If you are a vegan then you’re probably already very aware of how people perceive the vegan diet as somehow lacking. Add pregnancy into the mix and everyone is suddenly very concerned about your nutrition and will no doubt give you lots of unsolicited bullshit. Here is the thing though, people are likely going to give you unsolicited bullshit about every decision you make, especially during pregnancy. It’s important to remember that with all of your decisions in life, pregnancy and motherhood, you don’t have to explain them or justify them to anyone.
First thing is first, humans thrive on a plant-based diet, including pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as babies and children. Where do vegans get their protein and iron from? The same place as horses, elephants, rhinos, gorillas and cows…from plants. We’re sure you are bored of that question too! It is absolutely okay to shut those conversations down if they aren’t serving you. It’s okay to say “That’s actually none of your business” and leave it there. It’s okay to make people feel awkward by putting your boundaries in place, because they are yours and their reaction is not your concern. This boundary-setting is useful in all areas of life.
Often the road to becoming vegan is made of lots of questioning, unlearning and then learning again. The same could be said for women who are planning anything other than jumping on the conveyor belt of medicalised birth. Each has challenged their socialisation on the subject, questioned what they had been taught about it, from that critical place they have dug deeper and decided to go their own way based on what feels right. This skill will continue to be necessary throughout pregnancy, birth and motherhood. We love supporting vegan mothers, because you don’t just accept what you’re being told by society, friends or family and the media, you already have the critical skills you’ll need to have an autonomous pregnancy and birth. If you are able to stand firm in your veganism during pregnancy with pressure from all angles, you’ll have no problem saying no to the parts of the medical system that don’t serve you, or putting your boundaries in place throughout motherhood.
Here at Greater Manchester Doulas CIC, we don’t just support you, we think you’re bloody fantastic! GMD’s Directors Amy and Elle are both vegan and for us it is closely linked to the work we do with women. Admittedly, we’re not very good at shouting about this element of ourselves because it’s so normal to us we forget to mention it. We know that if you’re vegan and looking for support or someone to chat to during your pregnancy or motherhood journey, you probably don’t want to be answering those same old questions or justifying your lifestyle choices. You might also just want somewhere to vent all of your frustrations with the non-vegan world – we can hold that space for you. We want you to know that you are in good company here, and if you ever come along to one of our community groups there will always be plant milk for brews and any food we supply will be vegan. When we are choosing a venue for a group, we’re always looking at the menu to make sure there are plenty of vegan options available, and when we can we use completely vegan venues in order to support those businesses (plus who doesn’t love a fully-vegan menu?!).
So, if you’re a vegan mother, we’d love to meet you! If you are currently pregnant or planning to be in the future, it’s never too early to get in touch with us. And if you are a vegan woman who doesn’t have kids and doesn’t intend on having any, but you’d like to build on your support network – we want to meet you too! We support women of all ages, at any stage of life, and we know that veganism comes hand in hand with the challenges of living in a non-vegan society so if you need somewhere to vent – we are here.
Keep doing what you’re doing, following your intuition and your values. Hopefully we’ll see you soon!