Are you a parent? Are you interested in healthy plant-based eating? We've asked some experienced plant-based parents to share their knowledge, insight and practical tips with you!
It's time to hear from the dads! In Part 3 of my "Plant-Based Parents" interview series, I spoke with Andrew, a sporting enthusiast and recent first-time father. Andrew and his wife Mandy both follow a plant-based diet, and have kindly offered to share their experience of raising a plant-based baby with us here on PlantPlate.
Hi Andrew! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey to plant-based eating?
I'm 34 years old and have been vegan for a few years. I'm into sports, especially long distance kayaking, and I also like to run and lift weights. The plant based lifestyle has done amazing things for my recovery after exercise.
A bit over a year ago I read The Starch Solution (by Dr. John McDougall) and then completed The Starch Solution Certification Course. Since then I've been focused more on whole foods plant based eating, including cutting out extra oils.
We understand you are the father of a baby boy. How old is he? Does he also follow a plant-based diet?
My son Teddy is 11 months old, he's been plant-based his whole life. He's a big, happy, healthy boy. And he loves his fruit and veggies, so he's a great advertisement for the healthfulness of this lifestyle!
Wonderful! So your wife was also vegan during her pregnancy? Was this difficult?
My wife's pregnancy was fantastic. Every time we went for a check up with a doctor or nurse, the alarm bells would ring when they found out she was vegan! But they relaxed pretty quickly when they saw that she was in perfect health and all of her blood work was spot on.
That’s great to hear! How have you handled discussing you and your son's diet with medical professionals?
We have both taken the time to make sure we're really well educated on what to feed ourselves and Teddy. We've read a number of great books written by leaders in nutrition research, and we've read a lot of scientific studies too. We also went to see Dr Malcolm Mckay in Melbourne. Talking with him helped reinforce that we were on the right track, and that we were doing the right thing for ourselves and for our (then) unborn son. As a result of all this we are very confident in what we are doing. So, when doctors and other health professionals have told us we need to feed meat and dairy to Teddy, we've been able to thoroughly explain why we don't, and also provide them with website links and book references so they can see the evidence for themselves. On top of that, all three of us are very healthy, especially Teddy, so that's pretty hard to argue with! The proof is in the plant based pudding!
Agreed, being a living example is probably the best evidence there is! Speaking of your son, what are some of his favourite meals and snacks? And what are some of yours?
He loves bananas, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, porridge, avocados, tofu, veggie burgers, mashed potato, mushrooms, zucchini and green smoothies. He's not very fussy! I personally love having a big fruity smoothie every day, banana and mango or banana and mixed berries are my favourites. My favourite meal to make is a big lentil bolognaise with heaps of veggies and whole wheat pasta- I could eat this every day and never get bored! I also love a good sweet potato mash, veggie burgers, and anything Mexican, which is always easy to make plant based. Burritos are a favourite.
Can you explain the motivation behind you and your wife's decision to follow a healthy plant-based diet?
Originally Mandy (my wife) and I became vegan as a sort of health experiment for a month, and we felt so good after the first week that we never went back! Over time we learned more about the ethical side of things and that's our main motivation now. We've moved away from added oils and processed foods, and switched to a whole foods focus in our eating. After doing more and more research it became obvious to us that this is the healthiest way to eat. We want to give our son the best possible start to life and we want to be healthy and have heaps of energy too.
Those are all really excellent reasons. Before we end, we wanted to ask how important you think it is to teach children healthy eating habits early in life? What effect do you think it will have on your son later in life?
I think along with teaching him to be a kind and caring person, it's one of the most important lessons we can share with him. The world is changing so much, it's very difficult to know what knowledge and skills will be important and what won't be by the time he's an adult. Who knows what new inventions there will be, what new jobs and industries there will be, and how different life in general will be? One of the few things I feel we can be sure of are the health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet. This way of eating will allow him to thrive, laying the groundwork to support the rest of his endeavours and help him get the most out of life. It will also mean that he will be able to minimise harm to animals and the environment, which is of course extremely important too!
Yes it is! I'd like to say a big thank you to Andrew for sharing his story. If you're interested in learning more, be sure to check out the other interviews I've published in the Plant-Based Interviews section.
The information on this website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice or care for adults or children. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat health problems or illnesses without first consulting your doctor.