Vegetarian diet, or not?

Beck - posted on 10/09/2010 ( 26 moms have responded )

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I am interested to know the pros and cons and especially what people think of breastfeeding on a vegetarian diet. I had someone say to me that a vegetarian diet is better for your baby if breastfeeding, but this information came from a vegetarian cook book for goodness sakes! Needles to say I found the info against it and got him to shut up, but still I am interested to know what others think.

This is not a bag out against vegetarians so I don't want to see attacking on either points

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Petra - posted on 10/09/2010

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Having been a strict vegan for several years, and defecting and going back to eating meat about 3 years ago, I can say that an educated and careful vegan is no more or less healthy than an educated and careful non-vegan or non-vegetarian. I had to work really, really hard at cooking and planning meals as a vegan and, not being much of a cook, my health suffered. I face the same obstacles now that I eat meat again - only its a helluvalot easier to find a quick fix since I can eat whatever happens to be on the menu. But human omnivores who pay no attention to dietary intake aren't any better than vegans who don't pay attention to what they eat - a lovely, balanced vegan dinner is certainly healthier than a T-bone or McDonalds, but meat eaters who make a real effort to eat healthy are just as good to their bodies as vegetarians or vegans who make this same effort.

Minnie - posted on 10/15/2010

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Candi, it is true that children need fat, but fat can be gained from other sources than bovine milk. We don't have a symbiotic relationship with cows.



For the record, both of my girls are thin. My four year old weighs less than most two year olds. I am thin, so is my husband and so is our family. Our girls are active, healthy, happy intelligent children. There is a range of body types and some people are allowed to be at the bottom of that. It isn't because we don't consume dairy. I am still breastfeeding my two year old and my four year old occasionally nurses but she is able to get fat from other sources: there are 14 grams of fat in one tablespoon of olive oil. It's not hard.

Stasia - posted on 10/10/2010

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When you are a vegetarian you have to put a lot of thought or preparation into your food to ensure it is healthy, well balanced and available. Since being a vegetarian I find myself MORE health conscious and aware of all the foods I am eating. There are a lot less vegetarian junk foods as well so I believe that is an asset to the vegetarian breastfeeding mother.

It is too bad anyone would say you are harming your child by eating meat. Whether you eat meat or not is not the issue, the issue is the quality of food you are eating. whether that includes animal products or not.

Minnie - posted on 10/10/2010

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While I wouldn't choose to eat animal products myself, you are not harming your baby by eating meat while breastfeeding. There is truly very little difference across the board regarding milk quality unless, like I said earlier, the mother is very malnourished.

[deleted account]

My parents are both vegetarian for health reasons. They eat fish, but they don't eat meat because they feel that the risks outweigh any nutritional benefit.



I'm vegetarian too because I object to how the food industry treats animals. I'm not against killing an animal for food, but I am against factory farming, packing animals into a crates to transport them for days and then killing them on an assembly line in the presence of other animals awaiting the same fate.



I choose to eat a vegetarian diet because it allows me to eat all the same food groups as a meat eater without the cruelty. I was able to have a healthy pregnancy and provide breastmilk for all of the babystage of life because I eat all the same food groups as anyone who eats meat. I would even go as far as to say that my diet is healthier than most meat eaters because I make a conscious effort to include what I need and cut out what I don't.

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26 Comments

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Beck - posted on 10/19/2010

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I'm genuinly surprised aty the amount of vegetarians, goodness me I'm a little more self involved than i thought lol. I'm glad to see real info coming out :)

Stasia - posted on 10/14/2010

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I agree! Fat is so important for proper brain development! It is more the environmental impact that drew me to vegetarianism, because I do believe consuming meat products can be equally as healthy!

Candi - posted on 10/14/2010

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Stasia, I used to tell my friend all the time to give her toddler whole milk and she absolutely refused! She said it was like drinking yogurt! I hope she doesn't wonder why her then 4 yr old daughter was underweight and skinnier than my normal weight 3yr old. Kids need the fat in milk. We only drink whole milk, real butter, meat, etc. You'd think with all that we should look like weeble wobbles. Not true. We are all a healthy weight and no allergies. I guess we are just lucky

Stasia - posted on 10/14/2010

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Candi, Perhaps the reason these people you mentioned are health nuts is because their allergies have led them to be more conscious of what they eat?
Everyone in my family eats meat and I do not, and I don't think I am at any more risk of allergies, and neither are they I dont think the two are related. Interesting observations though.

As far as giving a child skim milk? That isn't healthy for a toddler so Im assuming you mean an older child? Because our diet is low in animal fats, I give my children whole milk and full fat yoghurt. I don't know why someone would give skim?

LaCi - posted on 10/14/2010

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"we eat everything in my family and the only allergies in my family are to mosquitoes :)"

Thats so weird. I have horrible reactions to mosquito bites but I never knew there was a real allergy to it! guess now I know. thanks.

We both have (pollen, etc) allergies now, I think nico does as well. But I really don't think it has to do with diet, it has to do with the area we live in. Everyone, EVERYONE, develops allergies here after a certain amount of time. Disgusting air in the valley. No food allergies though.

Candi - posted on 10/13/2010

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I was just curious. My husband and I both come from long lines of meat eaters and nobody in either family has allergies and we just see so many people now who are health nuts, and it seems they are allergic to themselves! One of my friends has 4 kids and they are allergic to everything under the sun. They may as well live in a plastic bubble, but I think they may be allergic! Maybe its just paranoid parents sanitizing too much and killing good germs along with the bad and just weakening their kids' immune systems

Isobel - posted on 10/13/2010

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we eat everything in my family and the only allergies in my family are to mosquitoes :)

Minnie - posted on 10/13/2010

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Who knows the reason, Candi? Bovine proteins are pretty allergenic themselves. But we don't eat any animal products in our family, and only my husband has allergies- to ragweed pollen.

Candi - posted on 10/13/2010

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I breastfed 3 kids and I am a meat eater! My whole family eats meat, but we all get more than enough fruits and veggies. We never fry anything. I do have one comment, and I hope not to get attacked by stating this. I don't know everybody, but the people I know who are raising vegetarian children on skim or % milks have lots of allergies. Maybe its just the kids I have seen and I am not saying anything negative about the vegetarians. My daughter often tells me she wants to be a vegetarian as she is eating a big slab of bacon or a fat piece of fish! I have to remind her that Fish is meat also and yes it comes from an animal. Kids are too funny

Jane - posted on 10/12/2010

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I agree with most of the other posts really - provided the overall diet is healthy with the right nutrients, including protein (if veggie then can get this from nuts and things like Quorn) then there is no issue with a vegetarian or non-vegetarian diet.

BTW - I'm definitely NOT a vegetarian as I love my meat far too much, but mother is a veggie and has been for years as she doesn't like meat, but she's never forced her choices onto me.

[deleted account]

I agree that a woman can breastfeed her baby while on a vegan or vegetarian diet as long as she's still getting all the proper vitamins and minerals herself. I was just discussing something similar to this with my aunt the other day because my son is going through a "meat strike" and there are times when in a week he only gets maybe 2 or 3 bites of meat (because I sneak them in). I just make sure he still gets lots of beans or eggs for protien and then a good mix of other fresh veggies (dark leafy greens, carrots, that sort of thing) and a good mix of fruit. For now, he's never met a vegetable he doesn't like so I guess I'm lucky...for now....he's only 3 so time will tell lol! I mean if I think about it, some of the healthiest people I know are vegetarians. It's possible to survive and thrive without meat.

LaCi - posted on 10/12/2010

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We're vegetarians. My son is essentially a vegetarian, I don't monitor what he eats at his grandparents. He will eat chicken nuggets on occasion, but other than that he refuses to eat meat when he's out of the house. I don't think that there are any specific health benefits for a kid to not eat meat, I think our lifestyle is healthy though. It's not all about vegetarianism, there's virtually no junk food, most everything is homemade, no artificial anything, so on. He's healthy and happy, it works for us. I don't see any benefits from a kid eating meat, so in my opinion neither is necessarily "better." You can be a vegetarian and consume mass amounts of chips, sodas, cookies, etc, and it's not going to be healthy. vegetarian or not, the diet just needs to be healthy.



Honestly, I felt healthiest when I tried veganism. It was just too time consuming. Had I had more time and money I would have raised him vegan.



Anyway, a healthy diet may or may not involve eating meat. For us, it's meatless.

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I was a vegetarian for a long time, not while a mother though. It was the healthiest time of my life! As long as the person is smart about eating it doesn't really matter.

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I don't believe that any breastfeeding mother is harming their baby with any food choice. As long as they are sufficiently well nourished to produce the milk then I don't see how it could be harmful. Even though I'd guess that most vegetarians are healthier than socoiety at large, that doesn't mean that eating meat is unhealthy. Some meat eaters and some vegetarians choose healthy food, but some don't. It doesn't matter what source we use to get food groups into our bodies as long as we get them.

Beck - posted on 10/10/2010

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just to edit what i was told, I re read it and he actually makes the comment that I am HARMING my baby if I breastfeed on a meat based diet.

Stifler's - posted on 10/10/2010

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There's nothing wrong with a vegetarian diet as long as you have enough milk for the baby and aren't deficient in any vitamins or minerals.

April - posted on 10/09/2010

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Lisa, thank you for pointing out that "the woman has to be quite malnourished for the quality of her milk to suffer". I am gonna show that to my mother. she's always ragging on me, saying that I don't eat well enough to nurse my son (but glad she cares because she's also on my case about weaning. it never ends)

Minnie - posted on 10/09/2010

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I eat a vegan diet. I have breastfed two children, and currently a two year old and occasionally a four year old. My children eat a vegan diet as well.



Considering which diet is 'better' for breastfeeding, well, milk-nutrition-wise a woman has to be quite malnourished for the quality of her milk to suffer.

Ary - posted on 10/09/2010

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Agreed, Petra. I tried going vegan for awhile, but I just love my sushi too much. And, tbh, being a vegan is EXTREMELY difficult without a LOT of planning. You not only have to know the ingredients to everything you put in your mouth, but you also have to know the source of said ingredients. My diet is now pesco-vegetarian, which is a much easier alternative. Bottom line is, you do have to plan healthy meals whether you choose to eat meat or not. Any diet can be healthy or unhealthy, regardless of whether or not it contains animal products.

[deleted account]

I'd say as long as the mother is eating plenty of beans etc. to get the protein she's missing out on in meat there shouldn't be much difference. What I don't agree with is a parent forcing their child to be vegetarian or vegan. My mam's lodger is vegan and isn't healthy at all - she's always ill and looks like a ghost...no other way of putting it!

Dawn - posted on 10/09/2010

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I think that as long as the mother is healthy and getting all the recommended nutrients then it is fine to be a vegetarian and breastfeed. I am against pushing vegetarianism or veganism on young children because I think many times needed nutrients are lost (B12 being the biggest as far as I have read) and I also feel this is an individual choice that should ultimately be made by the child.

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