GREEN GENES: Erin & Willow
Erin, 24; Willow, 5 months; My partner Kody, has just recently decided to transition into vegetarianism. I am so proud of him, and he is 100% supportive of my decision to raise Willow as a vegan.
Length of veganism:
Approx. two and a half years, with a small period during my pregnancy eating organic free range eggs - I will explain more about this in my answers below.
Tell us about your journey to veganism:
I completely stopped eating red meat when I was quite young, around 10-12 years old. I had only really just started to make the connection between the animals that I loved and what I was putting in my mouth! So I haven't eaten red meat in about 15 years. I was however still eating chicken, fish and dairy up until about three years ago, and then eggs were the last thing to go. The more focus I put on eating plant based meals, and every time I cut out another animal product, I felt clearer, happier & so much healthier than I ever had before.
What do you believe to be the benefits of living a vegan lifestyle?
The benefits of living a vegan lifestyle are truly endless. Most of all, I think I feel more AWAKE: entirely conscious of my spirituality and the ties binding all beings sharing the earth – human and non human. When your body is only ingesting high-vibrational plant foods, rather than fear and death, it really opens you up to a whole other world, spiritually and emotionally. I feel happier and lighter, my meditation is deeper, and everything flows more easily. I truly believe veganism is our natural state. We are meant to thrive! When you are doing something positive for other beings, and helping the Earth, you have a great feeling of satisfaction. There is still so much work to be done, and I am often brought to tears by the lack of compassion in so many human beings, but just one person makes a difference. When more people start waking up to this, we will have a revolution of kindness, compassion and HEALTH!
How did you go throughout your pregnancy?
Great!! I felt amazing, apart from the awful morning sickness for the first two and a half months. Once that was over it was honestly one of the most beautiful periods of my life! As I mentioned above, I did eat some organic free-range eggs for a period during my pregnancy. I was a vegan beforehand, and all of a sudden I was pregnant (we weren't planning for a baby, Willow was the most beautiful surprise on earth). I hadn’t done any research on maintaining a vegan diet during pregnancy. Most of the information on the internet/ in books was really fear based and I didn't know what to do. So I decided that I would just add eggs into my diet until I had everything figured out – and in the end I just decided to follow my own intuition and returned to eating a plant based diet. I ate so much beautiful food when I was pregnant – smoothies, salads, lots of nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables. Oh and litres of coconut water! Willow was born at 9.3 lbs (over 4 kgs!), has the most luscious head of hair I've ever seen on a baby, and is ahead for most of the developmental milestones by at least a month!
Did/do you have any rituals or ways to ground yourself during pregnancy?
I attended Kundalini yoga classes and tied this into my whole pregnancy. I used a lot of breath work (Pranayama), mantras and was drawn to nature even more so than usual, I spent time barefoot on the earth every day. I was also very drawn to the moon and made a habit of taking myself down to the beach on the evening of each full moon - funnily enough, Willow was born on a full blood moon eclipse!
Why did you choose to raise your child/children vegan?
Because I believe health and happiness are the best things that you can ever give to your child. Children are naturally compassionate beings - they aren't dulled to the horrors that humans have become accustomed to and accept as a part of their every day life. I think that every child would choose to be a vegan if they were aware of exactly where their food came from and how it came to be on their plate. Also, the health benefits are endless! Of course, Willow is her own person and my only goal is to raise her with love and compassion, teach her to treat everyone and thing with respect and once she is old enough she will be able to make her own decisions about what she eats. I just hope that she will always act from her heart.
How did people react to your decision?
I haven't really had any reactions at all, although she is still exclusively breastfed and not eating yet, so perhaps some to come. My family knows me well enough to understand that I have done my research. Kody and I believe it to be the best thing for our daughter, so there are no issues. To be honest I find it totally absurd to feed a baby dead cow, or milk from another species - but I wouldn't say that to anyone, I just try to live my life by example in the hope that when people see how healthy Willow is, that they might consider it for their family.
Tell us about your birthing experience:
It was incredible! So intense, but amazing. I am in awe of all women! We got into a natural birthing centre, just basically down the road from our home, and I spent most of the time in the birthing pool just floating around in other worlds! I ended up having to be transferred to hospital, as they were worried that Willow was distressed because I had been in labor for 25 hours. But I gave birth within 20 minutes of being there, and we went straight back to the birthing centre to spend our first night together in a cosy, dark room. So it was all natural, no epidural - being submerged in water is just the best pain relief in the world.
Do you have any plans for schooling years? (non-vegan friends, parents, teachers etc):
We are hoping to be living with a community of like-minded people by that time, who share the same values as us, and possibly home-schooling. But even if we aren't, the world and the general view on veganism (and vegetarianism) is changing at a rapid pace. I think people are a lot more open minded these days.
Can you recommend any resources for raising vegan children?
I really just go by my instinct, and if I have a question I will research it or ask a fellow vegan mama!
Are there any vegans mums that have supported you through your journey?
I have connected with a lovely tribe of vegan mamas all across the world through social media, and we speak every day! It really is lovely to have that support.
In what ways has veganism changed your life:
Way too many to count. I feel so much happier and more inspired than I ever have in my life, and I am so happy that I can pass this on to my daughter.
Advice for families planning on raising vegan children:
o your research rather than accepting what the mainstream tells you. Follow your instincts. Be kind and stick to your beliefs, you know what is best.
You can follow this beautiful family's journey here: instagram.com/erinashleighh/