Raising my baby on a vegan diet
BONDING OVER TAKING CARE OF OUR BODIES
Like all first-time moms, I knew that good health was the best gift you could give to your baby. What I didn’t know then was that the extent of special nutrition and care I would give Luna would also be the beginning of a lifestyle change for our entire family.
During the early stages of my pregnancy, my doctor discovered a cyst on my left ovary. It had to be operated on to eliminate the risk of cancer, however, we were worried. How safe was it to undergo such a procedure while Luna was developing? Fortunately, I was under the best medical care and Luke and my family were right by my side throughout those agonizing times. If it was not for Luna, we wouldn’t have discovered the cyst and I would still be clueless about how to transform my health.
While I was pregnant, Luke and I were already having these earnest conversations about eating more mindfully. The operation shook us both and we didn’t want to undergo bouts of hospitalization for any of us in the future. So I want to emphasize that, from the start, Luke had a huge role in our transition to a plant-based life.
When Luna was born, she developed a skin allergy that covered her entire body. Our doctors helped us realize that the dairy I was still consuming would trigger Luna’s allergies. It broke our hearts to see her suffering like that, so that was it-- we made a decision to go plant-based, no more half-steps! We were going to raise Luna to be vegan and we were going to make that shift with her. So much information is available about how what we eat is related to our illnesses. We wanted to do it right for Luna.
That was when I discovered a new passion and purpose: preparing healthy meals for the people I love. I studied all kinds of plant-based recipes and I did the meal prep over and over because I was also enjoying the process. That was the time Luke and I also decided to open Seabuds so we could promote our brand of healthy eating to our friends in La Union.
Change can be intimidating but our minds can surpass it if we enjoy the process. I didn’t like to pressure myself about the food prep and about how tired I felt most of the time. I just knew that learning something new was exciting and I really wanted to share that feeling with Luna.
When Luna was ready to take in solid food, I started her with blended oats and mashed bananas or avocados. But I didn’t want to give her blended food all the time so I focused on making mealtimes more fun. I swear by “baby-led weaning” or a process that allowed Luna to explore food on her own. I would place chopped fruits and vegetables in front of her and I allowed her to do whatever her instincts told her to do. I watched her relish the food’s colors and textures. She would hold the pieces, pick them apart, and suck and lick the food to taste all the flavors. This process really sparks a special connection between babies and food. Sometimes, such a connection is lost when you spoon-feed all the time. To us, feeding time was also play time and babies learn best through play.
Through baby-led weaning, I also noticed that Luna learned how to be in control of her food intake. I trusted her that she was full when she stopped eating. She was never picky about food because plant-based food was all she was exposed to; since day one, this was her normal. She would also see us eating the same food so she didn’t have to feel like she was different.
As soon as she was old enough to accomplish small tasks like mixing, we let her join the process of preparing her meals. We also got her a wooden toy kitchen set to encourage her to “practice” kitchen skills like chopping and cleaning. When you start with this attitude of play, you also teach your child to be independent. They also appreciate their food more because they were part of making it.
Luna and I have learned so many fun recipes to do at home. From churning our own peanut butter-- Luna loves peanut butter!-- to chilling our own fresh fruit popsicles, we bond over taking care of our bodies this way.