Hello again, mamas! Today I thought we would talk about pregnancy cravings! A ‘fun’ little side affect of pregnancy that seem to make as much sense (and remain about as consistent) as your fluctuating hormones. As I move closer to my due date, I’ve been reflecting a lot about how vastly different my two pregnancies have been. With my daughter, I was an apple eating machine! This little guy opened up a black whole within me that sought to be filled(and yet never was) by pad Thai…
I have to say how grateful I am to be a vegan today. There are just so many delicious alternatives available, which can be a real life saver (literally!). When cravings get intense, they can tempt both new and seasoned vegans alike! Having some go to alternatives, or at least knowing your options can really take the pressure off when navigating vegan pregnancy cravings!
Ice ‘Cream’ Worth Screaming For!
I have been all about sweet this pregnancy, even the pad Thai! Pies, cakes, candies, chocolate, specialty coffees, you name it, if its loaded with sugar, I want it! Now, since even grown-ups can’t have desert for every meal (sorry kids!), I am sure to keep a variety of dried and fresh fruits on hand for snaking. Of course, I do have a few favorites when it’s time to indulge!
Even though this summer has been on the chilly side, ice cream has still been top of my list when I’m looking for something rich and chocolaty! Luckily my local Safeway spoils me for choice and I am often faced with the wonderfully agonizing dilemma of having to pick just one. Okay, maybe two…
Häagen-Dazs’ Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge (Non-Dairy) is as rich and creamy as peanut butter should be and their Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle (Non-Dairy) can help you tackle even the most intense chocolate craving! And if you are looking for something a little more traditional, So Delicious Coconut Sandwich Minis are a fun twist on a childhood favorite!
Fast Food Friendly!
Pregnant or not, it certainly isn’t hard to get wrapped up in the fast food frenzy that seems to have our society gripped. Whether out of convenience or craving, fast food is tempting and with the list of plant based options growing by the day, it’s easier than ever to grab something on the go. Beyond Meat burgers have been dominating the market lately, appearing on
menu boards from A&W (my personal fav!) to Tim Hortons. Lightlife has recently popped up at Harvey’s so now vegans can have it their way too and places like Panago and Pizza 73 offer a variety of plant based meat and dairy alternatives!
My personal favorite so far is the Beyond Meat Burger from A&W (ask them to add extra A&W seasoning!); their burgers are seasoned well and are easily made vegan! In the mood for pizza? I can’t say enough good things about Pizza 73! You can build the pizza of your dreams with toppings like vegan sausage, meatless pepperoni and a host of delicious vegetable toppings! Panago is also a great choice, they have a sizable and creative list of pre-made plant based pizza options you can choose from or of course you can build your own custom pizza as well.
Feeling something different, tonight? Subway is a fantastic option as a 12-inch veggie delight is only around $6 and can be customized to your liking. They also offer a variety of vegan friendly bread and sauce options, I have been obsessed with the Sweet Onion sauce myself! And there is no way I could round out this section without mentioning Thai Express, home of the amazing Pad Thai with Tofu that was my life for the first bit of my pregnancy. Amazing option if you are looking for something with a touch of sweetness and loaded with perfectly sauteed veggies!
Feeling a little salty today, mama? We got you covered! Be it pickles or popcorn (or even dill pickle popcorn!) there is something out there to satisfy your salty side!
I myself have always had a weakness for popcorn (chips being a nearly indistinguishable second…); I mean, what’s not to love? It’s warm and melty and there is just something about that salty butter running down your fingers that is pure bliss. Luckily there are many vegan friendly versions of this ‘buttery’ treat that are readily available from your local grocers and even at places like Dollarama. There are certainly no shortage of salty (and any other junk food flavor) at these types of stores, but what if you’re looking for something a shade on the healthier side, that will still satisfy your cravings?
We all know that too much salt can lead to a host of health problems from water retention to painful kidney stones. Women in their third trimester are more suceptable to water retention, although it is important to note that health issues caused by excess sodium are not caused by pregnancy and can affect both men and women alike. While no one should feel guilty for indulging in some treats from time to time, it never hurts to have a few other options available!
So, what do I reach for when I need salt but can’t reason away buying ANOTHER bag of chips this week? Pea Pops! This product is grown and made in Canada by a company called Three Farmers. These surprisingly flavorful little peas are crunchy and loaded with flavor! As someone who made a habit of buying “family size” chips, the bag did appear a bit small to me at first. Don’t let this fool you! They are resealable for a reason! Those little peas are not only bursting with flavor, they are also surprisingly filling. There are currently four flavors available: Lightly Salted, Dill Pickle Pow (fantastic if you like dill pickle chips/popcorn!), Sriracha Slap and Wild Ranch. Each option is vegan, nut and gluten free (and all the flavors except the lightly salted are non GMO as well). They are low in fat and high in fiber and protein, making them a tasty and sensible alternative to chips. In addition to a Pops, the Three Farmers brand also offers Crunchy Little Lentils and Crunch Roasted Chickpeas, each in a variety of flavors.
Calming the Carnivore
I don’t know many vegans that woke up one morning hating the taste of bacon. I think it’s a widely held misconception that vegans don’t experience cravings for meat, or worse, that a vegan craving meat testifies to the “necessity” of including meat in our diets.
Animal based foods like meat and dairy contain opiates, among other drug like chemicals, that are released into our bodies as we digest them and cause addictive responses.
The University of Michigan conducted a study which indicated that the more processed and fatty a food is, the more likely it is to cause addictive eating behavior. It’s no surprise that when filling out the Yale Food Addiction Scale questionnaire many participants reported having a hard time controlling their intake of foods like pizza, steak, bacon, cheeseburgers and ice cream. Cheese is thought to be particularly addictive because of the casein (milk protein) it contains which releases opiates called casomorphins into the brain.
Thankfully, Dr. Neal Barnard (author of Breaking the Food Seduction) insists it takes just three weeks to kick cravings for addictive foods like meat and cheese. This is likely why there has been such popularity surrounding 21-day vegan eating plans. Allowing these chemicals to exit the body does wonders to loosen their hold over us in the same way that someone quitting smoking experiences relief from their cravings over time.
Okay, well that gives us some insight into why the transition period to veganism is often a challenging one, but what does that have to do with my pregnancy cravings?
My transition to veganism was very abrupt, as there were other omnivores in the house I didn’t need to worry about using up the animal products in my home and I quit cold Turkey (pardon the expression). That didn’t make the cravings for meat and dairy any less intense mind you!
By the time I became pregnant with our second, I was sure that my days of craving animal products (at least the strong ones) were behind me. Boy, was I wrong! I was taken aback at the intensity of my cravings, considering I had never been a big meat eater even before going vegan.
In desperation I reached out to the vegan community and was surprised how many other Mama’s (both new and seasoned vegans alike) were or had been in the same boat. What I have found through my own experience is that there is no magic fix to these cravings.
Like any of the others we have talked about today, having delicious alternatives on hand is a great way to satisfy your cravings without compromising on your beliefs. Having a strong support system in place is hugely important and can really help you stay on track. Most importantly, give yourself a break. You aren’t bad for having a craving and if you aren’t the devil if you do happen to consume an animal product. I have seen so many women beat themselves up over a slip and it breaks my heart. Veganism is about love and that includes showing love for yourself.
If you are struggling with animal based cravings and aren’t able to find the support you need from friends and family, reach out to your vegan community! The vegan culture within many cities is growing rapidly and there is an ever expanding online presence.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and right here on TheVeganMama.net are great places to connect with vegans from around the world! I am also a huge fan of sites like YouTube and Pinterest for getting new and exciting recipe ideas.
Well Mamas, we have reached the end of another post. I hope you found some useful tips or encouragement in todays content. There is a lot of challenges we face during pregnancy, and while cravings seem like such a frivolous concern, when we are constantly longing for things we know aren’t best for baby or go against our beliefs as vegans, it can really begin to take an emotional toll.
Now, there are plenty of cravings we didn’t cover here, like fruits, veggies, nuts and grains and extreme cravings like dirt or chalk. Craving something with little or no nutritional value (you know, besides junk food…) can be an indication of Pica, a condition that is more typically manifested in children but can surface during pregnancy. While the exact cause of Pica during pregnancy is unknown, it is thought to be linked to underlying issues such as iron deficiency and in some cases may be indicative of an emotional or mental unbalance.
As always, pay attention to your body. While cravings (even the seemingly strange ones) are a totally normal part of pregnancy, a persistent craving for a particular food (and certainly cravings for non-food items) may indicate that your body is low in a particular vitamin or nutrient. If you have any concerns or are simply curious about your cravings – or anything about your pregnancy- speak to your care provider right away.
I’m dying to know, what have you Mama’s been craving this pregnancy? If this isn’t your first, have you noticed any differences in your cravings between this pregnancy, and your previous one(s)? What are your favorite craving quashers? Let me know in the comments below!