StorkNet interview with
Holly Roberts, D.O., FACOG Board-Certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist
Author of
Your Vegetarian Pregnancy: A Month-by-Month Guide to Health and Nutrition

Dear StorkNet members,

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, one of four children. Although my family held traditional dietary beliefs, even from early childhood, I always felt sad when eating and taking life from other animals. It was when I reached thirteen years of age that my parents permitted me to totally eliminate all meat-fish-chicken from my diet.

It was also at the age of 13 that I decided to become a physician. After having an emergency appendectomy, I realized that the surgeon had saved my life, and I resolved that I, too, must someday help to save other people's lives.

I went to Brooklyn College (night school), and then Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery in Missouri. In my class of 108 students, we had 106 men and 2 women (times were different). When I graduated, the honor society awarded me the certificate for highest class rank. I loved learning medicine, and particularly the humble respectful training we received that 'a physician can only assist in healing, it is the patient's mind and body that must truly help them to heal themselves.'

When I graduated, I completed a rotating internship, and then two years of an Obstetrics & Gynecology residency at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan.

I left to become a medical missionary. I was a volunteer in Honduras, Mexico, and Peru. When I came back, I decided to begin a Pathology residency to learn about third world diseases, (as I planned to be a missionary at that time in my life).

I met my husband (of 29 years) shortly thereafter, and 'life' changed my plans. We married one month later, and by the end of that year had one child. Within three years, we had our three children (all daughters).

I finished my Pathology residency, learning much about the causes, treatments, and physiology of all diseases. I became an attending pathologist at Cook County Hospital in Chicago (we moved there for my husband's job).

When our lives stabilized, I went back to complete my OB-GYN residency at U. of Tenn in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After completing it, I took a fellowship in Gynecologic-Oncology (cancer surgery for women) at John's Hopkins University.

Then we came back to New Jersey, I opened my own OB-GYN practice, and we remained there for almost 20 years. We raised our children, I worked very hard, and was blessed that my husband helped me so much with our children, so that I was able to dedicate myself to my patients.

We raised our daughters vegetarian, and they all feel the humanitarian essence of this. They all completed college with academic achievements, and although they are petite, two played College Ice Hockey for four years (as vegetarians).

During those years, I also served as the physician for our County Battered Woman's Shelter, and as the Rape Physician for our county's 'Rape Survivor program.'

When I felt fulfilled with my years as a physician and mother, I left clinical medicine (at least for now), to write and study. I feel a need to share much of my knowledge and understanding about the causes of disease with others.

My first book is this present one 'Your Vegetarian Pregnancy.' I'm finalizing a book on 'Vegetarian Saints' showing values of Gandhian non-violence (ahimsa) in 150 Christian Saints, and I'm in the early phases of a book relating women's diseases to diet, particularly non-vegetarian foods, toxins, pesticides, lifestyles, weight, lack of exercise, etc to women's disease.

I also obtained a Master's in Theology, and I'm obtaining a Ph.D. in 'Asian Religion & Philosophy.' My hope is that someday I will be able to integrate and write about my understanding of health and illness as this relates to various paths and cultural lifestyles.

Particularly, I hope eventually to write about the 'Health of Nonviolence at all levels of existence (ecologically, toward animals, and toward our fellow human beings). I feel that if we do not learn to peacefully co-exist with our environment and others on this planet, we will forfeit our chance for future humans to ever see good health.

I look forward to chatting with you in this interview.

Take care and blessings,
Holly

Your Vegetarian Pregnancy
A Month-by-Month Guide to Health and Nutrition
.

Amazon U.S.
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Dr. Roberts is a board certified Obstetrician, and she has been a vegetarian, a physician, and a mother for over twenty-five years. She wrote Your Vegetarian Pregnancy to educate young women in their quest for answers about diet and health. She combines essential obstetrical information with sound nutrition guidance.

We invite you to read about Your Vegetarian Pregnancy in our book review area to familiarize yourself with Dr. Holly Robert's topics.

Five lucky participants, chosen at random, have won a free copy of Your Vegetarian Pregnancy! Congratulations to: Sara, Sherri, Dan, Kristen, and Cera. Thank you, Dr. Roberts.


Libby: I see meals in the supermarket for different types of vegetarians (ie vegan, lacto, ovo, etc.). Can you explain the differences? Thank you.

Dr. Holly Roberts: Libby, vegetarian foods are often labeled as 'vegan, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, or lacto-ovo-vegetarian.' This is to help specific vegetarians make their food choices. The sequence works as follows:

Basically, for any food to be considered vegetarian, it must not contain the flesh (muscle) of an animal - meat, fowl, or fish.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian foods, however, although devoid of animal flesh may contain components derived from both dairy products and from eggs. These products are still considered vegetarian, as they can be obtained without causing the direct loss of life of the animal, but rather are derived from animal by-products.

Lacto-vegetarian foods are also vegetarian foods, yet contain elements derived from an animal's (usually a cow's) milk. So such foods may contain milk, cheese, yogurt. This includes a wide variety of foods, such as puddings, cakes, custards, butter, ice cream and the whey used as a filler in many foods.

Ovo-vegetarian foods contain products originally derived from either the yoke or white of eggs. Therefore, many cakes, cookies, and even meringue represent ovo-vegetarian foods.

Now, vegan foods are the purest form of vegetarian foods. In addition to being free of animal flesh (and fat), they are also free of all dairy byproducts and eggs.

Although I am still only a lacto-vegetarian (I eat cheese and away from my home drink hot chocolate (which may or may not be processed with milk), I undoubtedly recognize the vegan lifestyle to be the most humane. Although consuming milk and egg derived foods do not 'directly' take the life of an animal, they 'indirectly' do.

For example, when we consume dairy products, we are supporting the preferential sustaining of life of a dairy (female) cow, and the death of a male one. As it behooves the dairy industry to sustain the life of dairy cows to obtain milk (and baby calves), they find these worth raising and feeding. When a male calf is born, however, only a few are needed, (female are inseminated to breed). So baby male cows are just a 'by-product' of the dairy industry, and are inhumanely treated and slaughtered as veal - merely innocent male calves who lose their lives at 16 weeks of age.

A similar corollary exists in the egg industry. When female baby chicks are hatched, it is worth the industry's while to breed them as egg-layers. When tiny male chicks are hatched (a byproduct of the industry), almost all are immediately placed on conveyer belts, dumped into large plastic bags, suffocated, squashed and fed to cows.

That is why vegans are very committed to their principles of adhering to strictly vegan foods. They value the life of any animal that might lose its life either directly or indirectly through their actions.

Food for Thought
Even jello is not a vegetarian food, as components of horse's hoofs are used in its processing.

When buying any 'processed' vegetarian foods, please read the food labels for the salt (sodium) content and compare these before you buy them. Some are excessively high in sodium, and you may suffer the consequence of swollen ankles the next day if you happen to choose one of these.

Sara: I'm nursing a 18-month-old right now. So far we have determined she has allergies to dairy, soy, and corn. I'm having a hard time fielding questions from well-meaning family members about how my daughter will get enough protein and calcium. MIL insists that our bodies don't use protein from vegetarian sources as easily as those from meat. Can you give me some info on this subject so that I can put other's doubts to rest? As a rule, my family, including my daughter, eats a whole foods diet - whole grains, healthy oils (primarily olive), and of course lots of beans, fresh fruits, and veggies. Is there anything particular I should address, considering my daughter's somewhat limited diet? Thanks!

Dr. Holly Roberts: Actually, many people are allergic to dairy products, as well as to soy. In fact, 90% of entire ethnic groups cannot tolerate dairy products - including African Americans, and many sects of Jewish and Middle-Eastern groups. Yet these cultures have existed without intake of dairy, and without the availability of soybeans for thousands of years.

There are numerous sources of protein within the vegetarian diet. In particular, almost all beans and lentils are sources of protein, and have supplied the nation of India with its protein supply for generations. The availability of all sorts of nut-butters (peanut, almond, and cashew butter can be a great supplement for your daughter. Contrary to common knowledge, many greens are high in protein. Over 45% of the calories obtained from broccoli and spinach are from protein.

With your daughter's specific allergies to dairy, soy, and corn, she will still have no difficulty consuming all the essential amino acids she needs for optimum healthy growth and development.

Please tell your mother-in-law that you appreciate her concern, but the belief that our bodies do not use protein from vegetarian foods as effectively as protein from non-vegetarian sources is no longer considered true.

For your daughter's supply of calcium, please remember that much of the world exists with limited, if any, supply of dairy. (If you have even tasted dairy in third world countries and many regions of Latin America, you will recognize that it consists mostly of water, with only a small tinge of milk). There are many food sources of calcium, including enriched cereals, Blackstrap molasses, and greens. That is not even mentioning the many calcium supplements available. Your pediatrician will be able to advise you as to which vitamin sources she believes will best fulfill her calcium requirement, and these will probably also include vitamin D and magnesium.

Food for Thought
We have been led to believe that osteoporosis is a disease of insufficient calcium intake. Our nation is the nation with the most abundant supply of dairy products, and the highest rates of osteoporosis.

What we are not being told is that osteoporosis is also a disease of 'increased calcium excretion.' We excrete calcium in our urine when we eat foods with many 'negative' ions, as these bind with the 'positive ion of calcium (CA++). The foods that top the list in containing ''negative' ions are: animal protein, alcohol, phosphorus (used in carbonation of beverages), and wheat. Therefore, as your vegetarian daughter will not be eating 'hamburger on a bun, with soda' you will be fulfilling a very important role in helping her maintain strong bones.

Kristen: My sister is pregnant and she's vegetarian. She's getting almost all her protein from soybeans and garbanzo beans. I think she should find more sources and would like to make suggestions. Can you help? Thank you ahead of time.

Dr. Holly Roberts: Dear Kristen, First, to alleviate your fears. You stated that your sister obtains most of her protein from soy products and garbanzo beans. I would imagine, however, that she is obtaining a continuous supply of small quantities of protein from numerous other sources, including enriched breads and cereals, peanut butter and other nut butters, nuts, lentils, sunflower seeds, and all sorts of green vegetables. If you imagine your sister as a meat-eater obtaining most protein from one meat, and the rest from the remaining of her diet, you would not worry. Actually, you need not worry about your sister.

From beans and soy, she is able to obtain almost all of her essential amino acids 'lysine, methionine, and tryptophane.' Actually, if she just ate just a few sunflower seeds or nuts, then we would be ensured that she definitely would have obtained all she required. Please think of all the people in Asia fulfilling all their protein needs through soy products, and all the people in India fulfilling all their protein needs through beans, grains, and vegetables.

If you are still worried, please tempt your sister with a variety of Ethnic bean dishes to encourage her to vary her bean choices. For example, you can take her to eat Mediterranean Hummus tahini, Mexican rice and beans, Chinese yellow bean cake, and an Indian lentil curry. Hope you have fun doing so.

Dan: My wife hasn't eaten milk products in over five years and she's suddenly craving cheese. Will this create any problems for her to start eating it again now? If so, do you have any alternatives to suggest? Does this mean she's low in calcium? She's 4 months pregnant. Thank you.

Dr. Holly Roberts: It will be quite difficult to know why your wife is suddenly craving cheese now that she is pregnant, yet it is not surprising. The cravings that occur during pregnancy are often beyond anyone's comprehension. I do believe that she must be deficient in some nutrient, or in some balance of nutrients, yet I cannot say what that might be. It is not really possible to determine through a blood test if she is deficient in calcium, as the body tends to maintain a stable blood calcium level, even if an individual's bones are deficient.

She probably will not experience any adverse side-effects if she begins to eat cheese. Although people who have been vegetarian for many years often experience diarrhea if they suddenly consume meat, a similar corollary does not usually occur when people restart dairy products.

Now as to what element in the cheese your wife might be craving, it might be the salt, the fat, the soothing effect it may have on her intestinal lining, the calcium, the calories, or some trace nutrient as of yet undetermined. She can attempt to enhance her diet with additional calcium supplements or calcium-fortified cereal, Yet I would imagine that by the time you read this response, your wife will have fulfilled her cravings with cheese. Neither you nor I can stop the instincts of a pregnant woman, and I do not believe we should. We should just observe her needs and try to learn from them.

Food for thought
If your wife does decide to eat cheese, she might do well to start with a low fat variety. After years of avoiding foods with such a high fat-content as cheese, consuming them now might cause her to experience sudden waves of nausea, and she might revisit her meal in reverse.

Deborah: I am worried about my protein intake as I don't really like beans/lentils on a regular basis. I am eating cheese and yogurt to help but know it's not adequate. I cannot stand fish but will eat shrimp but I have to limit that because of my cholesterol problem. I have been eating soy burgers/products for the last 3 years but since I've become pregnant, whenever I eat them I get unbearable gas problems. My ob/gyn said I can eat a protein bar to supplement as well but I know I'm not getting the 75-90 grams of protein a day I should be getting. Is there something else I can eat to help with my protein needs?

Dr. Holly Roberts: You actually have a two part question. Your first concern is a general one about getting enough protein, and your second is about the cholesterol in shrimp.

Protein:
In reference to obtaining enough protein, you really only need, at most, 60 grams of protein daily (average over several days) during your pregnancy, and 65 daily while you're nursing. As you consume dairy products, I'll bet you're getting this amount without even realizing it. For example: If you have a cup of yogurt for breakfast (15 gms), a lettuce, tomato, and cheese sandwich for lunch (2 slices cheese 10+ GMs) on 2 slices whole grain bread (9 GMs), and sautéed tofu (3/4 cup - 30 GMs) with broccoli (1 cup 6 GMs) - you will have easily surpassed your required amount of protein. And, this is without even considering all the other foods you will have eaten with these few staples!

Eating a protein bar as a snack is fine, but please check to make sure your particular protein bar has been derived from vegetarian sources and that it is not filled with unnecessary chemicals. Its important to remember, that you're not just looking for quantity, but also quality.

Shrimp:
As you are predominantly a vegetarian, yet sometimes eat fish, your question about shrimp is a very good one. Years back, people used to worry about the high level of cholesterol present in certain shellfish, such as shrimp, lobster, and crabs. But then, other researchers began to look at the whole picture and wonder why certain North American Inuit Indians, groups who lived almost entirely on fish, had almost no atherosclerosis deposited in their blood vessels.

The bigger picture is that other nutrients present within these shell fish, specifically polyunsaturated fatty acids, actually prevent cholesterol from being deposited in blood vessel walls - so it cannot cause harm. And actually, they also prevent cholesterol from other foods eaten at the same time from being deposited in blood vessel walls. The most common of these fatty acids are the omega-3-fatty acids.

In addition to this positive effect, eating shrimp helps to raise a persons high density lipids (the good cholesterol that prevents heart attacks), and lower their triglycerides - another lipid that can contribute to atherosclerosis. So in effect, although the total 'cholesterol level' may be high after eating shrimp, much of this is due to the presence of the good variant. Therefore, if you are consuming fish, you need not worry that by eating shrimp you will cause atherosclerotic heart disease - you will not.

Erin: Dear Dr. Roberts, I've been thinking of becoming Lacto-vegetarian for awhile now. I eat fish and chicken about twice a week, no red meat. It would be a change in my diet, of course. I'm six weeks pregnant and am wondering if now is the time to make a dietary change? Or should I wait?

Dr. Holly Roberts: Congratulations that you are six weeks pregnant. It will not be difficult, nor dangerous, for you to become lacto-vegetarian at this time. Actually, during pregnancy, many women develop such a distaste for the fatty consistency of fish, fowl, and meat, that they fully avoid these - without even consciously trying to become vegetarian.

You will not affect either your baby's or your health by becoming vegetarian now, and you may actually have less of a problem with weight gain. What you will have to watch out for is that you may not feel satiated. As many vegetarian foods are lower in fats that are animal-derived foods, you may not feel the same sense of appetite suppression that you have been accustomed to on a higher fat diet. Therefore, you may have to eat frequent small meals to feel satiated, or as many vegetarians describe their eating patterns, you may have to 'graze throughout the day.'

This is not detrimental, as pregnant women often need to eat small frequent meals anyway, not to feel nauseated. Please, just make sure your frequent snacks are healthy ones, such as apples with nuts, carrots with Hummus, or celery with cheese. If you keep in mind that by avoiding many animal-derived foods you will be decreasing the amount of hormones, mercury, pesticides, herbicides, and fats you are giving your baby, you will know that you are making a wise choice. Wishing you good luck during your transition.

Sherri: I am 15 weeks pregnant and still nursing my 17 month-old son - who has no intention of letting me wean him. Would you suggest vitamin supplements in order to be sure I'm obtaining enough nutrition for all of us?

Dr. Holly Roberts: As you are 17 weeks pregnant and still nursing, I would definitely suggest taking vitamin supplements. Vegetarian or not, it will be difficult for you to keep up with the needs of the three of you.

Before you simply double your prenatal vitamins, please look at their contents. If they contain vitamin A, it will be prudent not to take two a day. Although it is only the supplemental vitamin A from animal sources that cause fetal deformities (cardiac, eye, and facial, and brain), even if your prenatal vitamin A manufacturer states the product contains only that obtained from plant sources - it is better not to take a chance.

Instead, in addition to your one prenatal vitamin, consider supplementing with a 'B' complex vitamin plus iron (these function well to increase your iron absorption). This will also be the perfect time for you to ask your physician/midwife to check your iron levels.

In addition, please consider taking calcium supplements at another time during the day (remembering that calcium and iron are each absorbed better when not taken at the same time). There is no specific intake of calcium recommended for a woman 'both pregnant and nursing.' Yet, while working in third-world countries, I observed rickets in children of women who repetitively conceived and nursed over many repetitive pregnancies. Your taking one or two 250 mg calcium citrate tablets daily will certainly cause no harm and, if nothing else, will add peace of mind. You certainly have a very dedicated soul - blessings.

Cera: I am currently trying to become pregnant. What foods should I eat to make sure I get enough nutrition for me, and hopefully for my baby-to-be?

Dr. Holly Roberts: Dear Cera, It's reassuring to know you are thinking about your baby's health from the very moment you conceive. As you probably know, it's both the store of nutrients you have within your body, and those nutrients you will give it when it will be a tiny microscopic speck that will affect its development most.

First, please consider starting prenatal vitamins now. This will ensure that you obtain a foundation of nutrients even on those days that you're on the run. These vitamins should contain a general complement of all 'B vitamins' with specific mention of at least 400 micrograms of folic acid (vitamin B 9). Actually, 800 to 1,000 micrograms are desirable to decrease the chances that your baby will be born with spina bifida. Then, eat plenty of foods rich in B vitamins--including beans, enriched breads and cereals, and 'foliage' (greens).

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Please make sure your vitamins do not contain over 25,000 International Units of Vitamin A (possibly referred to as Retinol). If vitamins contain high levels of vitamin A from animal sources, such as from animal liver and fish oils, ingestion of these can lead to birth defects affecting a baby's heart, blood vessels, and nervous system. Presently, there are vitamins available with their vitamin A obtained from plant sources. They might refer such vitamin A as 'Beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A.' Nevertheless, it will be prudent for you to make sure the vitamin A content within any of your vitamins remains well below 25,000 International Units. Also, you need not worry about the vitamin A you obtain from natural vegetation such as carrots, sweet potato, papaya, apricots, or any of the other vegetarian sources.

Next, if you are still eating fish, please eliminate all foods taken from larger fish such as swordfish, shark, mackerel, and tilefish, as well as the fish used in making sushi or tuna steaks. All of these may contain seriously high levels of methylmercury that can increase a child's risk of developmental delays. Also, do not eat canned tuna daily. Although the jury is still out, I would limit intake of canned tuna to once or twice a week.

Lastly, if you look at the dietary guidelines recommended by the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists for pregnant women on pages 56-57 of my book, and then follow through reading of the many food sources that contain these vitamins, you will definitely ensure adequate nutrition for your baby, whether you are vegetarian or not!

Rachael: Dr. Roberts, my mom told me that I should eat meat now that I'm pregnant to protect my baby from being too small. I'm pretty happy with my diet that doesn't include red meat. Does going vegan or vegetarian (Mom) affect baby weight?

Dr. Holly Roberts: Although your mom has stated that you should eat meat to protect your baby from being too small, such is not the case. I'm sure your mom means well, but she probably has not reviewed medical studies, nor has she reviewed those nutrients required to provide a baby with adequate nutrition, and the food sources that can accomplish this.

Meat is a food source that has been greatly valued, and marketed, within our Western culture. Most of the rest of the world, however, does not place such a high value on the 'perceived' nutrition obtained from meat. Actually, most of the world recognizes that 'eating muscle' does not 'create muscle.'

Medical studies have shown that babies of vegetarian mothers weigh 7 ounces less than babies of carnivorous mothers. Therefore, a baby born to a meat eater might weigh 8 pounds 9 ounces, and yours might weigh 8 pounds 2 ounces. (Actually, this might be the deciding factor helping you to avoid a cesarean section for an excessively large baby). Also your baby might be 1/10th of an inch shorter in length.

There is no reason to think your baby will be scrawny, weak, skinny, or in any way unhealthy due to your vegetarian diet. Please rest assured that your diet is healthy and that you might be creating a 'slight edge' on your avoiding a cesarean from not attempting to deliver a huge baby.

Summer: My daughter is six months old and I'm trying to decide if she will be vegetarian like me and her dad. What advice do you have? And, where can I find more information on feeding my baby/child a healthy vegetarian diet, when to start what foods and so forth. Thank you ahead of time.

Dr. Holly Roberts: Dear Summer, I must clarify my answer by stating that I am not a pediatrician, and my knowledge rests predominantly on vegetarian health in adults (pregnant or otherwise). We raised our children as vegetarians basically by sharing with them the same well-rounded vegetarian diets we were eating.

When my children were infants, I felt peace of mind knowing that human milk contains only 5% protein (a much lower protein content than present in cow's milk), and that this low protein source had sustained human life on our planet for centuries. In spite of its low protein content, many women have successfully sustained their babies on breast milk for years.

The best advice I can offer you is to read about nutritional needs of infants, and then extrapolate those needs commonly supplied by meat sources, such as protein, iron, and vitamin B12, to plant-based foods that can fulfill them. Once you develop a foundational template of healthy food sources, you will find your food choices evolving as a instinct - they will become natural to you.

Suzanne: As a breastfeeding mom (and hopefully, soon-to-be pregnant again soon), I'm trying to get more of my protein from non-meat sources. Nuts and nut butters seem like a really good way to do that, but I've read that exposing a fetus or breastfeeding child to nuts could make them more likely to be allergic. Is that true?

Dr. Holly Roberts: I am not familiar with the concept that exposing a fetus to nuts and nut-butters will increase his chances of becoming allergic to them. If that were so, than we might observe similar allergies occurring in newborns when their mothers had consumed milk, strawberries, pork, or soy - other foods to which people are often allergic.

I believe that you can safely consume nuts, but please vary the type rather than limiting your choice to only peanuts. That's because a mold, aflatoxin, often grows on the surface of peanuts and can cause cancer. Therefore, it will be prudent for you to vary your diet to include pecan, cashew, and almond nuts and butters.

Cheyenne: I have been a lacto ovo veggie for many years. I had a very low pre-pregnancy weight of 100 and I'm 5 ft 3in. I am in my 8th (33 weeks) month and have gained 42 pounds! My doctor is hassling me about the weight but I feel that my diet is healthy. She knows very little about the vegetarian diet and seems to believe I'm doing something wrong. I have been checked for high blood pressure, swelling, diabetes..... nothing! Am I ok, is this bad for my baby? Help!

Dr. Holly Roberts: Because your pre-pregnancy weight was only 100 pounds, your weight gain of 42 pounds by your thirty-third week of pregnancy does not seem terrible! For women who are underweight (twenty pounds below their desired weight) beginning pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that they gain 28 to 40 pounds over the duration of their pregnancy. It is important to remember that all of the weight is not on 'you.' It is proportioned between your baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, enlarged uterus, your breasts, your dilated blood vessels filled with blood, and then finally, your baby fat stores. So you will probably retain some weight after pregnancy, but as a vegetarian and a health conscious woman, you'll probably lose most of it.

Rebecca: I am trying to create healthy eating habits for my family. I am interested in offering more vegetarian choices in our diets, especially for my son, age 3, who prefers carbohydrates - breads, pastas, etc. While I am not looking to completely eliminate meats and dairy, what would be a good way to introduce a more "vegetarian-based" diet to a family of "picky eaters" and what are some good vegetarian choices for children?

Dr. Holly Roberts: To introduce vegetarian foods without totally disrupting your family's patterns, particularly for your three year old who prefers carbohydrates, you will simply be able to modify choices. For example:

Veggie burgers instead of meat burgers
Grilled portabella instead of grilled steak
Fried veggies (cauliflower & broccoli) instead of fish sticks
Caesar salad with fried tofu, instead of with chicken pieces
Tomato, alfalfa and tofu sandwich instead of ham sandwich
Best of all, you will open your family to a whole world of exciting dishes.

Cheri: I am 6 weeks pregnant (for the first time) and also a vegan for 10 years and vegetarian for a total of 16 years. I found myself craving for shrimp lately and having aversions to normal foods I used to enjoy such as tofu, broccoli and other vegetables. I am concerned about not getting enough nutrients (esp. protein), as I couldn't manage to eat/finish my vegan foods, esp. during dinner time (e.g., I eat only a couple of small bites, then I feel nauseated and want to vomit). I am experiencing bad morning sickness in the late afternoon and evening, feeling nauseated, very tired and lack of energy. I also noticed that almost every food I eat in the late afternoon and night leaves a very sour taste in my mouth. Do you know what's causing this and what can I do about it? In regards to my shrimp cravings, I can't imagine myself eating meat ever gain and I know I will feel guilty if I eat shrimp (as I don't believe and support any form of animal cruelty, directly or indirectly), but I don't know what to do. Please advice. Thank you!

Dr. Holly Roberts: I'm sorry you are having such bad morning sickness. Sometimes nothing works perfectly or consistently well for the sour taste of morning sickness. But you may want to try meals with ginger (ginger tea, ginger ale soda, or grated ginger on your foods), as well as with lemon, vinegar, or dry carbohydrates (e.g. dry crackers).

When morning sickness is so bad, some women cannot even worry about nutrition, because they have to worry about obtaining any caloric intake at all. If this is your situation, you will have to ensure you're getting all your nutrients through vitamin supplements (Preferably in the evening, as some B vitamins if taken in the morning can worsen morning sickness).

You may be able to satisfy your craving for shrimp simply by putting 'shrimp cocktail sauce' on your tofu. I believe you will find it amazing how the tofu absorbs the taste of the sauce and will fully satiate your craving.

StorkNet: Thank you very much for joining us, Dr. Roberts. Your answers will benefit our many vegetarian pregnancies on StorkNet. We highly recommend Your Vegetarian Pregnancy as a very beneficial way of having confidence that nutritional guidelines are being met for both mother and baby. We hope you'll be back again.

Dr. Holly Roberts: Thank you for this opportunity to chat with StorkNet members. I've truly enjoyed it. I wish everyone peace, love and blessings in your journey. If I can be of help in the future, please let me know.

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