When I fell pregnant, wondering if my baby would be vegan wasn’t something I had really thought about… but after doing my research I realised this would be the right thing for him.
Sadly, due to complications, I didn’t end up breastfeeding. This is extremely healthy for a baby and would also have meant that in my case, my baby, Reggie, would not have been receiving any dairy anyway due to my diet. We decided to put him on an organic milk, as there were not any vegan formulas available. Since weaning began, we have experimented with lots of new foods and we pretty much feed him anything we eat.
The biggest challenge is finding snacks on-the-go that we can just grab out of the cupboard, so he only has a selective choice. He loves vegan yogurts, soups, scrambled tofu and buckwheat porridge. Even with these you can add chia seeds, seasonings and hidden veggies. I really enjoy cooking for him knowing he is getting so much goodness from the food I am feeding him and not the man-made food with chemicals and hormones. Normally, I just give him what we eat unless he is hungry and I am not already cooking. Replacing meat is really easy as there are so many options out there now and you wouldn’t taste the difference. Dairy is the biggest problem as it is in nearly every product.
Of course, raising a vegan child comes with lots of criticism and there are many critics who think they know best. Although in my opinion, most of these people probably don’t give their children their “5 a day.” A lot of parents I have spoken to give their children chicken nuggets or easy chips because the thought of cooking is too much after a long day. I totally get that and have days just the same, but then I make sure that the ready-made products I use are low in sugar, organic and have goodness in them. I am by no means a saint… My baby eats a lot of crisps. He loves them! Sometimes that is all he will eat and I would rather he has veg crisps then nothing.
Eggs, for instance, are so bad for children. Up to 3 eggs a week has a significant increase in artery clogging build-up. Furthermore, the eggs come from chickens who have not been looked after and caged in horrific conditions.
Family support has been the biggest help! Reggie has been gifted vegan food and it is such a nice feeling. Even if my family does not believe in my lifestyle, they don’t bash me. I have also had an effect on my family with my mum changing her diet and seeing the difference it has made. My dad also lost weight with me cooking plant-based meals at home, which helps with his heart disease.
The usual comment from outsiders is, “Well you need vitamins to top up what you don’t get.” This is and isn’t true. B12 seems to be everyone’s favourite making this point. People who aren’t vegan probably need vitamins more so than a vegan does. If all they do is eat frozen food and cheap meat then they won’t get what they need. Having takeaways more than twice a week and eating all the chemicals in that food means that you won’t be getting all the nutrients you need. This then shows in your skin, in your energy and your body.
I have lots of food containing B12 and take vitamins for lots of things, such as vitamin D for the lack of sun and also for medication I have been on which has affected my bones. I also don’t like certain fruits which would give me certain vitamins so that tops this up.
At the end of the day it’s all about balance so if you’re thinking about healthier choices there are lots of swaps you can make. Give my vegan Instagram page a follow for some helpful recipes and ideas: @mummys_vegan_kitchen.