How my veggie baby became my vegan baby!

So…it’s been AGES since my last post. It’s been a pretty busy year or so. After the chaos of our wedding, followed quickly by the birth of our baby , we gave ourselves a little break before embarking on the next task – moving house! I don’t have any interesting relevant veggie stories about the whole nightmare of house hunting – I’m just mentioning it by way of explanation.

What I want to talk about is the potential difficulties of raising a vegetarian baby. My little one was exclusively breastfed for the first six months of her life and luckily, she and I both found it pretty easy. I am aware that this isn’t always the case and I’m in no way judging anyone who formula feeds. Being a mum is hard enough without being judged by the “breastapo”! She got through the first 6 months of her life with no real problems, except a bit of eczema, predominantly on her face. The problems arose when we started weaning. I tried to make her food from scratch – again, not judging, this was just what I wanted to do. It’s a lot cheaper than buying those tiny jars, for one thing! The one thing I didn’t make was her porridge. I bought baby porridge and it is fortified with vitamins and is more finely milled than regular porridge, so I thought it would be both better and easier for her. Most of the brands I looked at weren’t vegetarian but I managed to find one that was, and had the added bonus of being made up with hot water, whereas the others were made up with the baby’s regular milk which, if you’re breastfeeding means trying to express 200ml a day just for breakfast, on top of whatever volume you need for cooking or bottles.
Most babies start of on a veggie diet of pureed or mashed veg anyway, so she was eating pretty much the same as her little friends in the first few months. We gradually started introducing foods one at a time. All the advice says that this is particularly important if there is a family history of allergies, and I am allergic to nickel and have hay-fever so I was extra careful! When she was about 8 months old I thought I’d try her with some scrambled egg. She absolutely loved it! She wolfed down a whole egg’s worth but then immediately brought it all back up again! She wasn’t a sickly baby so this was quite unlike her. Not wanting to panic too much I called 111 (this is a UK phone number that provides non-emergency medical advice). She had started to go a little bit floppy so I was advised to take her straight to A&E right away and she was given Piriton. After a bit of a wait we saw a paediatrician who told me in no uncertain terms not to “fuck about” next time, and to call an ambulance as my daughter had quite a serious egg allergy! She also said that the eczema on my daughter’s face was likely to be down to a milk allergy. The recommended course of action was to cut both egg and dairy from both of our diets (in case I passed them on via my breast milk). She was absolutely fine by this point so we went home and cleared out the cupboards!

So, that’s how my veggie baby became my vegan baby! This has caused a few challenges, which I’ll tell you all about in due course!


Having a healthy vegetarian baby.

So, after the hassle of arranging a vegetarian wedding we have a new challenge to face – a vegetarian pregnancy! I have to say that after the comments I get day – to -day, I was expecting to get a lot more grief about this but I have only really received one comment, and that was from my dad! When I told him I was pregnant he said “So, you’re going to start eating meat now then, are you?”, to which I replied with a simple “No”, and that was that. Maybe people are too scared to mess with a hormonal woman!
I’ll admit that I was a bit worried about getting all the nutrients that myself and my baby needed, but this was more because I have a history of borderline iron deficiency anaemia (this was BEFORE I stopped eating meat) and that fact that I couldn’t face eating a lot of things for the first couple of months, than that fact that I am a vegetarian. I took vitamins for first few months, which I think most pregnant women do, veggie or not, but I really haven’t changed my diet. It’s pretty easy to get everything you need, but if you need any help, do what I did and stick this poster, available from Viva!,up in your kitchen. I am pleased to say that my bloods have all been fine, my weight gain has been normal and despite being in a high risk group for gestational diabetes, my glucose tolerance is completely normal too.
So, the moral of the story is that, regardless of what the “Where are you going to get your protein / calcium / iron from?” scaremongers might say, a vegetarian diet is perfectly healthy for expectant mothers, and their growing babies!


Our Vegetarian Wedding

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I’ve had a busy year! As you may remember, I was planning my (vegetarian) wedding last time. You might also remember that the idea of a meat-free weekend was met with some hostility by some of the guests, as well as a few people who had nothing to do with the wedding but felt the need to object anyway! Well, I’m pleased to say that it went without a hitch and there were no complaints about the food. In fact, lots of the guests told us how delicious it was and that they hadn’t missed having meat at all. The venue, Buckland Hall, was beautiful, the staff were attentive yet unobtrusive, and the food was amazing!

 Buckland Hall is an entirely vegetarian and egg-free venue, and if you’re planning a veggie event, I can heartily recommend it! The cake was made locally Jo Wright at Secret Cinderella Cakes and also went down very well, despite being dairy free! 
The hand knitted owl cake toppers were a clue to our “surprise entertainment”. Our wedding rings were delivered to the best man during the ceremony my Olivia the barn owl, and after the drinks and canapes, we all moved outside into the crisp November air for a falconry display provided by Hawksdrift Falconry, who you might have seen on Dragon’s Den
All the guests had a chance to fly the birds, including my favourite and star of the show, Olivia.After the falconry display, we moved back indoors for our fantastic wedding breakfast, followed by a relaxing break then a disco and more veggie treats in the evening. 
All in all, the day couldn’t have gone better, and I think the whole experience goes to show that you should do what you think is right and what makes you happy, especially when it comes to your wedding. You will never be able to please everyone anyway, and you never know, you might even change some people’s minds – if only temporarily! 

Ignorance is bliss

So, I’ve been getting the usual questions on a regular basis for several years now and rather than repeat myself over and over again I’m going to start answering them here. I’ll try to address one issue a week, schedule allowing, which will be either one of the most common or most annoying that I encounter. This week, the big one – PROTEIN!
I’ve recently read The China Study (which I highly recommend if you have any questions about the health aspects of a whole foods, plant based diet), which has prompted the occasional discussion with colleagues about vegetarianism. After trying to explain the detrimental health effects of animal protein demonstrated in the book, one of my colleagues stated that “We need to eat animal protein as there are some nutrients you can only get from meat – and I’ve got a biology degree!”. This is worrying on so many levels! Even when I did my GCSEs (UK high school exams) many moons ago (ok – 1993) we were taught that you needed to get all the essential amino acids and that, while they are all present in meat they are also present in soya. Nowadays it’s accepted that you don’t even need to get all of these amino acids at the same time i.e, rather than having to eat soya (or meat!), you can gain them separately from various plant sources throughout the day. However,while it’s clear that we knew nearly 20 YEARS AGO that you didn’t have to eat meat in order to consume a healthy amount of protein,this is still the prevailing opinion, even amongst the “educated”.
Interestingly, at school we were also taught that while saturated (animal) fats were bad for you (which I’ll go into in another post), low fat cuts of meat were a good way to include this protein in your diet. Unfortunately, there is now substantial evidence to support the case against, not just animal fat, but animal protein, which has been shown to contoribute to the development of various diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes, as well as osteoporosis, kidney stones and autoimmune diseases such as MS.
Populations following a mainly whole foods, plant based diet tend to have lower rates of all of these diseases (when normalised for age and activity level) than populations that consume a more animal based diet.
So no,while we do need to consume protein, we don’t need to eat animals to do it, and the sooner people are taught that, the better.


Vegetarian Wedding Plans

I am getting married later this year and am planning on having an entirely vegetarian wedding. I don’t think this will come as a massive surprise to our guests as both myself and my fiance are vegetarian, yet some people have called me selfish for inflicting my views on others! I don’t think I’ve ever complained to the about the food at a wedding or any other social function, despite the fact that the veggie option is often of very poor quality. I have had to have a plate of side vegetables as xmas dinner before, as the veggie option was inedible, but I understand that the organisers cannot arrange for everyone’s personal tastes to be catered for.I certainly wouldn’t call them selfish. When you’re catering for large numbers of people you’ll never please everyone .However, I fully intend to have a chocolate wedding cake too, despite the fact that one or two of the guests can’t stand chocolate, but no one seems to find that offensive! I won’t be asking anyone to eat anything they don’t already eat – I’m just asking them to lay off the meat for one meal. Is that really selfish? If people really object, they can get a burger on the way home – we’ll never know!