thoughts on compromise

I had scrambled eggs for breakfast. They were veg-fed, free-range and organic, but they were still obviously not vegan. I’ve also been eating little bits of cheese here and there for weeks.

It all started a couple months ago. After more than five years of being completely vegan and loving it, I started thinking about cheese. It wasn’t quite a craving, but it slowly grew until one day in the grocery store my hand reached out all on its own and grasped a single serving of string cheese. I ate it very slowly in the car with a bizarre mixture of shame and relief, and ever since then I’ve been trying to figure out what to do.

When I first got pregnant, a few friends and family members expressed concern about my vegan diet. I did research and felt confident that I could stay vegan throughout my pregnancy. I still believe it’s completely possible to have a healthy vegan pregnancy. But it’s not easy. It takes a whole lot of beans and nuts and vegetables to add up to the 75g of protein a day recommended for pregnant women. Getting the right balance of amino acids is also a challenge because it requires such a variety of foods. Soy products are the only whole vegan proteins, and I’m not comfortable relying so heavily on them. I’ve been worried for a while about the possible risks of my high intake of soy (hormonal impact of isoflavones, high percentage GMO, etc.).

I’ve been eating some kind of protein with almost every meal and still I’ve been craving sugar, which is a sign that I may not be getting enough protein (or having a girl, if you listen to the old wives’ tales). I’m trying to listen to my body, and right now my body is saying that cheese and eggs in moderation are worth it.

I’m woefully conflicted about this backslide to vegetarianism. As with getting married, I’m making what feels like the right decision even though it goes against core personal beliefs. Veganism for me is more than just a political statement. It’s something that feels right deep in my heart and soul. Fundamentally, it’s about non-violence. It’s healthier, it’s better for the earth, and it means that no creature has to suffer for me to eat.

I can make justifications that the particular cheese and eggs I’m eating are (to the best of my knowledge) not products of factory farming. I can tell myself that at this point in my life — and especially in my baby’s life — it might very well be healthier not to be 100% vegan. But it’s still a major compromise. All I can do is take it one day at a time. Don’t expect to see me eating fettucini alfredo anytime soon.

7 thoughts on “thoughts on compromise

  1. Sweet Ballsy Babe,

    Be gentle with yourself, first and foremost. Ideally a person can have a wonderfully healthy pregnancy without animal products, but even with my years at the organic vegetable co-op, I have only seen one woman manage it completely.

    The body’s ability to get the nutrients that it needs changes constantly, esp as you are adjusting to your child’s changing needs. Keep working up your protein through-out the diet and try to find the complimentary vitamins and minerals that will support high protein uptake.

    In the meantime I know you will eat mindfully, as you live mindfully, seeing the reality of each new day in front of you!

    big hugs,

    Christy aka Econgrrl

  2. Hey, love, I’ll back you up either way. I don’t have much to bring to the table, really, as a backslid vegetarian that never got to vegan. But I know you don’t do much of anything lightly, so you’ve got my vote, whatever you do. And the Wee Peanut is worth it.

  3. oh honey, trust me, i know all about it. i too was a vegan till pregnancy (for about 3 yrs, i think). and one day i think i might have actually been crying because i wanted real yogurt so badly, and i finally had it.
    pregnancy is a time of so much change in your body and your baby’s body. you’re actually growing a whole new organ for him or her; isn’t that amazing? it takes not only energy and protein and calories but a wide range of nutrients.
    i chose to think of it as listening to my body’s wisdom. i love eating vegan, and for me, being vegan and pregnant didn’t feel right.
    as you know, lately things are even more interesting in my diet realm. i have tried for so long to be non-judgmental about other people’s diets. i figured it was time to do the same for myself.
    also, think of all the time you have spent being so conscious. you will get back there, when it feels right to you. in the meantime, enjoy your food and tell the chickens and cows how grateful you are to them.
    also, if you ever need an egg buddy, let me know. i would gladly cook you some fabulous free-range breakfast food.

  4. Ballsy-

    Don’t sweat the karma babe. Your best karma ever is growing in you. The light and love of what’s happening to you is completely natural. From what I can see, you are well-loved and supported and that can provide a sweet balance to the “guilt” you may be feeling.

    Be gentle with yourself, you are already working pretty hard on your little miracle. Good for you to listen to your body, and follow your intuition. You are already a terrific Mom.


  5. That last comment – to save other non-French-speakers like me the googling effort – means “The future is in eggs.” Thanks MIL! xo

    And thanks to all of you for your support. I’m working through my angst. Cheese never did stop *tasting* good, so that helps. :)

  6. Um hey, I replied to your tweet about this, but forgot to come read the blog post until now. I suck! Anyway, total support. And in my own path, having gone back to (mere!) vegetarianism only five months ago, I’ve been eating vegan whenever possible (remember, I am lazy and have no aesthetic sense or imagination beyond what it takes to write, and even then I’m challenged, so cooking for me is pure pain), but cheese? So far, that’s still the deal-breaker. For as long as Vermont Sharp Cheddar exists in this world, I can’t really picture going vegan.

    And I’m not even pregnant! (But I do remember both of my pregnancies quite well, and the cravings, and the inexplicable needs I couldn’t call cravings because they were deeper than that.)

    So, please, indeed, extend to yourself the sweetness and understanding to extend to so many others (I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten meat in your presence, and now I’m thinking about that and going ewwwww, so sorry).

    Much love.

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