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Where Does Vegan Baby Sky Get Her Protein?

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I’m constantly asked about the details of Baby Sky’s life.

Where does she get her protein?

How are her bones going to grow without cow’s milk?

You mean she’s never eaten bacon?

Are you a communist?

At Baby Sky’s 15 month checkup she landed at about the 75th percentile for height and weight. She comes from small stock, so I do see that decreasing a bit. It’s already down from the 90th percentile. She was a gigantic baby!

She has been sick twice, once with a viral infection and once with a bacterial one (strep). We’ve been fortunate enough to have avoided the dreaded first trip to the emergency room, which is a tad surprising because the child is a fearless, avid explorer with a lot of energy. A lot.

Her nutrition came from Earth’s Best organic soy formula for the first year, and since then she’s been eating non-baby food supplemented by a bottle of Baby’s Only organic soy formula (designed for toddlers and can be used until age 3). I use half water and half organic carrot juice and organic apple juice. I made some pureed food for her for a couple of months but she wasn’t really that interested and I was a bit concerned until after her first birthday, when she decided to eat everything.

Her favorite breakfast? A plate of strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries and peaches, followed by banana ice cream. Banana ice cream = frozen bananas + ground flax seeds + raw cashew butter + raw almond butter + almond milk + Vita Mix. Plenty of fat, protein, omega-3s and yumminess. I eat it, too. Saturday morning is pancake morning. Spelt, oat bran, whole wheat, coconut flour. Blueberries and bananas. Or not. Maybe even some 80% dark chocolate (slavery-free, care of Equal Exchange–Panama’s the kind we get). Of course she eats a bunch of batter first, then a couple of pancakes.

Her favorite lunch? Vegetable hummus + avocado on whole wheat pita bread. Dessert? Brown rice pudding (brown rice + a warm mixture of toffuti cream cheese, tofu and coconut butter). Her favorite snack? Roasted zucchini sprinkled with Daiya in a pool of marinara. She’ll eat an entire zucchini. She loves kale chips. Ditto for vanilla soy yogurt. Steel cut oats? Yummy. Snow balls are a huge favorite (ground organic raisins, dates, almond and walnuts rolled in shredded coconut). As far as drinks go, she has one that looks and tastes similar to chocolate milk, made with almond milk and chocolate-flavored Amazing Grass Kidz Superfood. And then there’s “fruit punch,” or, orange juice + water + the wildberry Kidz Superfood. She doesn’t walk around drinking straight wheat grass–Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Dinner? Sweet potatoes with navy beans. Garbanzo bean salad, mashed a bit (her molars are still giant blisters). Any kind of gardein, chopped, with sauteed asparagus, is always a great meal. Smoothies, complete with orange juice, raw fruits, raw nut butters and a handful of kale. Delicious!

On the non-food green front, we used cloth diapers and then practiced Elimination Communication since month 10, and Baby Sky now pees and poops in her potty and doesn’t wear a diaper except at night (and that’s probably about to change). She’s napping right now, diaper free. During the diaper months, rather than wipes, I used receiving blankets cut up into smallish squares and a squirt bottle of water. We still use the cut up blankets as rags/in place of paper towels.

The toy rule is pretty much: Little or no plastic and no batteries. She has a lot of wood toys and I’m queasy about where the wood came from, so that’s not ideal. Otherwise, her room looks very sparse. And yellow. Very yellow (we used a no VOC paint, at least). But that’s another story.

For a short time, Sky slept in a crib (secondhand, from a neighbor) with a (new) coconut coir mattress, but now she sleeps on a full size futon on the floor (formerly of one of the guest rooms upstairs–so no purchase necessary!). It’s a Montessori thing. And let me be the first one to say that bassinetts and cribs are a complete waste of money; all you need is a mattress on the floor and some firm pillows surrounding it (for the early months).

Sky doesn’t have a lot of stuff and I don’t have a lot of gear. She spends most of her time outside, naked (it’s still nearly 90 degrees here), exploring the world. She has very few pieces of clothing (and most are secondhand) and many of her books and toys are secondhand (and we had to weed through them for animal use). There are several girls a bit older than Sky on the block who give us lots of goodies. And there’s one younger. The younger one gets the loot as soon as that’s appropriate, and/or I donate them to the local Foster and Adoptive Parents Association.

So far, no one has been interested in trying cloth diapers, and stores won’t take them, so if anyone has any need for them, speak now before they become rags!

Sky’s days wouldn’t be complete without her constant companion, Emily Fokker (our chunky FIP kitty). They follow each other around all day and rub their faces on each other. It’s adorable! Violet Rays, being nearly 12 and nearly blind, isn’t as keen on the child. Or any other child. Or the cat. Or anyone else, for that matter. I think she likes me but that’s about it. Plus, only the trained eye would be able to determine that she likes me.

I mention this because all too often people surrender their dogs–or even cats–once they have children. I’ll refrain from ranting. But what I will say is that you work at it. I have taught Sky to stay away from Violet. If Violet approaches her Sky may touch her, but only with one finger. Sky gives her a wide berth when she walks around her, and yes, it’s a bummer that Sky is a little afraid of dogs. But that’s far better than Sky not respecting them and then having them feel they must defend themselves. The most Violet will do is bark and show her four teeth, but trust me when I say that her boney, old, alpha self can make a grown man jump in fear when she wants to, all without ever laying a paw on him.

There you have it: a rough sketch of Baby Sky’s life. If you have any questions about anything we do or use, fire away! No matter what your beliefs are, when you’re a parent you educate yourself about parenting style, nutrition (and Ginny Messina‘s fabulous Vegan for Life recently arrived and includes nutrition information as well as sample menus for kids!) and formal education options (if you’re lucky enough to have options). I may be a vegan and an atheist, but I’m really just a parent doing the best I can to give my child the best life possible.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lindsay #

    I would love to try cloth diapers next time around. When I had my daughter I didn't know anyone that used cloth diapers and I didn't think of it as an option. Thanks for this article my family thinks I'm crazy for feeding my daughter vegan so it always makes me feel better to read about others doing the same.

    October 14, 2011
  2. CQ #

    Wow, Sky eats more healthy food — and more variety of foods — than any baby I know, or any one I know, period!

    How much time do you spend shopping for the ingredients and preparing the meals, Mary? I think it would take me all day to find these products in the store, not to mention fix them in a way that would be palatable to a youngster!

    With these specialty items (coconut flour, for example), is your grocery bill higher than if you were to buy, say, regular white flour? Or do you buy in bulk? Do you cook the beans from scratch?

    Sounds like you could open an organic vegan restaurant someday! You already have one happy, healthy customer.

    October 15, 2011
  3. Deirdré #

    Seems to me you work really hard at making sure sky has a very balanced diet :) most parents get pretty lazy once their kids are in the world! Sounds like she has a great life. I have a 15 month old son and i can't help but buy cute clothes and toys I love the excitement a new simple toy will bring although I should use some restraint as our home is getting over run with Devy's things :)

    October 17, 2011
  4. Rachel #

    It doesn't get asked of us. Perhaps because my daughter came in at 4.9kgs at birth and has been off the growth charts ever since. :)

    October 17, 2011
  5. I really do admire your dedication to sound food choices. Most parents I see settle for a bag of Fish cheddar crackers and a serving of nuggets as nutrition. Hooray on you and good for Sky!

    In fact most of the meals your making are quite suitable at any age – It would be a better diet than most are eating now!

    Wonderful that arrangement is being worked out between her and Violet – That must take a lot of patience too… But there aren't any choices – So I'm sure it will all take care of itself in time…

    Keep that baby naked in the sun – thriving and happy! It's all just as it ought to be! <3

    October 20, 2011
  6. Teriqua Jones #

    Great Article. I don't think many parents have true patience like Sky's Mom.
    Kids are allowed to eat bad things. Chicken nuggets are a favorite among kids. Really, not that healthy. But there is a vegetable protein Nugget that is much healthier and your kids won't know unless you tell them or they see the bag. They are made in the oven but if you must, you can also fry them. I think kids will eat a wider variety of food if it's available. I've found the best way to work with a picky eater is silence. Eventually, they get hungry and will happily eat the re-heated dinner they turned their nose up at earlier.

    I have to say, I am impressed with Sky's Mom.

    Last to all the parents who are overly concerned about junior's eating… HOT DOGS! YIKES! Better they miss a meal than eat the stuff that's barely fit for human consumption.

    November 17, 2011
  7. lisa barnes #

    I became a vegetarian when I was 5 years old in a family of meateaters and a Daddy that was an avid hunter and fisherman. Needless to say my parents thought that there was something wrong with me and took me to a nutritionist, physcologist and my pediatrician and after all of them told my parents that I would probably grow out of it, to leave me alone,just to make sure I got enough protien by eating nuts and lentils. I am now 50 years old, still a vegatarian in very good health, and have never been in the hospital for any reason. Living proof that a child who doesnt eat animal protien will survive and thrive.

    November 27, 2011
  8. It will really be a great idea to start healthy eating habits even at a young age. Starting early will surely become the reason for health to be kept in the best shape.

    December 15, 2011
  9. Bacon? Communists? Seriously? I’ve never had anything close to that level of… whatever that is! Oddly, we have had “she isn’t growing enough” even though our daughter was off-the-charts for the 1st 2 years… Vegans are always held to a higher standard.

    April 21, 2012

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