Starting Right with a Vegan Diet: Advice for Moms and Babies    Part 2
Starting Right with a Vegan Diet: Advice for Moms and Babies  Part 2
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Halo, amazing viewers, and welcome to Healthy Living. Perhaps one of most tender and lovely times in a mother’s life is during her pregnancy. While she patiently awaits the arrival of a precious new baby, the concerned mom might begin to ask questions such as, “What is the healthiest diet I can have during my pregnancy?” And “What should I feed my baby when he or she is born?”

According to the American Dietetic Association, the world’s largest association of food and nutrition professionals, “Well-planned vegetarian (or vegan) diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.”

In Hollywood some famous moms-to-be are vegans. For example, American actress and PETA spokesperson Alicia Silverstone has been vegan for 15 years and is now waiting the birth of her first child. While pregnant Ms. Silverstone continues to follow a plant-based diet and often shares her experiences in her blog. Another vegan American actress and animal rights advocate, Emily Deschanel, announced her pregnancy in March 2011. The babies of these vegan celebrities obtain complete nutrition from their mothers and will continue this Earth-friendly diet after birth.

Last week we covered why the vegan diet is best for women who are pregnant. In this week’s program, the conclusion of a two-part series, health care professionals and others will discuss why plant-based foods are also best for infants and children. Breast feeding is the ultimate display of maternal love. Breast milk contains five basic forms of antibodies which strengthen the baby’s immune system and decrease the infant’s susceptibility to allergies. Mother’s milk is the most natural and perfect food for babies.

When the mother is breastfeeding, she must also pay special attention to her food. Because all the food she has consumed, these foods will be circulating in the blood. Then from the blood they will pass into the milk, and afterwards to the baby. So sometimes she may get colic, she may get diarrhea, she may have abdominal pain, then she should avoid these foods: fried foods, fatty foods, and processed foods.

Spirulina is a nutrient that can be taken by everybody, all the time and even by babies. So while weaning at the end of the breastfeeding period, I advise adding spirulina in powdered form in the baby-bottle, in a small quantity.

It must be exclusively breastfeeding until six months of age. And from that moment on, complementary foods are introduced. So it's important that you make this transition safely adding foods that are appropriate for the child. So after six months of age, the soft foods come in. In Brazil it is more common initially to start with fruit, but in some countries, cereals are the first foods to be introduced. So it depends on the approach in each country. None of these ways is wrong.

And gradually, you will introduce the other food groups, so that the child, he will have a meal of mashed fruit and a "salty meal” in quotes, which basically should include some of the food groups. So this baby food must contain: cereals (rice, corn, wheat, rye, quinoa, and so on), beans (any type of beans, including chick-peas, peas, lentils, tofu), and vegetables (zucchini, chayote, bell pepper, kale, arugula, or any other greens of that same group).

It is important that there is some source of oil because we do not do fat restrictions for children until they are two years old, remembering that this fat should be of good quality. So it can be the fat in avocados, olive oil, flaxseed oil, flaxseed itself, which is important as a source of energy and good quality fat. So a dish well-designed for a child, it will contain more or less: 1/ 3rd cereal, 1/ 3rd beans and 1/ 3rd vegetables with the oil integrated into this meal.

After a few months, reaching the seventh, eighth month of life, we begin to enter the second stage of salty soft foods, so that the child has a lunch and a dinner. She has a fruit puree and the remaining feeding is being complemented by breast milk so she keeps a good supply of calcium and all the elements she needs.

There is scientific evidence that consuming animal foods negatively affects the way both children and adults behave as well as their overall mental health status. A study published in the June 2010 edition of the Nutrition Journal found that vegetarians in the US were less likely to suffer from depression and more likely to be in a better mood compared to meat eaters.

This piece of meat which goes into our body is full of suffering and finally people are more and more subject to unexplained anxieties. For instance, we found a very clear link between panic attacks and dairy consumption. From what we know nowadays of physiology, namely of the small intestine – these are proven things, not simple opinions. We know that animal products bring about a high permeability of the intestinal mucous membrane which allows some molecules to penetrate into the blood which normally shouldn’t and this has a direct influence on our brain and hence, on our behavior.

So there are for example, some panic attacks in adults which can be cured simply by eliminating animal products and mainly dairy products. So they are really, purely victims of the nutrition that adults give them. When we see that there are one year old children who drink Coca-Cola, when I see babies eating ham, this is inconceivable. Of course later we have aggression… Actually children cannot, even less so than adults, manage themselves.

When we consider that today six school-age children out of 10 suffer from behavior problems, that’s very alarming. And we notice great improvements already just by changing the diet. So we find ourselves with behavior problems linked to the fact that the brain is very sensitive to the blood composition and to sudden changes.

So what everyone knows are the problems of hypo- and hyperglycemia which our brain cannot bear and they are linked to the industrial food and the fact that we eat cooked, dead, refined foods. Basically, people are deficient in healthy nutrition. So they are no longer nourished, they are stressed out and consequently they’ll eat foods for instant sugar, they’ll smoke and drink alcohol, and when the nervous system is no longer nourished, we become irritable, we become volatile, and we can no longer concentrate.

Without question, the best source of nutrition for children is the vegan diet, and the development of correct eating habits in children must start with the parents.

I have so many tips for vegan moms. It’s really important to walk your walk, to show your kids that you enjoy the food that you’re eating, but also to involve kids in the cooking, and learning about the food process. To share with them why you eat the way you eat in a fun and excited way, like why you’re passionate about eating greens, and grains, and beans, and seeds, what does it for them. But also you have to learn how to cook. You have to be prepared, you have to plan ahead, you have to learn about meal planning.

There is some incredible produce that you can start using. One is sunflower seed butter. Or you can use hemp seed butter, which is actually one of the most nutritious seed butters to use for kids, because it has greater iron content and incredible (levels of) Omega-3s. So adding that to your kids’ diet will really get them the nutrition that they need. So really it’s planning, and making sure that you’re learning how to include your child’s tastes into what food that you’re preparing while still offering them really healthy options.

Since you have a vegan child, do you have advice for vegan children?

The great thing about raising a vegan kid is that they love animals. Children love animals, we teach them to love animals. Every book that you read to a little kid has to do with counting farm animals, or playing with a puppy, so kids like animals. So, it makes perfect sense to them that we would not eat those animals. I have found it’s so easy.

Maria Amélia of Brazil has two adorable, healthy vegan babies. She will now share her experiences as a vegan parent.

I never had to do anything in the two pregnancies, both were delivered vaginally. I left the hospital in two and a half days; I returned to driving after three days. My milk came smoothly, I had enough milk to breastfeed Camila until now, she's six months old and she's only on breast milk. And so, they are super healthy! Pedro never took antibiotics; he is two and a half years old. Pedro is a super agile child, super intelligent, so we are very carefree about it.

Here at home we really like tofu, so every week we make tofu in some way. I bought a cookbook with only tofu recipes, so it's one thing I like.. And today Camila ate her first salty soft food that was made with pumpkin, zucchini, brown rice and beans. She ate it, but in fact, like for everybody else here at home, I think a favorite here is fruit. She ate persimmons and bananas. I think a tip for mothers is to find a pediatrician who supports and respects you because it is indeed possible to have a vegan child from the start.

Supreme Master Ching Hai has also spoken about why a vegan diet is so beneficial for children, as in this May 2009 videoconference in Togo.

Vegetarian babies and children grow up with higher resistance to illness. And from a food allergy perspective, the vegan diet immediately eliminates four out of eight, or 50% of the top known allergens from your child’s diet. These are milk, eggs, fish and shellfish, all of which can cause lifelong or fatal health problems. So, starting our child out in life with a vegan diet could be one of the biggest gifts we can give as parents.

Thank you Marina Barone, Astrid Pfeiffer, Dr. Eric Slywitch, Alexandra Jamieson, and Maria Amélia for sharing your perspectives on wholesome, plant-based eating during pregnancy. May all mothers and children around the world enjoy happy vegan lifestyles.

For more information on today’s experts, please visit the following websites: Marina Barone Dr. Eric Slywitch and Astrid Pfeiffer Alexandra Jamieson

Gracious viewers, thank you for watching this week’s Healthy Living. Coming up next is Science and Spirituality, after Noteworthy News. May all lives be full of joy and energy.
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