One of the first things I was told about veganism while pregnant was not to do it and/or that’ll it be hard to get protein. My eyes rolled back so far you’d think I was possessed. Admittedly and obviously, I judged right back. I got up my vegan pedestal. How was I going to take advice from a meat and dairy eater with multiple health problems? Whenever I ask what protein is and what it does, how much you’re supposed to get, and what other vitamins and minerals you need to support your body, I’ve yet to be given a complete answer. Why do people seem to care about your protein intake when it comes to veganism, but don’t care about their overall nutrition on a daily basis?
Then I got off my vegan high horse because I realized quickly I was probably going to get that advice often and I didn’t want to let it affect me every time. I shouldn’t use judgement to put out judgement. I knew from personal experience if I felt better without animal byproducts in me, there was nothing to defend. We all have a right to choose.
On the other hand, I was on the road to motherhood and I would have to start making choices for another person until they developed their own sense of autonomy. As far as I know, my genetic makeup is caked in meats, diary, and starchy delights. So, I did a blood test to make sure I wasn’t depriving my future child of what they’ll need. My first test came back with great results, results people say I shouldn’t have being mostly vegan. I’d also be given urine strips throughout pregnancy to keep tabs as well. (It was hardly possible to have perfect urine samples in the first trimester because almost every week, my body was going through either only wanting to eat two things or throwing up everything.) For the most part, however, I had that good pee y’all!
I’ve had an on and off again relationship with meat since Jamaica. About a handful to two times a year I’d eat meat. In Jamaica I had no problems digesting it, but back in the US, I could only eat it in small amounts from limited places or else it’d feel like a rock was in my stomach. I remember once thinking going to KFC was a good idea and the smell and taste of the rawness still in the supposed fried chicken sent me running.
Around 2015-16, I lived with my sister and woman can cook. So much temptation! Occasionally I’d try whatever Jamaican meat thing she made because alas, ’twas my weakness. In 2015, if you can believe it, someone told me the way I react to diary wasn’t normal. I was lactose intolerant! I always was, mind you, but I thought everyone reacted to diary the way I did. Sigh. In 2016, I began reading more about veganism because I couldn’t deny what diary and I had wasn’t right. I even attempted a 2 weeks fruits and veggies detox to reset my body and lose some weight. This was around when I started to realize how my food choices impacted the environment. I struggled with eggs, which was in my fav non meat product at the time, but eventually I got there.
When I began dating my partner, he was raw vegan (eating only uncooked fruits and veggies). We both veered into the meat, diary, and eggs kingdom over time thanks no thanks to our jobs and the temptations of eating with family. Yet we both knew we wanted to work towards raw veganism and adapt it as our ultimate way of eating. We had several successful attempts, but around family, dealing with deep rooted emotions, and when we became truck drivers, it was harder. Frustration in options often led us to eat non vegan occasionally, but we also did several coconut water fasts, which reminded us of the end goal, which evolved beyond raw veganism. What that means is for another post.
And Now Again
I’ve always wanted to do a full detox (as in an all fruit diet) to reset my body. I wanted to do it especially before pregnancy, but that obviously didn’t happen. All my excuses caught up to me and I was hard on myself about it for months. The next best option was a vegan pregnancy. That didn’t quite happen either. If you’ve ever been pregnant or know about the craving situation primarily in the first trimester (for some women anyway), it may not matter what you want or what you tell yourself you’ll want. Your body might say something else and the desire is often very overpowering.
I didn’t lay out my consumption to brag or feel better that it was only a few times. “Exposing” myself frees me from the shame and guilt – it’s in the past and I can’t undo it. I was genuinely disappointed in myself for not adhering to the vegan standard for some time, but I’m more proud and grateful of what pregnancy has taught me about listening to my body and how judgement and expectations can impact eating decisions.
For me, meat is not necessary for nutrition. If the animals I was eating mostly ate plants in order to give me nutrition, it makes sense to me to go straight to the source: da plants. I feel one of the reasons I’ve had no health problems since 2011 or pregnancy health complications is because of how I’m eating, but that isn’t to say my body isn’t still backed up. I want to teach my child to eat for nutrition first. Our cells don’t care about taste – they desire to get what’s needed to maintain a healthy body and mind. Maybe you think I’ll be depriving my child of candy, meats, and the like, but it’s none of my business what you think. You’re free to procreate and do as you like.
I’ll never stop talking about some form of veganism and health. I’m not here to force anyone to live as I do. We all have to speak our truth or we’ll fall for anything. I’m still on the journey to living mine to the fullest.
Most fundamentally, food is sunlight condensed into matter.A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth: Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives by Deepak Chopra M.D.
For a look at some of what I’ve been eating and for general food information, check out my health based Instagram account @growingcouple. I’m working on my detox certification and the content will evolve as a learn more. For additional resources, check out Dr. Sebi, Dr. Llaila Afrika, Dr. Morse, and John Rose on YouTube.