Moms run the world, but vegan parenthood can be faced with harsh criticism, misconceptions, and isolation. We sought out Yada Beener of YadaBe, a mother, fitness specialist, entrepreneur, and vegan. We asked her some basic questions about her experiences with raising a young vegan. Enjoy!
1. What inspired you to nurse, feed and expose your newborn to veganism?
I was inspired to nurse my son because I knew that it would be the best introduction for us to share post birth. I knew that when my son (independently) found my breast and began to nurse that that moment would be one of his first lessons in trust. He could trust that his mother's milk, nipple and skin would keep him healthy with a normal temperature and provide him with the nourishment to grow. I chose for my son to be vegan because I knew that I wanted him to grow a love for fruit and vegetables. I also did not and do not want to support the meat industry because of the unethical ways that animals, seeds, plant life, and farmers are treated in the industry.
2. What were the benefits of being vegan during pregnancy and nursing?
I was not a vegan during my pregnancy. I was a vegetarian who still consumed dairy products and an occasional soda with high fructose corn syrup. After I gave birth to my son, I developed a dairy allergy. I believe my body decided to refuse the milk of other animals in an effort to protect and improve my own lactation process. As a vegan I have a high raw food intake. I believe this is a huge benefit in the production of my milk. When I was 12 weeks postpartum I had to stop pumping and freezing my milk because I could literally no longer close my freezer due to the overabundance of milk stored. In speaking with my midwife, she also attributed my successful production of milk to the fact that I consumed food that experienced little to no processing before it reached my plate.
3. How does your child like the cuisine?
I have had an amazing journey nursing my child and raising him vegan. In fact, he is just like any other 3 year old where he seems to have an okay diet where he is eating his favorite veggies or fruit and then all of a sudden demand that he only eats vegan nuggets for an entire week.
4. Did you have any difficulties at school or socially due to your son's diet?
I am lucky to have my son at a school where I can provide him with his own lunch. My mom packed a lunch for me to take to school everyday so it was natural for me to do the same as I transitioned into a mom. I like the knowledge of knowing what goes into my son's body. It helps me to make sure he is getting the correct daily intake of protein, veggies, fruits, starches and even water. It also helps me track any potential stomach bugs to the source.
I will note that at around the age of 2, my son began to ask the question as to why he could not eat what his friends were eating at school. I would be transparent with him and tell him that I thought that consuming the milk of another mammal was nasty and that we did not eat other animals either. It was important for me to share with my son that it was my opinion and not to communicate it as a fact that this was the ideal or superior diet.
My son will now advocate for himself at a dinner table and explain that he only eats "veban" cheese :-) He will also identify foods that have cows milk in the ingredients.
5. Any difficulties currently?
My son is currently 3 years old so the only difficulty I experience nursing him these days is to convince him to not do a forward roll while he nurses. It may seem funny but this is currently my biggest woe.
6. What would you say to a mother weighing the benefits of veganism?
I would tell a mom that she should see herself as a mammal. As laborious as it is to nurse your own child and pump your own milk, imagine if you were to do it on command to provide milk for another animal to use. I believe that nursing automatically allows you to express empathy to other lactating mammals. I would also share that it is a great way to introduce a love for veggies, to not only your child but to all members of the house. Hey, if there is one thing Americans can use more of, it is vegetables and fruit. So why not be vegan?