Written by Donat a/k/a The Vegan Hubby
With our baby’s due date fast approaching, we are getting lots of questions about what foods the baby will eat. Will we feed the baby meat and dairy or will we deprive him/her of so many time-honored foods?
Food is such an interesting thing, it honestly fascinates me. Being extraordinarily hungry since birth, I can’t go more than a few hours without food unless I want my stomach to start pondering which neighboring organs would be most filling. Needless to say, a large part of my life revolves around food. However, now that a baby is soon to come into our lives, we have to decide not only what we eat but also what another human being who is yet incapable of making decisions will be eating. I feel that this is a very important responsibility and I take it seriously. So what will we be feeding our newborn?
Thankfully, the first 6 months of food-related decision making has basically been taken care of by both nature and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Babies are recommended to be exclusively breastfed until 6 months, and significantly supplemented with afterwards. Once the baby is 6 months old, solid foods are introduced one at a time to reduce the chances of any allergic reactions. These first foods will be grains, vegetables and fruits, regardless of whether the parents are vegans or not. Eventually the kids will move on to bigger and more complex foods. So what about the eggs, milk, cheese and meats that we remember growing up eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
I remember back when I first stopped drinking milk and tried substitutes like soy milk instead I met with a lot of resistance. My parents took one sip of the soy milk and said, “Nope, that’s not milk!” and dismissed it forever. This got me thinking, what did that have to do with anything? Why were they focused on how it did not taste like the very arbitrary taste of milk that they are used to? I don’t think anyone first tries milk and thinks it’s the most delicious thing on the planet. It might taste better or worse to each person but it really is a completely subjective taste, which we eventually get used to and becomes the baseline for what to expect. It’s like if instead of apples, one wanted to replace recipes with pears and after one taste they say, “Nope, that’s not an apple.” It’s not supposed to be. The milk was never the end result for me anyway but rather an intermediary or middleman. It made eating cereal more pleasant, it allowed me to make pancakes, etc. I actually found a number of recipes turned out better if I used water instead of milk like oatmeal, which I hated as a kid but eat constantly now.
So how many of our foods do we eat just because we got used to them as kids? There’s nothing wrong with that because like I said earlier, food is an amazing thing and is more than just calories. Lots of foods we ate in childhood become comfort foods as adults. It’s just that when people incredulously declare that it’s terrible that our kids will not get to enjoy all of the different foods that they enjoyed as kids, I think they are looking at it through a rather restricted lens. I eat so many things now that my family never even knew existed and so our kids will also be eating a large variety of foods that will become comfort foods of their own. Not to toot our own horn but our diet has so much more variety than almost anyone I’ve ever met. It is true that our kids will not be eating the same fried eggs, bacon and sausage that I grew up with and my family continues to eat. Instead, they will have a diverse mix of grains, legumes, fruits, veggies and mushrooms that I would have never dreamed of as a kid. To replace the fried potatoes and chicken, they will have homemade Asian stir-fry, Indian vegetable curry, Mexican style fajitas, vegan sushi and miso soup, just to name a few. Not a bad trade off honestly.
After much though and consideration, we have definitively decided on feeding our kids a vegan diet. It will significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the risks of exposure to salmonella and E. Coli, which disturbingly large numbers of kids get each year in the U.S. It will provide them with infinitely more vitamins and minerals than a conventional diet and we will make sure their macros are on track too. They can learn the pleasures of greens and enjoy the better immune systems, energy levels and BMI’s that come with them. Basically, it will give them a good foundation to start with and they can find their own path once they get older.
Do you have any opinions or similar stories on the matter? Let me know in the comments. 🙂