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Is a Low-Fat Vegan Diet a Healthy Choice for Mamas and Babies?

With so much information available to us these days via blogs, magazines, TV, books, ebooks, online news sites, online forums, newsletters, and various “experts” doling out nutritional advice at yoga studios, health foods stores, community gathering centers, bookstores, etc., it can be confusing to sort through all the conflicting information about what a mama ought to be eating to keep herself looking and feeling good in spite of sleepless nights and chasing a toddler around 24/7/365.

If you check with mainstream media resources, you’ll find recommendations such as the importance of eating a low-fat diet rich in whole grains for fiber, dairy for calcium, fruits and vegetables for phytonutrients, nuts and avocados for “healthy” fats, and meat, poultry, and fish for B vitamins and protein.

Magazines that cater to a more health-conscious audience into “green” or “natural” lifestyles tend to recommend a plant-based diet such as a vegan or vegetarian diet for moms, babies, and toddlers, stating that Hollywood celebrities are doing it and as long as you’re careful about taking a B12 supplement and possibly an algae-derived DHA supplement, you won’t be missing anything from skipping the meat.  (Plus, you’ll be saving the planet by eating lower on the food chain, and decreasing your risk for cancer and other diseases by avoiding animal foods high in “toxins” and artery-clogging fat and cholesterol.)

Sure, a plant-based diet sounds good on paper, but what happens to mamas-to-be and mamas who really do “go vegan” for more than a few months?  Do they develop modelesque physiques, sparkling eyes, a glowing complexion, and freedom from disease?  Spend a few hours in the raw vegan blogosphere or watching You Tube videos about the benefits of long-term raw veganism and living on nothing but fruit and vegetable juice, and you might be convinced that eating low on the food chain will help you release excess weight, overcome disease, and become the best version of YOU that you can be.  But if you talk to any meat-eating mamas out there who used to be into a strict vegan lifestyle, you might be surprised by what she tells you.

Indeed, the majority of women who delve into a vegan or vegetarian diet eventually end up eating meat again due to health problems including infertility, amenorhea, lack of energy, thyroid problems, weight gain, lack of muscle tone, feeling cold all the time, brain fog, depressed mood, dental problems, or just a vague feeling of being unwell.  Some women even discover that they are deficient in B12 even though they were using a B12 supplement the entire time they were abstaining from animal products.  While some women tend to keep health issues like these private due to fear of criticism or embarrassment, others freely share their experiences in an effort to prevent other women from suffering from similar health problems.

A few of these women include:

Natasha St. Michael of Raw Radiant Health:

Denise Minger of Raw Food SOS:

Melissa of McEwan of Hunt Gather Love:

Lierre Kieth of The Vegetarian Myth:

These are just a few of the thousands of women — including prominent raw vegan bloggers, authors, and celebrities — who had to let go of a diet devoid of vital nutrients only found in animal products because their bodies were able to tell them the truth even when the so-called “experts” could not.

So what’s a crunchy mama supposed to eat?  Fruit smoothies?  Almond milk?  Steak and potatoes?  Bacon?  The reason why it can be so complicated to figure out what we are supposed to eat is partly because we live in a society in which huge corporations largely control our access to food and the information about it’s healthfulness.  A general rule of thumb you can use when trying to answer the question about whether a particular food is healthy or not is, “If it was advertised on TV or promoted as the latest diet craze among svelte Hollywood celebrities, don’t buy it or eat it.”

Based on the diets of modern hunter-gatherer tribes throughout the world who live free of so-called “diseases of civilization” and who have natural pregnancies and births outside the hospital setting, it can be safe to conclude that healthy diets minimize or exclude grains, and include moderate amounts of raw animal products, including those high in saturated fats and cholesterol.  Some healthy snack ideas include:

  • a cup of raw milk with 1 – 2 raw egg yolks, flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, and raw honey
  • grass-fed beef liverwurst with chopped raw celery, carrot sticks, and cauliflower
  • pemmican (a Native American energy bar made with beef jerky, tallow, honey, and sea salt)
  • fresh, seasonal fruit with a slice of raw sheep’s milk cheese
  • boiled fingerling potatoes seasoned with grass-fed butter and sea salt
  • lamb sweetbreads, mushrooms, onions, and kale stir-fried in grass-fed butter
  • chicken liver pate spread on raw “crackers” made from sprouted nuts and seeds in a food dehydrator
  • tuna sashimi and pickled ginger slices
  • salmon roe on raw crackers or in a salad
  • homemade veggie juice made with cucumber, celery, ginger, and lemon

This should give you some ideas to get started.  For more information about healthy nutrition choices for mamas and babies, order your copy of Healing Our Children.  When you’re finished reading it, keep it as a great reference book or lend it to a friend who needs it.