Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

survival foods June 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mama @ 11:08 am

i started thinking about this as i was writing a post for raven’s eye blog.

but i wanted to bring it into this space:

i personally understand that eating meat is a survival issue sometimes for some of us.  i dont need animal products to be healthy.  but i did when i was pregnant.  and what is our response as vegans to those because of interlocking reasons do need animal products for their survival and healthy growth?

let me try to flesh this out…(excuse the pun)…………

because a lot of my work over the passed few years has focused around reproductive health and women of color, it is specifically women of color whom i am referencing.

i know folks who need to eat meat in order to be healthy.  i used to think that this was one of those omnivore myths since i heard it so often when i was first making conscious choices about my diet as a teenager.  but all of my assumptions got twisted around when i became pregnant.  and all of a sudden i *needed* animal protein.  now let me say that i vehemently disagree with the faddish obsession with protein in the pregnancy/birth world.  i do not think that there is a certain amount of protein that every woman needs in order to have a ‘healthy’ pregnancy birth.  i reject such essentialistic prescription for the human being.  especially for the pregant body.  but i did *feel* an intense need for animal protein.  and i felt so much better after i had eaten it.  keeping in mind that by the time i got pregnant i had basically been vegetarian/vegan for more than a decade.

the vegetable protein that i had usually loved just wasnt cutting it.  actually a lot of it (like nuts and certain soy products and beans) made me feel ill.

now i want to also emphasize that i am talking about the vegetable protein that was *available*.  i would have loved to have been able to experiment more to find foods that were both vegan and not nauseating.  but the big natural foods stores were on the other side of town.  we lived in north minneapolis (scary…black…ghetto…)and whole foods and its ilk were in south minneapolis (hipster…white…).  furthermore we were on a tight budget.  having been kicked out of a country and trying to build an entire life in a city i knew nothing about.

i have talked to other hard core vegan mothers who say that they *had* to eat meat during their pregnancies. and i have talked to others who because of their health cannot sustain themselves without animal protein.

what do we as vegans of color say to them?  what do we say to lil pregnant me?

i mean i know that here we say that we cannot afford to be single issue.  and i know that a lot of us struggle to be vegan while being working class, of color, queer, etc. and i know that we want to live in a world where vegan food is accessible to our people.

but do we as vegans of color have a responsibility and accountability to those who cannot afford, in terms of money, health, time, etc., to be vegan?


82 Responses to “survival foods”

  1. My sister had a healthy, happy pregnancy as a lacto-ovo vegetarian. No, she wasn’t vegan, but neither did she *need* to eat dead animals.

    I strongly disagree with the claim that anyone *needs* to eat dead animals in order to be healthy. That’s simply mistaken.

    That said, I know plenty of people who *think* they need to eat dead animals in order to be healthy.

    What do I say to them? I encourage them to learn more and to make TRULY educated decisions about their health and their diets. I don’t condemn or criticize people for being ignorant or otherwise lacking skills or resources. Instead, I try to change that situation so they no longer lack information, skills, or resources. I do that as best as I know how.

    Regarding veganism during pregnancy:
    “Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence.”
    source: the American Dietetic Association, regarded as nutrition experts,
    More resources:

    • mama Says:

      i dealt a lot with essentialistic totalizing attitudes toward the body like yours while i was pregnant. before i was pregnant i found myself saying the same sort of “i have a friend who xyz in her pregnancy’ and “NO ONE needs xyz”. and if you just follow xyz diet you’ll be fine.
      and if you just had more information then obviously you would engage in xyz lifestyle, food choice, etc.
      well, of course, these essentialistic notions only continue to re-affirm that there are standard (idealized) bodies, standard pregnancies and thus (obviously) there are standard (idealized) diets that match these standard bodies.
      and what i am interrogating is if we, as vegans of color, have an alternative vision or analysis to this hierarchy of bodies. a vision that does not simply replace one idealized body or diet for another.
      and while i present this as a theoretical question. for the women with whom i have worked this is a question about how do we define our own health.
      and i am asking these questions open endedly. i am not starting with the premise that veganism is the answer. no matter the question that i ask.
      nor am i assuming it is simply a matter of education. no the women whom i am speaking of (myself included) are well educated about veganism and the incredible plethora of options that are (potentially) available.
      i have been thinking about posting this question to vegans of color for nearly a year. and have not done so because i wasnt confident about *how* to ask the question.
      is it possible to not *think* that that one needs animal foods, but that one does need them?
      or is veganism always the answer?

      • This is a tough conversation for me. I was pregnant and just gave birth a few months ago. There are women who can achieve a vegan pregnancy. I was not one of them. I had no idea I would not be able to stomach legumes and many of my cruciferous veggies. I transitioned into vegetarianism during my pregnancy and ate organic free range eggs several times a month. Eating legumes literally made me physically sick. I know there are people who will yell at me and judge me, but hey, that is their thang and what they feel compelled to do. I do want to be careful in suggesting that a vegan diet is ideal for everyone on this entire planet. I have a close friend who has MS and used to be a vegetarian until he had to change his diet and take out all legumes, gluten, and dairy. In all honesty, how could veganism work for him and his illness of MS and Celiac disease? He was a hardcore vegetarian for 14 years and had no idea that he would ever transition out of it until he got incredibly ill at the end of last year and was diagnosed with MS and Celiac Disease. In researching diets for healing these, he came across restrictions of no legumes, gluten, most grains and dairy. Like I said, this is a tough conversation , but I am one of those people who don’t want to say that one way of living is “ideal” and “safe” for ALL people. I simply do not have enough information or experience to say what all people should be doing in terms of diet. I can only practice what I believe in, to the best of my ability, and share why I do what I do, but can’t really do much more. I read and read and read. I discuss on forums, but I can never really know if veganism is the ultimate end-all-be-all answer for everyone.

      • Derek Says:

        I’ve been a vegetarian for the last 8 years, and spent most of my later teen years as a vegetarian as well. Part of the reason for it is that I don’t want to exploit animals, but the primary reason is that I just have a weak stomach. Eating dead flesh just wigs me out.

        But some time ago, I decided to start working out and trying to build some muscle. When I first started to lift my muscles took forever to repair. My wounds would take forever to heal. And I felt lethargic and sick a lot of the time. It dawned on me that something was seriously wrong.

        So I began doing some research on the topic, and discovered that other than water, protein is the most dominant other substance in the human body. I discovered that without animal protein my body could not produce Vitamin E to heal my skin, ligaments, and muscles. Without Vitamin B12 my body could not produce red blood cells, which were necessary to deliver vital nutrients to my body to allow it to heal. And I discovered that body builders consume an equal number of grams of protein to their weight in pounds. In short, a 200 pound body builder would consume 200 grams of protein. I started to look at my vegetarian diet and saw that I was consuming about 20 grams of protein. It was obvious that something was wrong.

        I did some more research and found that a lot of body builders will consume proteins that are quickly and easily digested (unlike meat) and can quickly go to work healing the body. The primary proteins that’s used in a refined whey protein powder. It comes from a dairy source, but it is vegetarian friendly. Two scoops of this stuff mixed with a glass of water gives you about 50 grams of protein.

        When I first drank the stuff, it was obviously a bit gross tasting, and had the consistency of glue. But literally within a minute of drinking it I could feel it going to work in my blood stream.

        I have used this stuff ever since, and have had great results with it. I haven’t been working out much in the last few months with all the work I have to do with my new home, but before I bought the place I was able to bench 180 pounds, the lethargy went away, and my mood improved.

        I’ve found that when I didn’t work out, consuming a quarter of my body weight in grams of protein was enough to keep me feeling healthy.

        I figured I’d drop that in there.

  2. Maggie Says:

    I am not a vegan of color, or a vegan, or a woman of color, but I am an environmentalist who ponders the same type of question.

    Lifestyle x is not necessarily the answer for everyone. In terms of veganism, some people simply cannot be one. Dietary/health needs, income, the body burden of growing a child, limited vegan food–these things may make it difficult for veganism to be their answer.

    Similarly, living sustainably is not something everyone can do. My cause is to reduce the amount of disposable plastic in my life, and it is both disheartening and humbling to recognize that not everyone can do the same. Some people need prescriptions that come in plastic. I need contact solution. Some people do not have the income or the time to research and buy stainless steel/glass food containers, to-go ware, kitchen supplies. A few dollars for a box of Ziploc bags is the reality of some. And who am I to judge?

    I have only posted a handful of times about how to forego plastic on my blog, and I try to be as conscious as I can to pick subjects that most people can do, not just those with a six-figure salary.

    The only conclusion I’ve made is that it is impossible and unreasonable to expect *everyone* to conform perfectly to lifestyle X. It is also unreasonable and inhumane to shun those who simply cannot. We will get nowhere if we put ourselves and our causes on such a high pedestal that we cannot have compassion for the people who do not embrace lifestyle X. (And I’m definitely not saying that you are. But we both probably know people who do this.)

    It is my hope that my cause encourages others to think critically about the products they buy encased in plastic. And, if that leads them to change their lifestyle, even if it’s only one thing, I will be happy. Maybe this approach can work for the vegan cause too?

  3. supernovadiva Says:

    ok i’ll come clean with this because i felt ashamed of it and still wholeheartedly support women to stay true to themselves while pregnant. i was hardcore ready to have a veg pregnancy and child. had books and everything. but my child had something different in mind. she wanted chicken. i tried substitutes and failed. the gutteral urge was still there. i had to give away my tofu because i couldn’t stomach it. i ate mostly veg through my pregnancy but that chicken thing bothered me. yeah i was passionate in an earlier post. you can be vegan if your baby cooperates and deliver a healthy child.
    this is where there’s a line drawn with childless vegs and parents. the childless ones, like i was, is armed with 2nd hand knowledge of pregnancy and birth (combined). but when you’re in it, things can change that you never thought would change. the important thing is you do whats best for you and your baby. i had a sense of being ‘with’ my growing child. whatever she needed she could have. nothing else mattered. it bothers me when outside sources are just negative towards a new mom, rather if she wants to stay vegan or give birth from home and so on. i was harassed by the medical establishment during my pregnancy. my diet was mostly veg except for occational chicken carcass. i couldn’t eat normal breakfast foods. had to make a big pot of hot curry soup to eat in the mornings or i had refried bean burritos and green drinks. the smell of chocolate made me sick and i loved chocolate before. things change when there’s someone else making the decisions for you. well i can say now my child mostly eat vegan (i’m in a mixed food home). she loves her vegetables. she loves her chicken too. she will make her own decisions when she grows up. i hve the literature waiting for her if she has questions.
    i whole heartedly agree with breeze. i can’t say being veg is for everyone. i may thrive off it but i’m not everybody. i may get a lot of hate for this and i’m ok with that. i have a beautiful, smart little girl to enjoy. nothing tops that.

  4. supernovadiva Says:

    i must add this: i don’t want this to be a SEE! you need meat thing. i know of meat eating women who couldn’t eat meat while pregnant, women who drank tons of milkshakes, some who couldn’t eat cheese and one lady who ate raw flour while pregnant. my mom ate tons of strawberries. one friend of mine had to have a particular ice cream. hormones are crazy while pregnant.

    • I didn’t read it as that, Supernovadiva. I knew what you meant 🙂

      • mama Says:

        @supernovadiva and breeze harper
        i can really relate to your stories. i too could not stomach legumes (also nuts and seeds made me ill). but after i gave birth, like 3 days after, i wanted beans and leafy greens again.

        something funny: i had a homebirth midwife (had delivered over 150 babies) during my pregnancy. and she (because she thought i wasnt eating nearly *enough* protein) kept trying to convince me to eat more legumes. and nuts. and that if i did i wouldnt feel so nauseous all the time. and i kept telling her trust me if i could – i would.
        but then at the end of my pregnancy she got pregnant for the first time. and she was complaining of nausea in her 4th and 5th month. and i was like: oh have tried u eating more nuts. and she shakes her head and says: they make me sick!
        and i just smiled.

        and neither am i saying: ha! you need to animal food. no. actually i am holding out that there are certain types of plant based protein that i could have eaten, but that i could not access at the time during my pregnancy. if i do have another child i really want to be able to eat vegan during the entire pregnancy.

        also my kid is raised in a mixed-diet household (although mainly vegan). and even though it is legend in my pro-meat-eating-black southern family about how even from a young age i didnt like meat, she loves chicken. and fresh strawberries. and eggs. and raw hummus. and taamaya (egypts tastier version of falafel).

  5. purpletigron Says:

    I would urge any vegan who is having problems with their diet to speak to a vegan-friendly qualified dietician. (Note – in the UK at least, anyone can call themselves a ‘nutritionist’ but there are regulated qualifications to call oneself a dietician).

    If you cannot find a vegan-friendly qualified dietician, please contact Sandra Hood, author of ‘Feeding your vegan infant with confidence’ (which also covers pre-parenthood for men and women, and pregnancy) care of The Vegan Society ( Sandra will help individual vegans on a voluntary basis if they are unable to get advice from a vegan-friendly qualified dietician in any other way.

  6. Alicia Says:

    I already know my response is going to offend someone but I simply can’t hold my tongue on this one. Especially as a nutritionist. This is total b.s. I mean 300% hardcore b.s. You ate meat because you wanted to eat meat. Plant based sources of protein are not only adequate but more than ideal and will get you all the protein you need, pregnant or not, with little to no effort of thought.

    American’s have a sick obsession with protein. The fact is that most omnivore’s get almost 3 times the amount of protein they need a day and most vegetarians/vegans get up to 2 times more than they need a day. Meaning, that if you got pregnant and maintained the same way of eating that you did before you were pregnant chances are you’re still eating too much protein. Your feelings and actual science, unfortunately, don’t match up.

    Animal protein does not equal healthy. In fact, increased consumption of animal protein leads to leaching of calcium from your bones. As a pregnant woman your calcium supplies are already being depleted by the baby so why would you increase that depletion by adding animal protein? This whole conversation just disgust me. All I’m hearing are excuses to eat meat. I’m sorry, I won’t sit back and let it be written that eating meat while pregnant is necessary or healthy(ier). I agree with Elaine on this one. You have to educate yourself. And this goes for everyone, vegan or not. People should know more about how their bodies work and what they should really be putting into them. And I have to say it is downright irresponsible to change your diet based on a feeling rather than educating yourself or going to a dietitian to find out if what you are experiencing is just a feeling or if it is based in some sort of fact.

    An invaluable resource that I think all vegans should read is Becoming Vegan written by two registered dietitians who really know their stuff. The book goes through veganism for every stage of life, activity level, body composition and nutrient concern, etc. It has a great section on pregnancy and childhood nutrition as well.

    To address the last line of your post I have this to say: I have been out of work for 11 months now and living off of food stamps for the last 6 months. The budget is more than tight. In fact, I laugh at sayin the word budget since it implies there is some money there to work with! But I manage to eat a healthy, balanced vegan diet with no problem. Black eyed peas and rice, spicy pinto beans and rice, black bean soup, etc. all cost me no more than $4 to make a meal for 4-6 people. Not to mention chili with cornbread, spaghetti with chickpeas, etc. Beans, rice, frozen/canned fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds don’t only exist at whole foods and in fact are cheaper at traditional grocery stores. I’ve even managed to make a couple amazing meals from the food that was at the local gas station mini mart. They weren’t elaborate, or all that fun to talk about but they were tasty, filling and at the very least i met my nutritional needs for the day.

    I will add, however, that I am very lucky to have transpotation and a whole foods within 15 miles of me so after all my staple foods shoping is done, if I have a little money left on my EBT card, I get to head down to whole foods and try some of the new vegan offerings or splurge on vegan yogurt or something like that. Thank God whole foods takes food stamps!

    • Hi Alicia. I read Becoming Vegan, literature by PCRM for vegan pregnancies, researched using the UC Davis online library system to find articles about plant-based pregnancies, and read Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven. I’m wondering what you would suggest to someone like myself who became physically ill from legumes, as well as kale and other cruciferous veggies I was eating? I understood what I was supposed to do yet my body could not physically handle legumes, kale, collards, etc. I paid attention to Susun Weed’s Childbearing Year, taking in herbs to help me with morning sickness and having a better appetite. I exercised everyday. Yet still, I could not eat a plethora of plant based foods I have relied on for years, to give me what I needed. I had a BMI of 18 when I got pregnant. I struggled with weight gain my entire pregnancy– and this is someone who is getting a PhD in Nutritional Geography.

      This conversation reminds me of a peer reviewed journal article that I read a few years ago. It’s called Moral logic and logical morality: Attributions of responsibility and blame in online discourse on veganism
      byPetra Sneijder and Hedwig F.M. te Molder (See below). I have the article if anyone wants to read it. I didn’t completely agree with the article, but the overall content resonates with this discussion, I think.

      Journal: Discourse & Society, Vol. 16, No. 5, 675-696 (2005)
      Wageningen University

      Abstract: In this article we draw on the methods developed by conversation analysis and discursive psychology in order to examine how participants manage rules, fact and accountability in a specific ideological area. In particular, we focus on how participants in online discussions on veganism manage the problem posed by alleged health threats such as vitamin deficiency. We show how speakers systematically attribute responsibility for possible deficiencies to individual recipients rather than veganism. The analysis focuses on a conditional formulation that participants use in response to the recurrent question about supposed health problems in a vegan diet (for example: if you eat a varied diet, there shouldn’t be any problems). This specific construction presents the absence of health problems as a predictable fact, depending on individual practices. The use of a script formulationtogether with a modal expressionenables participants to blend morality with logic, and thereby to indirectly attribute responsibility and blame to individual rule-followers. The modal construction (including qualifications as certainly, easily and in my opinion) also allows speakers to display a concern for saying no more than they can be sure of, thus enhancing the trustworthiness of their accounts. It is suggested that this way of managing rules and accountability may also be found in and relevant for other (than) ideological domains.

      Key Words: accountability • blame attribution • discursive psychology • ideological discourse • veganism

      Discourse & Society, Vol. 16, No. 5, 675-696 (2005)
      DOI: 10.1177/0957926505054941

    • How incredibly self-righteous.

      How is any one of us qualified to determine what is ‘adequate’ at any stage of life for a person whom we have yet to meet in real life?

      Alicia, have you carried a fetus to term?

      Because I find it hard to believe that a woman who has been pregnant would suggest that it is OK for another woman to spend 9 months uncomfortable and/or violently ill when the alternative that would allow her to maintain a level of health and well-being is unacceptable, solely because that alternative exists outside of your personal ideology.

      It astounds me that there are people who can find a way to have compassion for sentient beings but cannot extend it to their own species.


      • Alicia Says:

        Melissa perhaps you should read my statement when you are calm because it is clear you did not read it fully. I asserted that she ate meat because she wanted to eat meat. Nothing more nothing less. As human beings we are all possessed with free will and can do what we want when we want to. I just wish that people would just fess up and say “I wanted to eat meat so I ate it”. I’m not going to concede that eating meat as a vegan is an ok thing to do when it’s not and I’m not going to concede that it is medically or nutritionally necessary when it is not. Unless there are allergies to legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains, present (which does occasionally happen) then I can’t sit back and say “oh, it’s ok to eat meat” because it’s not.

        I have compassion for all species, I find it funny that you are so appalled at my words based in fact but can rely so heavily on your own words that are based in pure emotion. If you would have read my statements fully you would’ve seen I did not simply end at adequate but went all to “ideal”. Because there is scientific fact showing that this is true.

        Furthermore, I did not suggest or say that it is ok for a woman to spend 9 months uncomfortable or violently ill. I stated that a plant based diet is more than adequate and ideal for all stages of life including pregnancy. Legumes aren’t the only source of concentrated protein on the earth. There are a variety of nuts, seeds, grains, etc. that are high in protein as well. I think it is important to explore every option. As a vegan, meat is not an option. If it were then I would be an omnivore. For these women meat is an option. I am not here to judge whether or not that makes them a good vegan or a bad vegan but here to say that meat is not necessary for pregnancy and there are plenty of alternatives out there no matter what your aversion is.

        From my own personal experience I have turned to hemp protein, whole nuts and seeds and grains like quinoa, spelt and whole grain whole wheat to get the amount of protein I needed. Incorporated it in smoothies, sauces, whatever I could think of. These are just a small handful of options that are available. I want to make sure that it is understood that there are many many more options out there. Legumes aren’t the only ones.

        The tone of my reply was also more centered around those who would read the article above and think that it was nutritionally or medically necessary to eat meat while pregnant which it is not. The people who post on this site are clearly educated and I would have been more surprised if they said they hadn’t read that book and several others. I find that I get tons of great information (such as the journal article above) from the bloggers on this site. The collective group of thinkers here is amazing! That is why, if you read my reply, you would see that I included caveats about how everyone should do certain things when it comes to knowing about their bodies, health, etc.

    • supernovadiva Says:

      i understand what you’re saying, but i must state again i had all the books and read all the sites ready to be a veg mom. in fact i’ve read that book many times before ever being pregnant and been on that site numerous times when i was toying to be vegan. i was ready. to assume i’m ignorant of the facts is presumptious. i wasn’t looking for excuses.
      what’s positive about my daughter’s birth- it was the ‘click’ to understanding the animal rights issue. no rational mother looks at their child wanting it to suffer. i’m against industrial farming and how it effects animals, farmers, the enviroment, workers and consumers and how a bell pepper can cost as much as a meal at a burger joint.

      • Alicia Says:

        Hey supernovadiva. As I said in my reply to Melissa my response was more a a general response to those who think they need to eat meat to have a healthy pregnancy. The only person I have personally written a response to in regards to this topic is Melissa (and now you!) I’m definitely glad that the birth of your daughter helped you turn the corner. I didn’t originally become vegan for AR reasons and there were various things that helped me have that “click”. And don’t get me started on the bell pepper costing as much as a meal! Argh! Thank God Trader Joe’s takes EBT cards too otherwise i’d have to learn to cook without them! (For those who don’t know trader joes has prechopped frozen bell peppers for something like $1.50 that is the equivalent to abotu 4-5 bell peppers.

  7. Nancy Says:

    It is my understanding that the fetus gets all it needs from the mother, even if the mother is puking 24/7 while pregnant and unable to keep anything down.

    The danger in not eating a proper, well-balanced diet during pregnancy is that it depletes the mother, not the fetus.

    So, I think it’s a bit of a myth to say that the fetus wanted chicken or… I don’t believe that pregnant women who were raised vegan and who’ve never put a morsel of dead animal flesh in their mouths in their lives would start eating meat while pregnant.

    That said, Alicia you referenced Vesanto Melina’s book Becoming Vegan. Yes, Vesanto is probably the top nutrition expert in this area. She is a friend of mine and I know for a fact that her research is impeccable. She will not publish claims she has not researched thoroughly through properly peer reviewed scientific literature. So, you can trust her. However, even Vesanto is not as dogmatic on the subject as you, Alicia. She has told me that some people do not thrive on a properly balanced vegan diet and they do not understand why.

    I think the summary of this discussion is that yes, there may be options and it’s important to be as well-informed as possible and not make decisions just on a feeling. Our “feelings” are influenced by so many things–tradition, culture, our upbringing, the media… But at the same time, we have to respect that people do the best they can with the information they have at the time.

    It’s not right to judge others until we have walked a mile in their moccasins.

    • mama Says:

      well, to be a bit more precise. from my experience, a fetus normally takes everything it needs from the mother, as long as the mother has it. for instance, if the mother is not ingesting any vitamin d, then there is none for the fetus to ‘take’. but the fetus will take all of the vitamin d that it needs. and the rest of the mother’s body will have to make do with the vitamin d that remains after the fetus has taken its share.
      as i said this is ‘normally’. i have talked to mothers who for a variety of health reasons have had to be very conscious of how much they intook of certain foods, because their bodies had the tendency to ‘take’ before the fetus’s body. thus risking that their fetus did not receive certain critical nutrients.
      as for what or whether the fetus can want. ever since i was a child i couldnt stand to eat eggs. couldnt stand the smell of eggs. (frankly becoming vegan for me was not a hard process. i dont like eggs. am lactose intolerant. and never liked most meats…) and then one day i smelt some one cooking eggs in a restaurant and it was like my fetus sent out an apb. i had been feeling sick for weeks. could barely function. and i knew that i needed an omelette. and i felt so much better.
      now are there plant based food that could have caused such an apb. i hope so. did i discover them in my time of being pregnant. no.
      can the body need what it has never experienced?
      i dont know.
      can the body need what it has never needed before?

  8. C Says:

    i have a few questions.

    breeze, how did chicken eggs supplement the nutrition you would have received from legumes and cruciferous veggies (fiber, phyto-nutrients, and the many vitamins and mineral present only in those plant foods)? in other words, why eggs? why not animal flesh? were you just craving chicken eggs or were you advised by some sort of expert that they would supply you with the nutrition you couldn’t get because you couldn’t consume legumes and greens? did you consult an expert? did you try eating greens in smoothies blended with other food your body did not reject? did you try consuming many different types of legumes prepared in many different ways/ did all the legumes you tried to eat make you sick?
    i don’t mean any disrespect, i’m just curious in case i have children at some point. these are real questions that i ask to gain a better understanding.

    also, you’ve written about the intersections of oppressions such as speciesim, racism, classism, etc. how did this understanding fit into your decision to consume eggs from exploited animasl? why use objectifying language such as “organic, free range eggs” when you are aware that they are still the products of exploited animals regardless of the conditions in which they are exploited? i’m curious because you are one of the only writers on this subject that i’m aware of. how do you reconcile you decision to consume chicken eggs given your anti-speciesist/anti-oppression work?

    i’m not trying to make judgements, just gain a better understanding.

  9. mama Says:

    like i said i waited nearly a year to be able to post this. i waited until i thought i could ask the question correctly. but i also waited until i felt i could answer the critique of my and other folks’ dietary decisions.
    i call bullshite right back at you. and my happy healthy gorgeous daughter calls bullshite too.
    before i got pregnant. i was a lot like you. i had these pre-determined essentialistic ideas about what any human body on the planet needed. i was a yoga teacher and midwifery student. i *knew* about bodies and pregnancy. …
    i didnt know shit. and frankly, from your above response, i am understanding that neither do you.
    no amount of research or statistics or scientific data can account for every human body. none. that is the beauty of human diversity.
    so what i am calling on us to ask is our choice to vegan eating require that we deny and erase the stories of vegan mothers of color (3 of them in the past couple of days) in order to uphold a totalizing dogma about the human body?
    and are we simply going to dismantle the content of the rhetoric in favor of the necessity of an omnivore diet.
    or are we going to dismantle the very structure and assumptions of the rhetoric itself?

    • Alicia Says:

      Actually mama, no disrespect but, you’re nothing like me. As you said, we are all different people. I don’t have pre-determined essentialistic ideas about what every human body on the planet needs. What I have is basic information that anyone can get their hands on which is that a plant based diet is ideal for all stages of life. You wanted to eat meat so you ate it.

      By no means does everything apply to all people. But there is a very small percentage of the population who wouldn’t be able to thrive on a plant based diet and that is largely due to allergies and still even in those cases I’ve seen, talked to, and heard the stories of people who are still able to eat a healthy, balanced, plant based diet (I truly tip my hats to them because with all those allergies/medical conditions stacked against them it must’ve taken a strong will and desire to go vegan and stay vegan but most importantly stay healthy).

      Human beings are diverse in many ways but here are a few ways in which they are the same. All humans need water, protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals. Plant based food provide all of these. Meat provides very limited vitamins, no carbs, and very little water. Whereas plants provide water, protein, carbs, fat, vitamins and minerals.

      I’m sorry you feel the need to stoop so low and insult my intelligence. You don’t know me. You don’t know my education or life experience. If you did then you wouldn’t make such grossly ignorant remarks. I enjoy reading the latest and greatest in the field of nutrition, biology and anthropology but book smarts and research can only get you so far. I spend most of my time out in the world, learning from people, taking all i can from their life experience, etc. The anthropologist in me wouldn’t and couldn’t have it any other way.

      Like I said in a previous reply, you ate meat because you wanted to eat meat. On the other hand I am glad that y ou did put that you “felt” that way rather than had an actual nutritional need for meat. It’s important that people who read your article don’t say “oh I HAVE to eat meat while pregnant or it will hurt the baby” because it is untrue. So, I do think in that respect you did a decent job stating your position on the subject. I just really wanted to make sure that anyone skimming through the article didn’t think that meat is necessary for a healthy happy pregnancy because it is not.

      • AoT Says:

        I just want to note that you missed the most important part of mama’s reply to this post: that there may have been alternatives to the meat she ate when pregnant but *she didn’t have access to them*. This exact issue has been discussed here a number of times. It may be, and I’d say it is, entirely possible to live a life without animal products, but it requires access to certain products, and access which many, if not most, people lack, especially women of color.

  10. neva Says:

    Mama, I’m particularly struck by your statement that there are probably good vegan foods that would have worked for you, but you simply couldn’t get them, living where you did and on your budget. I think this really shows that we need to work to expand the vegan selections “normal” stores sell and also work more on vegan food banks, and getting healthy vegan foods out there to the people who need them the most. It’s easy to tell people to be vegan, but if they can’t get a broad selection of healthy vegan foods, they are going to have a tough time of it. We also need to make vegan foods more affordable. Meat and dairy are subsidized with our tax dollars, but not fresh veggies or good vegetable sources of protein.

  11. jspooner Says:

    Im a vegan dad, with a meat eating preggy wife on the way. We ahve some pretty funny conversations. And sometimes argue over some pretty silly things. I can’t control her diet nor would I want to. She is a really healthy eater, sometimes there is meat involved. She accepts me I have to extend the same. Still when it comes to our daughter I’m not sure what were gonna do.
    You can have a laugh at our expense at one of my favorite vegan specific posts is here.

    Im digging this blog btw.

  12. marle Says:

    Hey jspooner, I’m a vegan married to a meat eater too. I also don’t know what we’re going to do when we have kids. I think the plan is he’ll cook meat and I’ll cook vegetables and we’ll let them decide. Of course, when he comes out of the kitchen with chicken nuggets and french fries I think I’ll lose, so we might come up with a better plan when we’re closer to having kids.

    I think whether or not someone is vegan is more about them than their circumstances. I’ve known people who are poor and vegan, people who are gluten intolerant and vegan and even people who are allergic to soy and vegan (I don’t know what I’d do without soy!). I also know someone who was a vegetarian for three years, and then got a turkey (from a grocery store, not a live one) and baked it like it was thanksgiving, and then ate nearly the whole thing in one sitting, just because she felt like it. I never really understood it, but I don’t spend a lot of time trying to understand why meat-eaters eat meat. Honestly, with movies like Bambie, Babe (that pig escape story), and Finding Nemo (“fish are friends, not food”) I don’t know why every kid isn’t trying to be vegetarian. But, whatever.

    • AoT Says:

      Of course, when he comes out of the kitchen with chicken nuggets and french fries I think I’ll lose, so we might come up with a better plan when we’re closer to having kids.

      Unless you counter with Platanos y Frijoles. That will win anyone over to veganity, or whatever word I should use there.

  13. Alicia,

    I read your post fully and would suggest that perhaps it is you that should go back and reread the original post.

    I feel that you are not ‘listening’.

    I believe, in your attempt to make sure that others ‘skimming’ this thread would not get validation that eating meat was ‘necessary’ that you missed the question posed entirely.

    It’s not a matter of “wishing” that a practicing vegan “would just fess up and say ‘I wanted to eat meat so I ate it’ or that a plant-based diet is ‘ideal’ or ‘adequate’, (pregnant or not), but a matter of thinking and being one way and having an entirely different experience, largely out of one’s control.

    Pregnancy, for the most part, is largely out of a woman’s control. It’s not so simple to say that a pregnant woman could just look for a variety of foods to meet needs.

    The issue, as I perceive it from Mama’s original post, is about what happens when it’s not just about you or me making these conscious choices anymore, but about what happens when you, as a woman, become pregnant and find your whole way of thinking and being shattered.

    Because eating during pregnancy isn’t as black and white as ‘wanting’ to eat any one particular thing.

    We know you’re supposed to eat ‘healthy’.

    Vegan mothers-to-be want to maintain their plant-based diet, that I can assert without any scientific ‘fact’.

    What I believe Mama to be saying here is, what do you do when everything you thought or believed you would do conflicts with what is actually happening?

    Yes, foods we crave are deeply rooted in emotion, culture, and images around us.

    But we can’t dismiss a pregnant woman’s ‘cravings’ as purely emotional or what she ‘wants’ over what is happening in her body.

    When you’re pregnant, your body completely changes – your senses of smell and taste change, ingredients can either repulse or delight you, foods you never ate as a child suddenly have new meaning.

    How is it that I am projecting from a purely ’emotional’ place but your words remain objective and clear?

    Because “I just wish that people would just fess up and say “I wanted to eat meat so I ate it”.” is an emotional statement.

    “…we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.”
    ~ Albert Einstein

  14. Joselle Says:

    No matter where anyone stands, I think the mothers who’ve shared their experience on this blog are brave. Because you know you are going to get shit.

    That being said, is it possible that you were just craving foods you USED to eat? Also, isn’t it possible that anything would make you sick, beans or not? I ask this not to judge (Breeze shared the fact that she ate eggs with me several months ago when I expressed my own doubts about staying vegan while pregnant–BTW not pregnant now and never have been so this was all hypothetical). Just wondering. Because I know women who are meat-eaters and everything made them nauseous when they were pregnant, too. In fact, a good friend who eats meat didn’t really want to touch the stuff early in her pregnancy.

    Veganism is relatively new while humans eating animals is very old. I’m vegan. I intend to stay one. But still, we are embarking on very new, and sometimes uncharted territory. And so, I think there are sometimes more questions than answers.

    I understand where Alicia and Elaine are coming from with their stats and facts but I think it’s a bit condescending to pull them out for posters who stated they were vegan for many years and had read all the stuff. It’s not that they don’t know these nutritional facts. It’s that they felt something during pregnancy that they didn’t feel before. I don’t think that was being acknowledged.

  15. I would also like to add that distinctions must be made between the terms plant-based diets, vegetarian, and vegan.

    Although vegetarian and vegan are plant-based diets, one might practice a plant-based diet and not identify as vegetarian or vegan, regardless of whether they consume animal-based products or not.

    We should also make it clear if we are referring to veganism as a full abstention from animal consumption, or only as dietary veganism.

  16. At the end of the day, Mama, it may just have to be enough to resolve that you (in general) are doing the best you can with the information, resources, and finances available to you.

    Aim to buy the best quality ingredients you can afford whose sourcing causes the least environmental and ecological harm.

    Eat a wide variety of foods, but also seek other things besides food that nourish you.

    Aim to make the most conscious decision, even if that means having to choose something in the moment that temporarily compromises your values.

    Be open to the fact that the only thing constant is change, and that what works for you today may not work for you tomorrow, next week, or next year.

  17. J.R. Boyd Says:

    This was a great post and a very interesting exchange.

    I would only affirm the idea that what we eat can have complex moral dimensions, especially in light of the “costs” associated with certain foods for people in different circumstances.

    I think it’s important to appreciate how different these circumstances can be, and presume that individuals can make complex moral decisions for themselves.

  18. Irene M. Says:

    What’s interesting to me, and what Alicia seems to be ignoring, is the ways in which race (and racism?) made it more difficult for you to maintain a vegan pregnancy. Why not have Whole Foods or another veg-friendly store in the black neighborhood? Is it because there is actually little interest in the black community (as I’m sure many people would argue) or because these largely white-owned companies assume that black people aren’t interested in veg*n food? Considering mainstream stereotypes about veg*ns (compassionate towards animals, educated, peace loving hippies, etc), what does that say about their assumptions of black people in general? That they’re violent and/or uncompassionate towards animals? That’s a pretty racist assumption and it’s sad to see how racism actually fosters cruelty towards animals.

    As for the whole question about vegans eating animal products. If you had been one of those “vegans” who gave up animals products for a week and then complained about how weak you were, then yeah, I’d roll me eyes and tell you that you needed to stick with it. However, you’ve been veg*n for a decade, you know what a healthy veg*n body feels like and I’d trust someone with your experience to know when something is wrong. If possible, I’d try to at least limit my animal product consumption, but I’m sure you’re doing the best you can.

    Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

    • KH Says:

      None of this makes sense, if ANY store in your area carries oats, rice, vegetables, fruits, and a variety of dry or canned beans, you have a plethora of vegan options available. These items are at every grocery store. Come on now, please tell me a standard grocery store that doesn’t have these basics items that everyone eats, omnivores and herbivores alike.

      I think stating that you need a whole foods or any specialized store is just the kind of jargon that steers people away from veganism. No one needs those highly processed soy and speciality items to maintain a healthy vegan diet or pregnancy.
      This is OBVIOUS. You don’t need Whole Foods to eat whole foods that are vegan, healthy, nutritious and delicious.

      Everything being said in the post and many of the comments are just excuses. If you are vegan for health reasons then you should know that, if you are vegan because you reject animal exploitation this wouldn’t even be an argument because no craving would stand in the way of your moral obligations as a compassionate person .

      Breeze, all your previous work has been diminished. Please clarify you current stance on speciesism.

      • johanna Says:

        Wow, KH, you really have no idea. Have you read anything about what neighborhoods tend to have NO SUPERMARKETS AT ALL? Surprise surprise, urban neighborhoods of color top the list. Access to fresh produce is VERY MUCH affected by race & class. I suggest you do some reading on these issues before making such comments.

      • supernovadiva Says:

        i’ve been in neighborhoods that didn’t have a grocery store available for 15 miles, but it was littered with fast food chains, convient and liquer stores.

    • Lupe Says:

      Im not a vegan, but eggs are the only remaining animal product I eat. Ive been reading this thread and a lot of it has been bothering me. This blog has been interesting for me as a womyn of color with a lot of these questions that are posed. what you have just stated is stupid and you obviously come from a class privileged background. The other day when i was still transitioning off of dairy my dumbass ate some cheese on pizza someone was giving away. im poor as fuck so tht was the only thing i ate that day, after not eating dairy for 2 weeks. the next day i was in so much pain, my stomach had sharp pains and i felt like shit. my friend was trying to be helpful and went to try to find something nutritious somewhere. I live in a hood. He went to the 3455678 corner stores in the 10 block radius but there was no fruits or fresh anything. A can of beans was pretty expensive bc its a cornerstore.
      Part of enviromental racism is what we see in hoods accross america, there are tons of mcdonalds, kfc, chinese take outs, etc but not a specialty store. the point tht is trying to be made is readily available organic food is much more accessible to some people then to others. farmers markets are during hours tht working people cant get too. its a privilege to be able to spend the time and grow your own shit too.
      the original question was about intersecting oppressions and how that plays out and i feel like most people havent been addressing it and im very curious about how people feel about that. also im going to assume tht alicia and someother people who have been very insensitive are white. white supremacy plays out in a whole lot of ways, including this rational objective bullshit is somehow above other peoples experiences. the whole world including the modern medical world is said to be standard and objective, but who are the people setting this up? anthropologists and the medical industry historically have been some of the racist people and have helped carry out some of the craziest things in history. im not saying that the resources being put out about veganism is wrong, im saying that it sounds like a silencing tactic to the few womyn of color mom vegans that have spoke up. With people who survive sexual assault, men often in there world, in their patriarchy, try to rationalize and dismiss things based on lack of fact. for many people its about their life, their survival, not about a book. i live in a vegan house. i manage with fries, government instant potatoes, and rice and beans sometimes. im not about to attack people in the hood first tho for getting that chicken or meat. shit that animal exploitation was brought from Europe with the colonizers. for me reducing the animal consumption has been about decolonizing, and patriarchy, and health. i would like to see what people have to say about INTERSECTIONAL EXPERIENCES.

      • Anonymous2 Says:

        Um…when you say “also im going to assume tht alicia and someother people who have been very insensitive are white. white supremacy plays out in a whole lot of ways, including this”

        BTW I think this is the Alicia that posted that is being discussed

        Moderators, If I am noting a different Alicia, please remove this posting asap, as my intention is not to offend the Alicia that is being referred to but to merely point out that labeling and assuming is detrimental to discussing the point…if they are wrong.

      • Alicia Says:

        Lupe how dare you! If you actually paid attention you would see that my name is on this blog as one of it’s contributing writers. And I am indeed a woman of color and a proud woman of color at that. How dare you assume anyone is white, black, asian, mexican, etc. just by their responses to a question or statement? It is truly telling of a deep seeded racism within yourself that you would make such broad base erroneous statements that show just how ignorant you truly are.

        It is clear that you are just a “browser” and not someone who actually reads this blog, posts, or responses. If you did then you would have easily gathered by now that I am not only a woman of color but someone who is also struggling financially right now, living off of food stamps to eat and making my way through grad school like many of the other contributers on this blog.

        How dare you compare me to a white supremacist! Who the fuck are you? You don’t know me. You don’t know shit about me. It is rare that I get this pissed off in a public forum but frankly…FUCK YOU!

        And correction…anthropologist have not been some of the most racist people in history. Assholes like you are the one’s who are create the problems in this world. The work of early anthropologist has been misused, mishandled and misquoted over the years but i will not sit here and allow you to paint a false picture of what and who anthropologist truly are. And yes, there are black anthropologist. Were you aware that Margaret Mead and Zora Neal Hurston were some of the first Anthropologist. Research a little before you speak next time. Maybe next time you won’t sound like such a ignorant asshole.

  19. KH Says:

    No surprise to me. I am fully aware of the existence of areas that lack sufficient grocery stores, but that wasn’t the issue I was addressing at the time, though I will now. I was commenting on those that have a standard no frills grocery store, even with only the bare essentials. I was stating the fact that it doesn’t have to be a speciality store to have access to vegan foods. I thought that was clear.
    If a store had chicken menstruation and carcass to consume during pregnancy, might they have rice, nuts and beans? Obviously, I am aware of places that don’t have grocery stores and those that are complete food deserts. However, this atrocity and deficiency isn’t limited to urban areas or to people of color either.

    “The majority of U.S. food deserts are rural areas, but researchers say a large number of people also are affected by a relatively small number of urban areas with poor grocery access.”

  20. neva Says:

    Ok, I live in an African American majority, low income area and the selection in a mainstream grocery store can be terrible. Many of the canned beans have lard. The dried beans might have bugs in them. And Johanna is right, some neighborhoods don’t have a real grocery store–they’re lucky to have a 7-11.

    The vegetables here are often put out to sell when they are already spoiled and allowed to just contaminate the other produce. It’s amazing when something as basic as a lemon is impossible–if the whole lemon display is covered in furry blue mold.

    Further, if a pregnant woman is having a lot of nausea or other problems, then eating a ton of dried beans might not go so well, but a nice soy yogurt might hit the spot. However, stores in these areas tend not to have soy yogurt or many other vegan options, like tempeh, mock meats, quinoa, etc. The health food store (which I drive to) has all kinds of nice things, including burgers out of sunflower seeds and veggies for those having trouble with soy… I’m sure I’m not remembering everything they carry, but you see the point.

    I’m not trying to justify anything. Personally I’ve been vegan many years and stuck with it despite some health concerns and living in less than stellar neighborhoods. But I’ve also had some help along the way too–when I didn’t have a car friends would take me by the health food store and so on.

    However, I have seen a number of friends “fall off the vegan wagon” during their pregnancies, so if it’s happening a lot, then there might be something there we can address. In some cases more energy-dense vegan foods might help, in other cases the mother might find herself unable to tolerate her former favorite foods, but could find a substitute.

    And I am saying I’ve seen the terrible grocery stores, some charge more for spoiled food than good food costs in wealthier neighborhoods.

    I think if we have an interest in attracting more people to veganism then providing a variety of attractive and interesting foods is important, and making them widely available and affordable is important too. Sure there are die-hard people–the kind who say “even if I was starving to death, I’d never touch an egg”–but we also want to appeal to everyone, and that includes people who don’t tolerate beans well, people who hate to cook, people who live in poor neighborhoods and so on.

    • C Says:

      food accessibilty is obviously a major problem but the original post was framed in this way, “some humans need animal products for survival or to be healthy”. i reject that assertion and there is no evidence given to support that assertion other than “feeling” that one *needed* or *had* to eat animals. that is not proof. what vitamins and minerals were you, or anyone you were referring to, deficient in, mama? did you consult an expert in nutrition? in vegan nutrition? how about you, breeze? supernovadiva? i ask because it has not been addressed yet.

      not having access to healthy plant based foods is different than saying one -needs- to consume animals to survive or be healthy. just because one needs to eat what is affordable or accessible is not the same as saying that any human -needs- to consume animals to survive or be healthy at any stage of life. And just because one doesn’t have access to fresh plant based foods it doesn’t mean that the animal and/or processed products available to them will supplement the nutrition they need to obtain from healthy foods, including fresh plant foods, and therefore they will not be nourished regardless, and their “survival” will surely be less fulfilling and definitely not healthy. again, to be crystal clear, i’m not arguing that food accessibility isn’t a serious problem, i’m just disagreeing with the way “survival foods” was framed in the original post (“i know folks who need to eat meat in order to be healthy”).

      there is a community called the african hebrew israelites of jerusalem. thousands of their members (2000-4000 i believe – there are conflicting data online) live in dimona israel and there are thousands more around the world that adhere to their lifestyle. they consume a 100% vegetarian diet (other than honey) and they, according to inside and outside sources, are thriving, including pregnant women (all women of color, whom you are “referencing”, mama) and children. the fact that zero out of several thousand people, all unique individuals coming from all over, need animal products to survive or be healthy disproves the original post flat out. so then, maybe the problem is the society we live in. in dimona, for instance, there is plenty of support for these mothers that consume a diet suitable for vegans (except some eat honey). in the u.s. there is little support, or even information for pregnant vegan mothers, and there is a lot of fear based media influences that constantly tell us we are endangering ourselves and our children if we are vegan (this blog is now contributing to this fear). maybe that’s the real problem here, not humans having any physical neccesity to consume animals at any stage of life but being conditioned to resort, out of instilled ignorance and fear, to consuming them when we feel concerned for ourselves and our children. It’s an understandable part of the human condition, but it’s not proof that anyone -needs- to consume animals to survive or be healthy.

  21. KH Says:

    I am not trying to appeal to everyone, I am trying to assert that idea that if you want to eat animal products that is your choice, but if you are going through the trouble of having a vegan blog and reaching out to a vegan community then you should be 100% dedicated to ending the exploitation of animals.

    Vegans need to keep a consistent message in the media (blogs are media) so that we aren’t viewed as hypocritical or wavering in our dedication.

    If you don’t care about these issues then you are most likely a vegetarian or you eat a plant based diet. So “vegetarians of color” or “vegetarian sistah” would make way more sense for blog names since certain stances like mine are often scrutinized so quickly.

    Compromising my ethics is non-negotiable and also non-debatable, pregnant or poor.

    This type of post does a disservice to those who wish to educate people about speciesism. I am vegan because my ethics have led me to this life-style, yes it encompasses my whole entire life. It isn’t just a diet, I reject all forms of animal exploitation and consuming animal agriculture is only the tip of the ice berg.

    I am not saying you are a bad person or wrong if you aren’t in line with my ethics, but I am saying that you are not vegan. Exclusive? Maybe… Dedicated? Unquestionable….

    • Joselle Says:

      KH, every blogger speaks on their behalf and their behalf alone. Mama’s opinion may not be my opinion or that of the other eleven or so bloggers.

      It is my understanding that the only criteria for participating as a blogger is that you be vegan and of color. It’s also my understanding that Mama is now vegan and was vegan and vegetarian prior to pregnancy. Is that correct, Mama? If so, she’s vegan and can give her point of view in this forum. And you can feel free to disagree.

      But sometimes discussions are messy. And even inconsistent. This is a personal blog, not investigative journalism. Biases, blindspots, thoughts still being worked out–that’s all going to happen.

      Also, we discuss animal exploitation at the intersection of all forms of oppression. So saying something like, “I wouldn’t compromise my ethics if I were poor,” is dismissive of how poverty interacts with food consumption and production. Are you poor? Would you let yourself starve if you had to choose between eating a dead rat to eat or nothing at all? Most people on this planet are faced with decisions like that everyday. I’ve never had to face decisions like that. I shop at Whole Foods. It is easier for me to delete entire foods from my diet because there is so much abundance in my life. Doesn’t make me evil. It just means I have privilege.

      Being aware of that privilege, however, doesn’t mean I’m any less dedicated to eradicating animal exploitation. My complete opposition to animal slavery is the ONLY reason I’m vegan. I am NOT vegan for health reasons. I am vegan for the animals. And seeing their plight with wide-open eyes makes me realize even more that oppression is ever-present in human life. After all, we’re the ones enslaving the animals.

      As other commenters have mentioned, we need to talk about why previously vegan women feel the need to abandon their veganism during pregnancy. It must be viewed from multiple lenses–nutrition, social pressure, biology, hormones. Most importantly, though, we need to listen to the voices of women who actually made those decisions and not just tell them to read a nutrition brochure they probably read 10 years ago anyway.

      That was my problem with some of the responses. Not that these women should go unchallenged just because they have been pregnant. This is a vegan blog and they should be challenged. I just don’t think they were being entirely listened to.

      • Hi everyone. If it makes bloggers feel uncomfortable that I ate eggs several times a month during my pregnancy, and would like me to no longer participate as a VOC contributor/moderator, I understand. I will remove myself from the administrator privileges today.


  22. Tania D. Russell Says:

    Quoting: ” However, I have seen a number of friends “fall off the vegan wagon” during their pregnancies, so if it’s happening a lot, then there might be something there we can address. In some cases more energy-dense vegan foods might help, in other cases the mother might find herself unable to tolerate her former favorite foods, but could find a substitute.”

    This is my thing. Yes, it’s disheartening to read about meat eating on a vegan blog and I can understand and to an extent share some people’s feelings about that. However, most of my girlfriends stopped being vegan (or if they were veggies) during their pregnancies and a lot of them continued to eat some form of dead animal afterwards. And the ALL made the claim that it made them feel better and it was just something their “body needed” during their pregnancies.

    And none of them are Black and/or lo income (because those things are not one in the same) or living in areas without access to stores such as TJs and Whole Paycheck.

    So I’ve never been pregnant nor do I ever plan to be. It’s been difficult for me to watch my friends pretty much all “fall off the wagon” and it’s been difficult to understand WHY but I’d be more interested in understanding it than pointing fingers at what I think they should do. The irony to me is that I am an extremely protein intensive person, always have been. Like just a salad or just some pasta with red sauce SO does NOT get it done for me as a meal. Yet my one friend (who was veggie not vegan)- even through her first pregnancy – was all carbs all the time and then in her second pregnancy until now all of a sudden she “needs” to eat fish. I mean… I just don’t get it and I can’t pretend I do. But it’s happened too many times (I’m talking 5 friends came to mind immediately upon reading this…) to pretend like it’s a phenomenon I’ve never heard of.

  23. Maho Says:

    Hi this is a very interesting discussion. I am 41 ant trying to get pregnant. I am Japanese living in Tokyo and I am vegan. My doctor did not know what to do with my diet. In fact, she suggested me to eat meat or fish, some animal product, because I am already in my 40s and trying to get pregnant… Anyways I am very uncomfortable about the idea and do not want to anything that is against my belief. However I am also confused about what the right thing to do, very tough choice.

  24. mama Says:

    i had taken a few days from these comments because i was feeling disheartened.
    but then i thought about the mothers with whom i worked. who are looking for more than propaganda when they are struggling with these really fundamental questions about ethics, food, and bodies.
    so i am speaking for myself. and myself alone. but i am speaking to primarily mothers/women who have been in similar positions as me.
    1. for some clarification.
    i know the difference between want and need. and i know the difference between a craving and a need.
    for me a pregnancy craving was ‘god. that would taste good.’ a need was: well, we dont have enough money to pay our bills. so i need to get a job. but i barely have the energy to get out of bed. and even when i do get out of bed, i have 1/4-1/6th of the energy that i had before i was pregnant. so i end up getting the very minimal done. so i how do i get enough physical and mental energy to be able to do what i need to so that i can afford the place where i live, or the energy bill this winter in minneapolis, or food? any food?
    what do i *need* to survive?
    especially when all the foods that used to give me that slow burning energy that i need to get through the day…make me ill? my body rejects them?
    what do i need to survive?
    cause not only do i have less energy. but there is this other life. and that to me is what being a vegan is about. life. there is this other life that i am co-creating that i love and am willing to give up everything so that this new life survives.
    (and i am strongly pro-abortion. pregnancy made me only more strongly so.)
    so that to me is need. how do i survive? how do i work? how do i make money?
    cause some of you commenting seem to be arguing from the perspective that ‘no one needs animal products to survive’. but at a more expansive level of ethical arguments what we need is not defined only by biology, but also by the social structures with which we live.
    like i dont need little green pieces of paper with dead white men on them. on one level.
    but in the winter of minneapolis i did need money.
    2. expertise: okay so then are those of you who say i should go to see an vegan foods expert of some kind of another. ok. would that expert work for free? cause ive read all the literature. and how would i pay for this expert? and how would i visit this vegan experts office if i dont have the physical or mental energy to take the 3 or 4 buses to his or her office that is probably on the other side of town. considering i didnt see any such vegan expert offices in my neighborhood.
    3. but there is a far more troubling assertion on this thread than the ones simply steeped in ignorance about the living conditions of a lot of folks on this planet.
    there is the assumption that i cannot know what i need for me body and my life. that my self knowledge. my deep understanding in this body and this life for three decades is not adequate for me to be able to be my own expert on my own existence.
    and this troubles me because it cuts to the heart of the question of anti oppressive anti authoritarian radical ethics and politics.
    who is the authority on our lives? who is the authority on the black experience. or being queer. or being working class. or being a refugee. who owns these stories?
    who owns this knowledge?
    can you tell the story of my life better than i can?
    what gives you the right to say what i needed and what i wanted?
    only i can say that.
    only i can say what i needed for my survival. and that i believed that my survival, that my childs survival, were worth it.
    perhaps you disagree.
    i hope not.
    we like to think that we are so knowledgeable that we understand all of the factors of another persons life. well that is just hubris. we can never know what some one else’s life truly requires.
    isnt the point of anti speciesism that we all have the right to survive?

    4. i did not realize that my little post that was more questions than answers would lead to the point where my participation in vegans of color would be questioned. if you dont want me on vegans of color. i gracefully exit.

    • Lupe Says:

      Wow, thanks for saying that. I completely agree with what you said. sometimes it takes a second to articulate your self well. Im really glad voices like yours are out there somewhere, even if oppressive mothafuckas wont check themselves. I dont want you to exit either, its crazy, like its not hard enough to fight for space out in the real world, to have to argue to have your space on the internet…..

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Disclaimer: Im a semi-frequent reader on this list. I don’t think that its a matter of people liking, respecting or understanding other peoples views. I could imagine everything solved if this blog is renamed something else…vegetariansofcolor? foodpolitics, POCfoodblog? I believe because many of the posts and concepts go beyond veganism . For a particular example, when there is a discussion about why there are no reasonably priced good markets with fresh produce in urban areas…its an issue for any person who like vegetables or vegetarians, not just vegans etc and this appears to be rooted in lots of issues which are not only about veganism.

    • Joselle Says:

      I think asking you to reread the blog’s tagline on the top lefthand corner of this page is the best response I could offer your comment. Veganism doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

      Breeze, I don’t want you to stop blogging. here Since you seemed to be responding to my last comment, I just want to make clear that that wasn’t and isn’t my request at all. I feel comfortable with you blogging here.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Sorry, my point was not made and perhaps I confused the issue by bringing in another point that often the postings are not just about vegans but discrimination, social issues et al in general. But I do think the group could consider a rename.

        First, I will directly say, I am not calling out anyone directly here. If one thinks my posting is just about one contributor, it is not.

        I’m saying that if people are having issues with vegans who strayed and that technically they are not vegan anymore YET that same group wants to keep those contributors, an easy way to accommodate this is to rename the blog to reflect the new changes else having non-vegan moderators or regular contributors to a vegan site questions the credibility of the blog and makes vegans the potential topic of hypocracy. If I come to a very vegan specific site, typically I’m expecting *regular* postings and/or moderations from vegans–not ex-vegans, or soon-to-be vegans. Primarily because those ex-vegans, soon-to-be vegans etc have now either by accident, willinginly, or unwillingly have a partial new outlook which will affect their comments or views.

        I will make it clear though. Again I am not calling anyone out. Every vegan ( regardless of the time spent vegan ) has made amazing contributions and sacrifices for the cause, for the animals and themselves. ( And I hope every ex-vegan becomes vegan again 😉

  26. purpletigron Says:

    Anyone can email and ask questions and get answers for free.

    If you have specific questions which aren’t answered in the standard Vegan Society literature, vegan dietician Sandra Hood will give personal answers for free.

    The only problem is that this will not be based on a face-to-face consultation.

  27. purpletigron Says:

    I am not medically trained. I am not qualified to comment on medical needs. But I do know from my own experience that – despite the great value of self-awareness in health – human beings cannot fully intuitively know their complete medical needs.

    Our bodies and minds sadly did not evolve to give us fully system diagnostics.

    Many of the signals which we do receive from our biological and psychological selves are very non-specific, and easily misinterpreted. We are also adapted to see patterns and links whether they exist or not.

    Scientific medicine loses value when it tries to reduce us to numbers and averages. But science has value when it allows us to identify the real links.

  28. johanna Says:

    I find it really fucked up that people who have never been pregnant are trying to tell these women what being pregnant is like!

    I’m gonna be an asshole here & use my prerogative as the person who started this blog to say, as far as I’m concerned, Mama & Breeze are still more than welcome to blog here under the VOC banner. I can fully understand if they no longer want to, b/c of the shitty comments they’ve been getting. But their contributions are valued & welcome. The vegan police can bugger off.

    I don’t even have the energy to address all the crap going on in this thread, but some people really need to fucking check themselves.

  29. Joselle Says:

    Anonymous, this blog is accurately named so I think you can just drop the whole rename suggestion. Mama and Breeze ARE vegan. It is abundantly clear that you didn’t read their posts or comments thoroughly otherwise you would know they are currently vegan.


  30. Noemi Says:

    breeze-I think we have to look at who’s saying they feel uncomfortable w/ you here. I do not. I mean, the whole fucking point of this blog is the complexity of being a person of color & vegan.
    purpletigron-what about folks who don’t have internet access? there’s so many assumptions on this thread its unbelievable.

  31. […] by mama in Uncategorized. Leave a Comment just a thought on this conversation over at vegans of color: …if you are vegan because you reject animal exploitation this wouldn’t even be an argument […]

  32. supernovadiva Says:

    man this thread was very emotional for me. it brought back all the feelings i had while pregnant and bringing my daughter home to an empty cupboard. i mean i was suppose to produce food for this child and all i had was oatmeal. no money. all i can say this thread reminded me of the evangilistical churches i’ve grew up in. dogma before compassion. this viciousness of attacking other’s experiences could discourage new veg*ns. in the church you were never enough. you can’t be 100% all the time at everything. even if you accomplished that there’s always someone who is saying that’s not enough.
    i hope some of you never have to face tough choices that would shake your core.

  33. J.R. Boyd Says:

    Yeah, so in conclusion, second-guessing the personal health choices of pregnant women is rarely a winning strategy.

    • Alicia Says:

      J.R. I have learned from this blog that this statement is a thousand percent true. As long as you’re pregnant you can hide behind anything because your pregnant and no one is supposed to challenge the decision’s of a pregnant woman if you do you are seen as cold, mean, ignorant or in my case you can even be labeled as a white supremacist for doing do, even if you’re black.

  34. anonymous Says:

    i just want to say that anyone who does have access to enough plant based foods to survive but is using the most impoverished people in tragic situations to justify themselves consuming animals, because they “had” to or felt they “needed” to, is objectifying those really living in those circumstances and is therefore exploiting those people.

    noemi, anyone reading this blog has access to the internet. the comment about looking on the internet for help is valid because IT WAS POSTED ON A BLOG! where is the assumption?

    anyone who says they had all the books available to them or had a grocery store but “many” of the beans had lard in them (not all of them) or dry beans had bugs in them (many beans have debris in them) is desperately making excuses.

    of course some people in the united states don’t have access to healthy food but if you look at the comments of some of the people that said they, or their baby “had” to eat animals, many are not saying that they live in a food desert, and they all have access to the internet so they made a conscious choice NOT to stay vegan. is it because many people here are really and truly playing the oppression olympics? animals are worth less than humans so they come in last? is that not speciesism?

    i feel sorry for somone like maho. she is already obviously getting shitty info about vegan pregnancies in her location, now, despite all the evidence that pregnant women can be healthy and have healthy children on vegan diets she is reading this blog of people who could not stick with it and say it’s impossible for everyone without any scientific fact. you are perpetuating the vegan fear factor.

    for those of you who absolutely do NOT have access to foods suitable for vegan at all (you know who you are, and are not) then i sympathize with you and i understand your problems with staying consistent with your morals. for those of you who do have that access, but are using lack of access as a justification for you lack of consistency in opposing speciesism, then you should be ashamed. you are guilty of objectifying and exploiting those who are oppressed.

  35. Crys T Says:

    Johanna, I think I love you.

  36. Irene M Says:

    “I think stating that you need a whole foods or any specialized store is just the kind of jargon that steers people away from veganism.”

    You know what, if you are pregnant and your standard vegan foods (the kind found in a common grocery store) are making you ill, then yeah a specialty store might actually be necessary. It’s not necessary for the vast majority of people, but some individuals do need specialized food.

    Also, comments about how mama just doesn’t know enough or didn’t try hard enough or how she didn’t “really need” to eat animal products only make sense if you assume mama is an uneducated and inexperienced vegan. Mama has veg*n for quite some time. It’s patronizing, which quite ironic considering the focus of the blog. Besides, I’m sure plenty of the commenters have temporarily lapsed without having nearly as good a reason as mama.

    “but do we as vegans of color have a responsibility and accountability to those who cannot afford, in terms of money, health, time, etc., to be vegan?”

    Yes. I think it’s our responsibility as friends to help out as we can. It’s also important for veg*n societies to establish networks for vegans. If mama had a friend or acquaintance able to find some alternative vegan foods, then she might not have lapsed. At the very least, that kind of network would make it easier to transition back to veganism after the pregnancy.

  37. […] Guerilla Mama Medicine, I read this post at Vegans of Color, “Survival Foods.” It talks in part about women who are vegan who feel during pregnancy that they need meat, […]

  38. Anonymous Says:

    I can see that you are censors which is another atrocity in itself. My comment wasn’t posted for some strange reason. I can only imagine all of the other posts that you decided to not post because they exposed the truth about people calling themselves vegans without having a vegan philosophy. If you had cut off all further comments that would be one thing, but you are now only posting comments supporting your point of view. That is pathetic and unbalanced and you should be ashamed. This isn’t a vegan discussion board and that is obvious. This blog doesn’t promote the vegan ideal but it does promote racism and separation. Regression is not pretty.

    • johanna Says:

      No, this isn’t a discussion board. You’re right. It’s a BLOG. Points for observation skills!

      • Anonymous2 Says:

        I’m surprised by the implications in some of the posts that if you question a posting or are critical of the original concept they might be non-white.

        For me, It doenst matter if the person who eats non-vegan during pregnancy ( for whatever reason) is white OR non-white…the point is..they did ( for whatever reason ) stray from veganism.

      • Anonymous2 Says:

        Posting from Anonymous2 was NOT in response to #39 but meant to be in the general list following comment 40

    • Lupe Says:

      how is trying to have a space to discuss issues thast specifically affect people of color in the vegan community racist? the larger AR community is hella racist. they might have it down with speciesm but most white vegans i know are crazy fucking oppressors in other aspects. White people should STFU, all the bitching and complaining when POC try to have space is thinly veiled white supremacy to me. Check your Privilege.
      I want to post these two links and hope a lot of people read it, especially people of color that do activism with white people.

      • Anonymous2 Says:

        When you say “White people should STFU, all the bitching and complaining” Honestly, that sounds racist to me. BTW some of the people who are commenting on the original post are NOT WHITE. Read the posts, click on the author and learn about them and their previous posts.

      • johanna Says:

        Anonymous2: please go do some reading on racism & white privilege & hopefully you will understand comments like Lupe’s. This blog is NOT the place to educate people about racism 101; I am not interested in having that discussion here, it’s a derail & there are loads of other resources out there for this purpose.

    • Joselle Says:

      Your comments have been posted. How exactly are your anonymous views not being represented?

      When you have the guts to use your name and, as the playground saying goes, say it to my face, your claims of racism might hold a bit more water with me. That I won’t tolerate. Calling anyone here a racist is grounds for me and the other bloggers to REALLY stop posting your inflammatory and untrue comments.

      I’ll say it one more time and for the last time. Every one of these bloggers speaks for themselves. And every one of them is vegan. The world is a messier place than you’d like to imagine, ANON. Deal. And stop trying to control this conversation, ANONYMOUS. Comments are moderated and we’ve never hidden that fact. But you’ve definitely more than had your say.

      • Anonymous2 Says:

        Ok Im not Anonymous, Im a diff person. I feel the reason why people should not need to use their real name is because the board is so heated sometimes, that people should NOT try to infer race, class etc from the name. As it stands some people in this discussion are making assumptions and comments based on name, not the message.

      • adam Says:

        What difference does it make if someone were to infer your race and class? If you actually believe you made a good point, then it wouldn’t matter what other people think. If you don’t think you’re making a valid point, then don’t post it. I can only speak for myself, but I assign a lot less legitimacy to defensive anonymous posts.

        BUT, I’m sure I’m not alone in finding your continual judgemental, *anonymous* postings here on VOC pretty disgraceful and cowardly. This is such a unique space and it shameful that “a semi-frequent reader” would deprecate the integrity of this blog. Vegans of all races have responded to your message, and most of us here, not surpirsingly, disagree. The only conversation you’ve been contributing to since #35 is how big of a tool you can become.

  39. mama Says:

    @johanna, irene, jr boyd, michelle, noemi, and all of the other commenters made gross assumptions and listened to other people stories.
    thank you.

  40. Joselle Says:

    To all anonymous people, 1 or 2 or whatever: What are you talking about? No one is inferring anything by name. And one of the VoC bloggers, Alicia, was one of the first people to criticize another VoC blogger, Mama. So, yeah. We know how to read and who is who. Also, there is something called an IP address and I can see that comments from Anon and Anon 2 are coming from the same one.

    Since this is all I am adding at this point, I think I’ll leave it at that and stop reading these comments. I don’t have anything to add to this post and the discussion has really devolved. And I think that’s a real shame because this is an important topic. But hey, that’s the internet for ya.

  41. johanna Says:

    I’m going to freeze comments on this post for now, as the conversation does not seem to be productive at all & has become really fucking heinous. Mama, if you’d like me to open comments again, please let me know. Thanks.

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