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Labels, Food

I’m not so big on labels. Whether it’s people or clothing, they don’t matter much to me. And it’s always amusing when folks label me. One of the things that frustrates folks most when trying to put me in a box is the way I eat. I gave up meat and dairy four years ago, but I still eat seafood. It’s neither strict vegan nor vegetarian nor pescatarian. If I had to label it, I’d call it Cheatin’ Vegan. It really boils down to eating lots of produce and beans. I added eggs when I was preggers to help meet my daily protein counts—I kept track for a week and found that the magic 75 grams was elusive on most days. I’m still nursing, so I’m still eating them, though without cheese, the magic is gone. :-)

Why did I move to this hard-to-pin-down diet? I read Skinny Bitch on the suggestion of my then-editor, Mimi Valdes, back when I was at Latina. It was originally published in 2005, so you probably already know this, but it’s not really a diet book. In fact, it’s not about being skinny at all. It’s really about how your body handles processed foods and foods derived from animals, and it pushes a vegan lifestyle, all with plenty of colorful language (hence the bitch in the title). I got three chapters in and yelled to my hubby that I was done eating meat. Cold (tofu) turkey. 

It’s never been difficult for me; I truly don’t miss meat. I think the fact that I have fish once or twice a week helps. Hubby has always been supportive, but he really wanted me to eat meat when I was pregnant. Luckily, after our 18-week ultrasound revealed that Babygirl was growing quite well, he stopped nagging me.

But of course the outside world didn’t. As is always the case when you’re pregnant, everyone has an opinion about how what you’re doing is wrong and dangerous for your baby. And it hasn’t stopped—I literally had someone tell me that I was going to kill my baby if I didn’t feed her meat, because her strict vegetarian friend’s kids were malnourished. Sigh. I just explained to her that meat is not necessary for a healthy diet, but that you have to work with your child’s pediatrician to be sure you’re giving them everything they need, because kids have different dietary needs than their grownup counterparts. 

At this point, Babygirl eats everything I eat, minus the fish. But that changes tomorrow at lunch—she will have her first taste of fish, a bland piece of tilapia I baked for her yesterday. Here’s hoping she loves it!

What have well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) folks told you about the way you choose to feed your child? How did you handle it? 

I’m Kenrya Rankin Naasel, a lifestyle + parenting expert who—after much prodding from her friends—decided to share her hippie-dippie Black chick mama life.