy because it’s good for the baby”. Haha.

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  • Brittnie October 11, 2012, 11:06 pm

    You said “since I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl, I was a bit concerned about overdoing it on soy and balancing my soy intake with my protein needs.” Can you explain the connection between soy intake/limitation and baby being boy or girl? Just curious!

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    • Caitlin October 12, 2012, 6:35 am

      See the quote above that statement.

      Reply
  • Christine @ BookishlyB October 11, 2012, 11:18 pm

    70 grams of protein! Whoa. As a new vegetarian I’m really struggling to include enough protein in my diet (I don’t really do any soy at all). One day last week I calculated my intake to be around grams- the idea of doubling it when I finally conceive is daunting!

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    • caitie October 16, 2012, 3:02 pm

      Hey Christine, if youre concerned about getting enough protein, try to track what you eat. I have my fitnesspal on my phone and i think youll find that youre getting more than it may seem! everything adds up eventually. I am vego also and rarely do i find that i am low on protein (although i do get maybe 8-10 grams most days from a bar, smoothie, etc. where protein is added)

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  • Jen October 11, 2012, 11:27 pm

    Henry definitely looks like you there!!

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  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action October 11, 2012, 11:29 pm

    First off can I say how much Henry has changed from the picture you posted in this post versus your lunch post! It’s crazy how big he is!

    I find this discussion so interesting- I use to be vegetarian but got really sick because I wasn’t replacing any protein and instead just wasn’t eating it (I was 18 at the time) so now I eat fish and chicken. My boyfriend eats all meat and we’ve talked about what we would do if we had kids- which would be to let them decide what they wanted and until then give them whatever we’re eating at the time.

    I think other people should butt out if they’re giving anyone grief about their choices- let’s go check their kitchen and see if it’s perfect!

    Reply
  • Carrie October 12, 2012, 12:26 am

    I was vegan throughout nearly all of my pregnancy and was surprised how supportive my friends and family were, as well as my doctor. My family was really come around. It can be a challenge though… When people are clearly meaning well, yet are uninformed.

    One way I think veganism actually helped me while pregnant was that I ate a much healthier diet than I would have including dairy. I had cravings for sweets and not such healthy foods, but they simply weren’t readily available. If I really wanted something indulgent I would seek it out or make it. I gained a healthy amount still- 34 lbs- but probably would have lost all control otherwise. :)

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  • CJ @ Fill the Well October 12, 2012, 12:28 am

    Very useful info! I agree that a lot of misconceptions about raising veggie kids (or vegetarianism in general, for that matter!) come from a place of confusion or incomplete information about vegetarianism. I think it’s so important to give thoughtful, non-judgmental explanations (such as yours!) when people question your dietary choices, rather than immediately launching into defensive mode. Every conversation like this is an opportunity to learn where the other person is coming from.

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  • Rebecca October 12, 2012, 1:26 am

    Not a veg thing, but more a nutrition-in-general thing: I know someone who majored in Nutrition or something (I don’t know what the major is actually called but it deal with diet and nutrition and stuff) and they almost never let their kids eat sweets. They have a giant garden, can things, etc. I highly doubt that much of anything in their house has artificial stuff in it. The kids almost go overboard at weddings/other events when they get to eat cake and stuff. They’re also incredibly polite (almost to a fault–we lovingly call their house Boot Camp) and I recently found out that it took someone telling them the kids could be thought of as weird (even shunned) by their peers for politely declining *every treat offered to them* for them to ease up on the rules. Not exactly the same thing, but your philosophy somehow reminded me of it anyway.

    I don’t eat much meat right now, especially when I’m at school. I buy my own groceries and don’t purchase meat just because I never feel like it/don’t want to spend the money. (…I buy snacks and easy, not-always-healthy lunches instead. Oops.) Right now I really only eat meat consistently when I’m at home, and I honestly get really excited when I hear that my dad is going to grill (chicken or burgers or whatever–salmon is my favorite one to hear) because I miss meat…

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  • Sarah October 12, 2012, 5:15 am

    So far, in my pregnancy, I haven’t had any comments about eating a vegetarian diet. But I think that’s partly because of my approach to vegetarianism. I don’t believe that killing animals for food is wrong per se. Rather I’m vegetarian because we abuse animals massively in the process and treat them as a commodity rather than a blessing. Thus, I prefer to not participate in such a horrible industry by not eating meat, and only eating carefully sourced and organic dairy. That said, if I have really strong cravings or my iron levels get too low during pregnancy I will consider eating meat as long as I know where it comes from and that it’s been treated humanely. Also, if someone is generous enough to cook for me and it happens to be meat, I will also eat it. I guess that may be why I haven’t had any issues from others yet. Sorry, it sounds like a bit of a bizarre approach to vegetarianism. I was vegan for a while but I just couldn’t sustain it. Also, I’m not sure about how much we can change the meat industry by bowing out. I think we can make more powerful and positive changes by only buying carefully selected, organic, humanely treated animals and dairy and help the farmers to be able to afford these methods of farming rather than by not eating meat. Sorry, that’s a long winded comment and probably a controversial one. Sorry, I hope it doesn’t cause offence. It’s just my take on things. Oh, as an aside, my husband is not vegetarian and he knows that I’ll only make vegetarian food for our children. If he wants meat he has it when we eat out or get take away rather than at home. It works for us so far :)

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    • Sarah October 12, 2012, 5:16 am

      PS what I have had a lot of people comment on whilst being pregnant is the size of my bum and how I’m carrying my baby all around my middle and hips. I wasn’t expecting this, and their words do hurt, but for some reason women feel like they can make any comments that they want to a woman about her body when she’s pregnant!

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      • Jen @ Little-Crumbs October 12, 2012, 7:16 am

        Sorry your getting comments like this. I too receive comments often in how I was carrying or how big my baby belly was or asking if I was having twins. If you want to stop some of these comments maybe simply respond with ‘That’s not very nice.’ people just don’t think when they talk to pregnant women- complete strangers often commented on my baby bump.

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        • Sarah October 12, 2012, 10:01 am

          Thanks Jen, glad it’s not just me but sorry you’re getting them too. I don’t know if I have the courage to say anything but maybe as time goes on I will.x

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      • Jenny October 12, 2012, 11:12 am

        I had a lot of people comment on how small I was carrying. I am a small person, but I hated these comments because my baby actually was small. She had Unidentified Growth Retardation (pretty sure that was what it was called) Anyway, I just think you should never comment on a pregnant women’s shape. Just tell her she looks great!!

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  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut October 12, 2012, 6:34 am

    I think you have a good approach. I always wonder how I will raise my kids in regards to food. I really want them to be healthy, yet balanced. Ideally, my (future) children would mostly snack on fruits and veggies and have pizza and ice cream as treats, but like you said, if they get their paws on gold fish or chips at a friend’s house, I won’t freak out. I’ve seen a lot of NYC moms be crazy-strict about their children’s diet, and while I think it is REALLY important, I also worry that an anal approach will only cause problems later!

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  • Shannon October 12, 2012, 7:04 am

    My husband and I eat a 95% veg. diet (occasional fish, turkey, and chicken; we are veg. primarily for health reasons so are not evangelistic about occasionally eating these foods), as do our daughters (ages 6 and 8), and it’s never been even remotely an issue. Not during pregnancy, not when they were babies/toddlers, and not now. We rarely eat out and I cook 90%+ of our meals from scratch, so we all eat mostly plant-based proteins (beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy). This is how I cook when relatives come to visit, also. When we’re at others’ houses, we generally eat what is offered, which is not a big deal since most of our friends/families avoid red meat/pork for health reasons as well. If they do serve meat, it is typically chicken or fish; and many times there is a veg. option as well. Also, if my kids want the meat option (for example, we’re having pizza and there is both pepperoni and vegetable), I have no problem with them doing so. But at home we rarely eat it.

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  • Jessica October 12, 2012, 7:08 am

    A little off topic but my 18 month old son has adopted a vegetarian lifestyle just by preference. My husband and I aren’t huge meat eaters but we definitely have it probably 2-3 times a week and the little one is definitely not interested no matter how many times we try. He gets plenty of protein via dairy sources, eggs and sunflower seed butter (no true nuts allowed yet!) so I am not concerned about his protein intake. My family finds it odd that his preferences led him that way but no one is questioning its role in his health.

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    • Angela October 12, 2012, 1:54 pm

      Hi Jessica, I think that’s normal. I have a 7 year old brother who won’t eat meat, but will eat fish on occasion. He would eat fruit and veggies anytime of the day. During dinners he always ops out on meat and piles up on veggies and fruit. Our family always ate meat, but for some reason he is the only one who doesn’t like the taste of meat.

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  • Jen @ Little-Crumbs October 12, 2012, 7:10 am

    While I didn’t struggle much with family comments on what I ate while pregnant, I do get lots of comments on feeding my baby. He’s two months old and I’m breastfeeding and pumping for bottles. I have quite a few people tell me how I’ll need to move him to formula when I go back to work next week or how I should add baby cereal into his diet. I don’t bother arguing usually just nod and then go about with my plan to breastfeeding as long as my body allows and/or until he self weans. Is breastfeeding/pumping easy? No, but as long as I can do it I will because the benefits outweigh the inconvenience/discomfort for me.

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  • Tara October 12, 2012, 7:13 am

    I’m not a vegetarian, but we do try to eat mostly organic/whole/minimally processed food. Most people in our family don’t care, but I have had some family members make comments like “He’ll have to come to my house to eat the fun stuff!” We do eat our fair share of treats, so our son certainly isn’t being denied all fun foods. It’s just we choose to avoid candy, soda, and other unhealthy foods as much as we can. My MIL was upset we chose not to give him juice (he finally had OJ for the first time at 2 years old), but he eats tons of fresh fruit and I’d rather that than juice. On the other side, our daycare provider can’t stop telling us how he’s the best eater in her house. He loves all the whole grains, beans, and veggies she gives the kids, while she has to fight the rest of the kids to try them. That makes me happy that he enjoys his healthy foods! : )

    I got way more negative comments during pregnancy about wanting a natural childbirth, than my eating habits. For some reason a lot of women I knew thought it was crazy/stupid/naive of me to want a natural childbirth. It was really hard for me, because it wasn’t impacting them in any way so why should they care? I never bashed epidurals or the women who have them (and I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to do natural), so I was hurt that people thought it was okay to be so negative about wanting to go natural.

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  • Kelli October 12, 2012, 7:59 am

    I am almost 6 months pregnant with my first child and have lived pretty strictly vegetarian since May 2011. I never craved meat when I was not pregnant, ever. Once I started eating a vegetarian diet I never looked back and I loved the way it made me feel. However, about a month ago I was having intense cravings for ground beef and other meats. Despite my efforts to increase my protein via plant based sources, my cravings were always there. I took it as a sign that maybe the baby needed me to get some extra iron and meat based protein. So I put my beliefs aside and had pasta with meat sauce last weekend after searching for the best meat I could (grass fed, humanely killed, NOT factory based, etc). I felt instantly better and have not craved meat since!!

    I love your philosophy on raising Henry vegetarian but letting him explore his own options. I am so excited to make my own baby food and give my baby girl the best nutrients I can. I also love reading about Henry!! I found out I was pregnant around the time you gave birth, so I re-read all of your weekly posts and they have been SO helpful!! Thank you for your continued honesty about motherhood and your willingness to share everything with us :)

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  • Molly @ RDexposed October 12, 2012, 8:36 am

    You know, I bet you did get in 70 gm of protein daily with no trouble. If you think about it, that’s only 280 calories coming from protein. Two eggs with breakfast would quickly give you 20% of those needs.

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  • Sara October 12, 2012, 8:39 am

    I haven’t eaten red meat in about 10-12 years. I haven’t eaten fish for a longer period of time. I went full-on vegetarian for a couple of years, but I felt like I was eating SO MANY carbs and it just wasn’t agreeing with my body. So one day I decided to introduce poultry back in my diet and I felt a lot better. I still tend to sway more towards a Vegetarian meal, but I am mindful of protein since I’m newly pregnant. I’m not a huge meat fan but I do eat it because it’s lean protein. I figure everyone just has to do what it best for them and for their bodies. When I was a Vegetarian, my husband had concerns about me not eating meat while pregnant or how we’d raise our children (since he eats meat. All meats. Loves it.) But now that I eat a little, I’m OK with our child having a little from time to time, but I’d like their diet to be mostly fruits, veggies, eggs and more non-meat proteins than meat, if that makes sense. And now I’ve rambled on forever.

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  • Carol October 12, 2012, 8:40 am

    I’m a vegetarian and have no problems with friends or family and my “eating style!” I applaud you for your choices to be healthy .

    My daughter and I read your blog ( we live 500 miles apart ) she’s a vegetarian too and we both think that Henry is by far the cutest baby we’ve ever seen !

    You so such a good job with him – keep it up !

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  • Nikki October 12, 2012, 9:09 am

    I’m a vegetarian who is looking to get knocked up in the next few months, and I’m wondering if there were any other nutritional needs that you watched carefully during your pregnancy. For instance, B12, omega fatties–or did you really just concern yourself with the protein and iron and let your diet take care of the rest?
    I’ve been a vegetarian for several years now and it’s very important to me, but my anxious side is already taking over and making me worry that I won’t be giving baby enough of x, y, z if I’m not very very vigilant with my eating. (And I’d rather not spend my pregnancy counting grams of vitamins and minerals.)

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    • Caitlin October 12, 2012, 9:40 am

      I took b vitamins and omega 3s.

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  • Alexa October 12, 2012, 9:31 am

    I haven’t eaten meat during most of my pregnancy mainly because the taste, texture and smell are totally unappealing! This is hard being celiac, and during my first trimester, it made going out to eat feel impossible because most restaurants gluten free options were plain meat with potatoes and vegetables. Anyway, I HATED the comments people made to me (my own husband, until he became more informed, included) about how I better make sure I was getting enough protein. There was a time I just wanted to keep ANY food down. I have low iron right now as well, but still cannot stand red mead, especially ground beef, even just the smell of it. And…my baby is growing and developing wonderfully!

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  • Sunny October 12, 2012, 10:19 am

    My parents became vegetarian in 1982 when I was 2 years old. Their house has remained meat-free since then. I am 100% vegetarian (with a dairy-light diet; definitely not vegan). My brother, however, is a full on meat eater and always has been. While my parents did not allow meat in the house, I think my brother ate meat at school and at friend’s houses. We tease him about “poisoning his body”, but we tease about a lot of things in our family.

    When I was a kid, none of my friends knew what a vegetarian was—my guess is that’s less of an issue today. But once I explained to people that it meant I didn’t eat meat (and after we got through the “do you eat X?” “what about Y?” questions it was not a big deal at all.

    If I had a kid, I would definitely raise him vegetarian, while understanding he might start to eat meat at some point in life and I’d have to be okay with that. I’m certainly glad I’m a life-long veggie.

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  • Emily October 12, 2012, 10:29 am

    I was vegetarian for almost 2 months (except a few holiday treats) before I got pregnant and as soon as I got pregnant with the twins I CRAVED meat. That’s all I wanted to eat. Obviously, you were vegetarian for much longer so you probably didn’t have much interest in meat by that point haha but I sort of tried the first few weeks to stay vegetarian. We found out it was twins a few weeks later and I was surprised with how many people made comments that I HAD to eat meat. I worked in a doctors offices with a lot of doctors and nurses and I would get lectures on my lunches and snack choices (even if they were peanut butter and an apple or string cheese or other food with protein) saying I wasn’t eating enough protein/iron/calories. I eventually gave into the meat cravings and quickly went back to not being vegetarian. I debated trying again after the babies were born, but there was a lot of stress, a lot of people making my food for me, and it just hasn’t worked out since. Maybe after baby 3 is born I’ll try again. I also had a hard time not giving the twins meat. Our pediatrician pushed protein for them because they’ve always been so small and the protein that they seem to like best is cheese and chicken. Now they just eat what we’re eating, but I’ll have to do some research and thinking if I do decide to go vegetarian because I’d most likely make them vegetarian too since I don’t want to be making or feeding my kids things I don’t personally want to eat, ya know?

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  • Jessika October 12, 2012, 10:49 am

    I’m predominantly vegan (I eat my own chickens eggs, and dang it, I just can’t quit my occasional sushi), so I got lots of questions from friends and some family about my diet while pregnant. I did get told by a few that I “needed” meat, but I had an 8lbs 4oz baby who’s been in the 90+ percentile since birth. He’s huge and all veg. He’s now 1 year old, still a monster and healthy as an ox. My husband eats meat sometimes when he eats out, but our house is meat free. I now get asked by family when I’m “finally going to let him eat meat?!” I’ll let him try meat once he’s old enough to understand what it is. Right now he loves his kitties and chickens, and I have a feeling he will feel just as betrayed as I did once I found out what meat really was (I’m eating my friends! Ahhh!!!!). So right now he eats vegetarian, when family asks I tell them we’re waiting until later, and it will be his choice.
    Sometimes it seems like no one wants you happy, but there isn’t much you can do about it.

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  • Susan October 12, 2012, 11:17 am

    I am not a vegetarian. I do think the reason why people think vegetarian lifestyles can be unhealthy is because it takes a lot of knowledge and dedication to make sure you are getting everything your body needs. Not everybody does that. It is possible to do but it takes informed decisions to be “successful”.

    I had a question when you said you hope people will offer him vegetarian options. Do you expect people to make him special meals? Because I think that would be unfair for the people around him. I know a lot of vegetarians pack meals for themselves and their kids so they can provide the meals that meet their diet needs.

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    • Caitlin October 12, 2012, 12:36 pm

      Hm I don’t know. I guess there are so many things that kids eat that aren’t special – like grilled cheese – that I would just hope people would be helpful.

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      • Carrie October 12, 2012, 10:40 pm

        My daycare has been so great with my daughter being vegetarian. I have to say that I really don’t believe that a food not containing some of meat product is “special.” people can eat a wonderfully healthy, affordable and easy to make vegetarian meals. I do not think it is “unfair” for a school, family, or daycare to provide some sort of plant based option. Vegetarian food is often quite healthy. If I wasn’t a vegetarian, I would not think it was unfair to have to make meat free food for a guest, let alone a child who was visiting. I’m all for providing meals to ensure my daughter has well balanced meals, but in a pinch meat free really shouldn’t e considered something abnormal

        Reply
  • Ashlee October 12, 2012, 11:20 am

    I’m so glad this question was asked! I’m also a sometimes-vegan, always vegetarian and plan to have kids soon. Neither mine or my husband’s families are on board with the no meat thang, so I worry about this a lot!

    Reply
  • Elyse October 12, 2012, 12:06 pm

    It irks so much how people are criticized for being vegetarian/vegan, especially while pregnant, when so many other people eat so terribly all the time: tons of sweets, factory farmed meat, etc. Most of the people I know who are veg spend WAY more time and effort on what they eat than meat eaters and are usually so much healthier. I loved seeing how you handled being vegetarian while pregnant and now that you’re a mom. You have such a great perspective and attitude, keep it up!!!

    Reply
  • Angela October 12, 2012, 12:52 pm

    Me and my husband aren’t vegetarians, but I highly respect those people who are. I have a different problem with my mother-in law. She and her daughter make fun of me eating clean and healthy. She always makes fun of me and puts in comments while trying to be funny. The other day my husband made me a dinner and I was trying to tell her how nice of him that was, since he only does it once a year but in return I got, “well, he is probably tired of your healthy diet.” I think she was trying to be funny, but it really hurts to hear that from her. How should I react to that? I don’t want to ruin our relationship.

    Reply
  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life October 12, 2012, 1:40 pm

    I’m not a vegatarian so I’m no help on that front, but I did follow the Bradley Method with my first pregnancy and am currently on my second. I take the extra protein intake very seriously. I find that I have to get creative since eating only meat to get the required amount of daily protein would get old fast. Eggs are definitely my friends as well as greek yogurt topped with Kashi granola. Not only does the yogurt come packed with protein but the granola claimes to have as much protein as one egg per serving.

    I just had a house guest that is a vegatarian and you better believe I was respectful of her diet choice. I made a delicious baked ziti with garlic, spinach, and tomatoes. Me and my meat-lovin’ husband didn’t mind one bit and I know my friend appreciated the thoughtfullness. It wasn’t a burden and I took pride in making her a dish that she enjoyed!

    Reply
  • Amber K October 12, 2012, 2:36 pm

    My family has given me grief my whole life about not liking meat. I really hate the taste and texture of it and my family is not supportive. In fact I would be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time I heard “you don’t like X? But it doesn’t have any meat in it.” Hardy har har. Ugh.

    I have pretty much realized that if I have kids they will be given meat by family on both sides. All I can really do is feed them what I think is healthiest at home and explain my decisions as they get older.

    Reply
  • Tiffany October 13, 2012, 10:08 am

    My mom helped raise my daughter from newborn to 6 months, because i was still in high school. Well when my daughter started taking solid foods my mom thought it was her RIGHT to feed my child what ever she wanted. Mostly, by putting soda in her milk bottle, and per-chewing potato chips and feeding them to her by the barrel. No matter what i said (which was everyday a few choice words) the moment i left for school she would keep her awake all day feeding her soda and chips. Then about 10 minutes before i would get home she would give her prob the 1st bottle of milk that day by her(i fed her before i would go to school) and she would sleep until my bedtime (9-10) and i would have to stay up till 1am with my daughter (her form of punishment for being a teen mom maybe? hard to punish your kid if they’re a mom too before the age of 18). which not only made me cranky but also my daughter. anyways the moral of the story is people will always be testing your boundaries with your child if they are with you or not, some people wont listen to your choices and will try to demolish all boundaries with your child (which has happened to my daughter when shes at her grandmothers house, no rules on what or how much she can eat if I’m not around) most of this i would not even know if my older sister didn’t tell me everything.

    Reply
  • Dominique October 13, 2012, 3:27 pm

    I have been wanted to respond to this since it went up, but have been too busy until now. My husband and I are having this debate right now. We have a three month old daughter and I’m a vegetarian. I have been a vegetarian for over 7 years . When my husband and I started dating 5 years ago, he was a huge meat eater. Now, he’s much more of a weekday vegetarian. Oddly enough, I would like the baby to be introduced to meat and be able to make her own decision about being a vegetarian when it can be more informed. My husband would rather that we raise her vegetarian and let her eat meat later if she chooses to. My biggest concern is our family cultures. His family is German and has many meat based dishes that are important while mine is Lebanese and also has many culturally significant meat based dishes. I don’t want her to be cut off from that. I made my choice to be vegetarian with a full understanding of what I was gaining and what I was giving up and I would like for her to be able to have that same option. After being vegetarian for so long, I’ve found that if I accidentally get some meat (which happened a couple of times while traveling in Asia) I get very sick. I don’t really want to have to worry about my daughter getting sick if she eats a meat at a friends house or with our families.

    I did consider eating meat (at least locally grown organic chicken) while I was pregnant because I was finding it nearly impossible to get more than 55 grams of protein a day. The midwives told me that as long as I had at least doubled my protein intake from my pre-pregnancy diet and the baby’s growth and development were normal, then there was nothing to worry about and I could just keep doing what I was doing. I did end up having low iron but started using more cast iron pans to cook in and that seemed to fix the issue.

    Reply
  • Dukebdc October 13, 2012, 10:39 pm

    I have been a vegetarian for 13 years and am healthy as a horse. My husband is not veggie but eats what I cook every night and often forgoes meat even when we go out to a restaurant. Yet he tells me over and over that when I get pregnant he wants me to eat meat during my pregnancy. It is an ongoing discussion and I hope I can present enough evidence to him soon that a veggie pregnancy is safe!

    Reply
    • Dominique October 15, 2012, 12:48 pm

      Most doctors will agree that vegetarian pregnancies are safe. I would make sure to find one who is supportive of your choices. Two great resource are the books “My Vegetarian Pregnancy” and “Diet for a Small Planet”. Like Caitlin said, the biggest concerns are protein and iron. You can easily account for both by carefully planning what you are going to eat. Lentils and our cast iron cookware were so helpful for me in keeping my iron consumption up. One of the biggest things with iron (that I didn’t know until I was 8 months pregnant) is that consuming it with dairy decreases your absorption. This became a big problem for me because my heartburn was so bad I was drinking milk all day long. You can definitely have a healthy vegetarian pregnancy!

      Reply
  • Lauryn January 4, 2013, 1:32 pm

    Hey Caitlin! I know Im really late in this comment versus when you posted this, but I was wondering if you ever had trouble keeping your calorie intake up? I just did a little mock up meal plan, we are about to start trying (!), and Im only hitting about 1800 calories a day following the rec’d Bradley diet. Im trying to keep it to mostly whole foods and no added sugars. Im hoping to keep things like that as treats for myself. Am I missing something? It seems like Im eating A LOT of food too. Any help would be appreciated!!

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 4, 2013, 1:34 pm

      Yes, it is SOOOO hard to eat enough calories when you are eating healthy and vegetarian. Very hard. Try adding a few calorie-rich foods like peanut butter or avocado.

      Reply

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