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The pregnant vegetarian.

by Christa on September 6, 2013

in Baby Gins,Life Story,Pregnancy

“But how do you get enough prooooteeeeeeeeinnnnn?”

This is the question EVERYONE asks me when I say that I’m a vegetarian (which usually only comes up when I am offered meat or conspicuously not eating the sausage breakfast tacos at a meeting).

Actually, I get plenty of protein! Right now I am getting even more than usual because our Bradley instructor says we should get AT LEAST 60 grams per day – I usually get around 75.

It helps that I am not a vegan. I realize that continuing to eat animal products might sound hypocritical for a vegetarian, but veganism does not fit comfortably into my life. It’s hard enough going to work lunches and dinner with friends as it is. If I couldn’t eat dairy we’d be in real trouble. I try to be conscious of how MUCH I eat, but have been really lax during pregnancy and have been wolfing down the eggs and dairy for protein purposes. Ordinarily I don’t eat so many eggs – but damn, do I love some cheese.

My main sources of protein:

Greek yogurt (16 grams!!!!!! per serving)
Eggs (6 grams per egg)
Peanut Butter (4 grams per tablespoon, I usually eat 2 tablespoons on my PB&J every day)
Cereal (I eat Kashi Go Lean Crunch every morning, which has 9 grams per cup – safe to say I eat 2 cups) – plus the milk has another 8 grams per serving, but I don’t finish that.
String Cheese (eat it every day, 7 grams)
Hummus/Chickpeas (2 grams per serving)

You see where I’m going with this. A slice of bread even has 2 grams of protein!! It’s fairly easy for me to meet the standard.

Usually what is harder as a vegetarian is getting enough IRON. I normally take iron supplements daily and can tell a big difference in my energy levels when I don’t take them – this is more pronounced since I am an athlete; vegetarians don’t always need to take supplements. Right now I don’t need to since the prenatals have so much in them. I’m happy to say that my glucose test also revealed that I’m not anemic (can happen during pregnancy)! I didn’t know this, but iron supplements actually make you develop small rings on your teeth – not visible to the untrained eye, but my dentist noticed! It is reversible and the rings come off easily at a cleaning.

A lot of people asked me when I got pregnant if I would stick with a vegetarian diet. This seemed silly to me; of course I would! I get all the nutrients the baby and I need, and my reasons for being a vegetarian go far deeper than health, as I’ve mentioned before. Meat processing in America is truly revolting. If everyone in the world ate meat at the consumption level of Americans, we would need 5 more planets to sustain us – gross. It’s terrible for the environment, it’s terrible for your body, and personally I just can’t have it on my conscience. People always ask if I miss meat, and the truth is I can’t consider eating it without getting disgusted. It just turns me off.

That being said, I don’t feel superior for this decision. Some vegetarians look down on the carnivores. My personal opinion is that everyone should be educated about where their food comes from, and everyone should try to eat less meat and dairy products - the US just eats a ridiculous amount. Everything in moderation!

If anything, being pregnant has reinforced all of these convictions. Our daughter will be raised vegetarian. She can make the decision to eat meat or not when she is old enough – it will be up to her. It’s her health and her life after all!! WHEN she is old enough. :) I think the hardest part for her will be being around family at big get-togethers where meat is heavily featured – like Thanksgiving! Hopefully we’ll be able to explain it to her properly, and our families will back us up in our choice to raise her meat-free. I don’t want her to feel weird; only 3% of children are vegetarian…BUT the ratio is the same for adults, so the Ginsburgs will be in the minority no matter which way you slice it. I babysat for a family in Charlotte and the parents weren’t vegetarian but, interestingly enough, were raising their children veggie! I asked why that was and the mom put it bluntly – “Well, I can’t give up meat. But we know it’s much better for them, so we’re raising them without it.” I wonder now if they’ll end up switching as the kids get older and start wanting to set the example!

So I don’t really think I’ve had a different pregnancy due to being a vegetarian. It’s normal for me – the only difference is getting in more eggs and dairy to hit those desired protein levels (it strengthens the bag of waters and prevents premature rupture – in other words, the extra protein keeps your water from breaking early).

If you are interested in learning about why more and more people are choosing a vegetarian diet, I recommend the following:

Documentaries – Vegucated, Earthlings (this is free online)

Books – Eating Animals, Skinny Bitch

Any other vegetarians out there?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret September 6, 2013 at 8:27 am

Cool, I’m not sure I realized you were vegetarian! (Although it does say so on your about page, so I probably read that at some point.) I’m vegetarian, I’ve tried multiple times to go vegan, but I love ice cream and cheese so much!

Not to the point of having kids yet, though my current boyfriend is flexitarian. We haven’t specifically addressed how we would raise kids diet-wise, although I’d bet he’d be on board with the “veg until the kid can decide for themselves” concept. I think that’s the most reasonable approach. The thing I worry about, mostly, is how – even though I don’t judge anyone’s diet – how to explain it to a kid that we don’t eat animals, explaining that we think it’s not right to eat them, without them judging others – surely to a kid, it’s more black and white, won’t they go up to their friends and say “I can’t believe you eat Babe!”?

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Christa September 6, 2013 at 8:36 am

Oooooo yeah, ice cream!! can’t go without it. What is a “flexitarian”? Eats meat sometimes?

Agree, not sure how to handle that either. “Some people choose to eat animals because they have different beliefs about some animals being ok to eat, but we think all animals are the same, so we don’t eat any.” ????? GAH.

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Margaret September 6, 2013 at 8:47 am

Yeah, flexitarian = occasionally eating meat. Sometimes because it’s a “special” dish of some sort – like he wanted to have seafood once while we were at the coast, and he’s willing to eat it at someone’s house or an event if it’s really the only option for a full meal. He probably ends up having meat once a month or so at the most. At home he cooks all vegetarian, pretty close to vegan, actually.

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Christa September 6, 2013 at 9:14 am

I gotcha – cool!

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kilax September 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Love reading this! I am vegan, my husband is vegetarian (we even have a company – fakemeats.com) and the “OMG PROTEIN?!?!!” comment makes us NUTSO! It’s super easy to consume enough.

Are you vegetarian for environmental reasons? It was interesting for me to read about how meat processing affects the planet in this post, since I do it for moral reasons. I knew it was bad, but geesh, 5 planets!

And amen – no need for a moral high ground. Everyone should do what is right for them and respect each other’s decisions!

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Christa September 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm

That’s awesome that you have a company! I’m gonna check it out.

I’m vegetarian for a combination of reasons – health, environmental, and moral! All in all just the right decision for me. :)

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Cat September 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm

i don’t think that your kid feel weird about being a vegetarian. she’ll think it’s normal, because it’s how you are. and school won’t make her self-conscious, because half the kids in school have some kind of allergy or aversion. some can’t eat peanuts, some will be vegan, others gluten-free, etc. she might think that eating meat is really gross and weird, and you might end up having to explain to her that other people eat animals.

damn, i’m not helping, am i. sorry.

i think she’ll be fine. i had friends in school that couldn’t eat strawberries or peanuts, or their mom’s didn’t let them drink sodas, diabetic kids, hell, my sister lived on egg whites and vegetable beef soup. for two years. she wouldn’t take more than two bites of anything else, and no one ever made fun of her except for me. ;)

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Christa September 9, 2013 at 7:30 am

Fair enough – there are definitely many different diets out there!

You’re right, I think explaining it to her will be the hardest part. Luckily I have a lot of time before that happens!!!

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terra September 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm

It always amazes me that that’s the number one question people ALWAYS ask vegetarians and it’s just such a silly question once you do some research. I don’t eat meat at home and I don’t eat a lot of meat when I’m out, either, but I know I get plenty of protein, from eggs and beans and quinoa and lentils and EVERYTHING, because protein isn’t just in a slab of meat. People are silly!

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Christa September 17, 2013 at 7:02 am

I love that – “protein isn’t just a slab of meat.” People tell me they need protein in their meals and I’m like…well, so do I. Just because it’s not meat doesn’t mean it’s not protein-packed. YUM, quinoa!!! How could I forget about quinoa. It’s a fav.

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