Vegan, Vegetarian or Meat? What’s Right for You?
Vegan, Vegetarian or Meat? What’s Right for You?
Food. It’s a huge topic. It seems to be on most people’s minds – what to eat, what not to eat. Especially during pregnancy, and after the birth.
I’m not here to tell you what’s the right way.
I’m sharing my thoughts, experiences and findings when it comes to postpartum and ideal foods for healing and recovering, breastmilk supply and hormones.
It’s important to ask yourself what you need, what feels right for you.
I’ve been a meat eater (and interestingly, as a kid I always had to smother it with sauce of some kind, and could never eat it cold the next day).
I’ve been vegetarian. And vegan.
And I’ve never followed the Keto, Paleo or Carnivore diet.
Despite all the pro’s, con’s, debates, research, data, opinions and ancient traditions, every body handles certain foods in different ways.
The one thing most traditional cultures had in place, though, was gratitude and respect for the animals and food they ate.
In almost every culture, specific meals for postpartum recovery have been meat based – even some vegetarian cultures – for the first several weeks at least. Hindu religion is the exception.
Personally, I love ayurveda, however postpartum recipes can be quite heavy with dairy. Dairy isn’t ideal for many and can often affect the baby, via the breastmilk. Again, taking note of your body, and your baby’s when you’ve eaten certain foods is key.
Here’s the thing – I’ve spoken to quite a few mamas who have been vegan or vegetarian for years, or most of their life and when it came to having a baby, cravings for meat arose.
Myself included. For my 5th baby, I was vegan, and craving fish sooo strongly.
I tried to deny it, because of my fear of being judged by my vegan friends. Until one day, when we were out of town, by the beach, I just had to have that piece of crumbed fish.
It’s crazy to think I denied my body, my baby of what I was so strongly being drawn to eat.
Possibly there was some vitamin or mineral that I was needing like calcium or vit D, and if I’d had adequate vegetarian sources my body wouldn’t have craved fish. (Shrugs)
But it wasn’t until my postpartum nutrition training that I learned so much. Vegetarian/vegan diet most likely needs the help of supplements. But supplements are hard to digest for a postpartum body. Many are synthetic, which aren’t absorbed well.
Supplements are not a complete food where there are different vitamins and minerals working with each other.
As the mums I’ve spoken to started to introduce meat (for some it was only chicken, or bone broths) they admitted to feeling better, having more energy, sleeping better. Interesting, huh?
Having said that, I follow some vegan / vegetarian mamas on social media who have remained vegan / vego for years and during postpartum who say they are going well. That’s awesome too.
It’s been noted that vegetarian / vegan women have a higher rate of postpartum depression. However other factors can be at play here, like supressing trauma, or having zero support.
It’s important to note though, Iron deficiency is common and often misdiagnosed as postpartum depression.
If you are vegan / vegetarian, it will require some big planning to have your physical needs met after having your baby. Nutritious protein, that’s not soy based, can be tricky. Legumes aren’t ideal in the early weeks because they can cause a lot of gas, for you and baby.
Relying on supplements in early postpartum is not ideal, as I mentioned, due to the digestive system being vulnerable with lower enzymes and supplements are not created equal.
5 Key vitamins to be aware of needing during pregnancy and especially postpartum are:
Getting these from whole foods is going to be more beneficial for you, however if you need to have a supplement (and remaining vegan / vegetarian will most likely require this) try to source plant derived supplements. That way they’ll digest well, and absorb better.
If you are vegan or vegetarian and have been contemplating introducing meat for your postpartum recovery, you can start with simple bone broths. Keep it soupy.
The important thing is to introduce things slowly, listening to your body as you go. You are intuitive, mama. Trust yourself.
If the thought of eating meat turns you off – I totally get that – so just ensure you’re planning ahead and know what you need for the several weeks after birth. Keep it easy to digest, warming and nutritious with lots of quality protein and fats.
Discover your family roots, and what your mother ate, her mother and so on, and how they were cared for. What traditions were practiced and would they serve you today?
Whatever you decide, trust your body and what it’s feeling.
The postpartum nutrition plan I provide mothers with is omnivorous, however I also have vegetarian/vegan recipes to substitute for the meat recipes. We go through the plan together, tailoring it to your specific requirements.
Imagine having 6 weeks of meals and snacks sorted out! You can even give family and friends recipes for them to make ahead of time, or on the day.
What a relief!
Knowing you’re getting the best nutrition to help your body recover, make the best breastmilk, and giving you the energy – and sleep – you need to be the mum you want to be.
Want to chat more about it? Book in for your free call here.
In the meantime, tune in to your body and ask “How would I feel if I ate…..?” “What does my body need right now?”. And trust your guidance.