Vegan Pregnancy; the Weekly Update: Vegan Weight Loss Challenge

Week 11
by guestblogger Elise

[This is week 11, of our 12 week series. If you joined the challenge, remember to update us!]

We’ve been doing some travelling, as I mentioned last week. And it can be difficult to live vegan in someone else’s house. But we’re home now, and I get to cook again. And this week I made this.

I also have to mention that I have really appreciated Janae’s tips over the last couple of weeks.

I want to talk a little bit about why I haven’t been mentioning results lately. A few weeks into this challenge, I discovered that I am expecting! I am now 15 weeks along. Janae and I had some very helpful conversations about weight loss and pregnancy. She has been vastly helpful. I was hoping that I could lose body fat in the early stages of pregnancy, but she informed me that during pregnancy, our bodies resist the loss of fat.

I should say that I credit a plant-based diet for the vomit-free pregnancy I have had so far. I have been sick with other things, but I did not experience the morning sickness that I have in previous pregnancies (I did feel occasionally nauseated early on, but never actually became sick).

I should say that pregnancy cravings have made me less disciplined than I hope I would be in other circumstances. I have a great deal of admiration for Janae who began this way of life during her second pregnancy!

I look forward to my last week of the challenge!

A note by Janae:
First of all, congrats to Elise! Pregnancy is a WONDERFUL time of life, one to be cherished. This is coming from a woman who experienced three, yes three, pregnancies in three years. And each got progressively more enjoyable. My pregnancies can be categorized as follows:

Pregnancy #1:
1. My job required me to sit and stare at a computer all day=sedentary
2. Ate a TON of fast food (it was the only thing that tasted good? man, my taste buds were ALL out of whack!)=lots of processed SAD food
3. I was so sick for the first 5 months. I threw up nearly every day. Couldn’t be near my husband (I slept on the couch, he slept on the floor next to me; I couldn’t even sleep in our bed it made me sick!)–in fact the first time I threw up was right after he came home and gave me a welcome home kiss. To make matters worse, we were still newly weds!

So it can pretty much be summed up like this:
Sedentary (to my credit I did exercise for most of the pregnancy, loved water aerobics) + SAD food=sick, sick, sick=crazy high blood pressure/toxemia at the end of my pregnancy which caused me to be induced (but I did do it sans the pain meds/epidural)

Pregnancy #2:
Introduction to a plant based diet at about 1 month pregnant. Decided to move towards veganism. Became fully vegan 2 weeks before I gave birth (I still remember my last piece of bacon, not out of fondness either…) and haven’t looked back since!

Pregnancy #3:
My yoga pregnancy. Did (I actually taught the class) yoga 4 times a week, and my body and baby LOVED it! Helped my pregnancy and birth tremendously. Although I’m not able to do yoga as often now, I’m definitely going to do yoga on a regular basis next time I’m with child. Vegan pregnancy, ALMOST all the way. I have to admit there was a time when I just had to have a SNICKERS bar, and a BUTTERFINGER bar. And some Cheetos. Only time I’ve eaten non-vegan foods since making the switch. But overall, great pregnancy, easy-peasy birth (one push and she was out!) and perfect, very easy going baby (seriously, I know you all think I’m lying when I say this, but she has not given us one moment of trouble at all. and aside from a few runny noses, never been sick. could be her personality, but I KNOW being a breast fed, whole foods vegan from conception has definitely been in her favor).

A few words on pregnancy. This is entirely based on my experience and research I’ve done. If you’re currently pregnant and wanting to eat more healthfully, be easy on yourself. Take one day at a time, and focus on eating whole plant foods at every meal/snack, rather than giving yourself some sort of ultimatum, like: “I’m never going to eat an ounce of sugar this pregnancy. Or I’m going completely vegan and won’t eat _____.” This sort of mentality doesn’t work for 99.9% of the population. Especially when you are a hormonal, very sensitive, pregnant woman. Again, speaking from experience, I know with my second pregnancy when I was transitioning to a vegan diet, it took 6 months! I would go for long stretches, eating very well, then I’d just have a craving for such and such, eat it, then feel mostly awful (physically and emotionally–I’d feel guilty). Looking back, and having changed my taste buds over the years, I’ve realized that it takes TIME to change ingrained habits. So enough of the guilt. Just focus on the positive foods and positive choices you’re making for you and your baby, and if you eat a donut or some ice cream (there are various delicious vegan ice creams, btw), at least enjoy it for Pete’s sake, and move forward, continuing to make whole plant foods the staple of your diet.

And consider that when you are pregnant, you are a different person. You’re making a baby! You’re going to need more rest, be more emotional, and basically be more susceptible to making choices on a whim. Maybe this was just me, I don’t know. I guess my main point is, be kind and gentle on yourself and focus on making positive dietary and lifestyle choices rather than setting rigid, unattainable/unrealistic goals for yourself.

About weight loss during pregnancy. Not the time. Your body will do everything it in it’s power to hold onto extra weight. It’s possible to prevent unnecessary weight gain, but to actually lose weight, is nearly impossible (unless you have severe and chronic morning sickness which causes you to literally vomit everything you eat, which is NOT an ideal situation). Also, the whole “eating for two” mentality is, as you know, a little warped. You need, on average 250-300 extra calories in the last two trimesters. That equates to a sandwich or a few extra pieces of fruit a day. Not double or triple servings. But I’m hear to tell you, I know, I know. It’s like as soon as your pregnant, watch out. It’s like someone has switched the appetite gauge to full blast, which means for me, I want to eat ALL the time!

So, if you are pregnant, vegan or not, be kind to yourself. Focus on positive food choices, rather than the one or two things you wish you wouldn’t have done or eaten or “can’t”/”shouldn’t” eat.


  1. Anonymous
    on March 24, 2010 at 1:39 am said:

    Congrats! And I thought I would recommend something that was great for us for pregnancy and birth. I drank red raspberry tea all of my pregnancy and did for the birth. It was tons easier than my first birth without an epidural and my second one with an epidural. Check it out!

  2. Steph H
    on March 21, 2010 at 5:27 pm said:

    Congrat Elise! It is a wonderful time. I had a vegan pregnancy and I felt great throughout. No morning sickness. The baby is so healthy!I read The China Study last week. It def reinforced what we're all trying to do here. I did really well, up to 16 lbs total lost. This week was a different story, but I'll save that for the next update.

  3. Sabrina
    on March 19, 2010 at 10:39 pm said:

    Congratulations, Elise. That is exciting news. I first tried to transition to veganism while pregnant with my second and I found it rather difficult so I just gave up trying until after my baby was born. I, too, am impressed Janae was able to do it then. Janae, thanks for all the info and advice about a whole foods diet and pregnancy. I have often wondered if the nausea wouldn't be so bad if you have adjusted to whole foods eating. I will eager to see if that happens for me the next time around.As a quick update, I was traveling again last week so I didn't get to update. I did lose a pound that week though. This last week, because of traveling and lots of factors making it difficult to exercise as regularly, has made it so I haven't lost anything, but again, I have maintained, and I am happy that to note that my losses are sticking. I can't believe we're already on the final week. I can't remember exactly how much I've lost since I started the challenge, because I was already in the middle starting to lose some so I'll have to go back and look. I am pretty sure I haven't hit my goal, but I think I am close and I know I am making progress and getting better at making this a permanent lifestyle change, so that counts for a lot.

  4. tbsomeday
    on March 19, 2010 at 9:15 pm said:

    CONGRATULATIONS ELISE!!!!!!!!I'm SO EXCITED for you :)i LOVE pregnancy!!!my first pregnancy was a junk food one also…and i felt terriblewith my second and third pregnancy i ate a wide variety of whole foods and those two kids eat their veggies SO well compared to my first!i really think that through the pregnancy and breastfeeding it helped them aquire a taste for those things (they say it's scientifically true ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. tbsomeday
    on March 19, 2010 at 9:11 pm said:

    CONGRATULATIONS ELISE!!!!!!!!I'm SO EXCITED for you :)i LOVE pregnancy!!!my first pregnancy was a junk food one also…and i felt terriblewith my second and third pregnancy i ate a wide variety of whole foods and those two kids eat their veggies SO well compared to my first!i really think that through the pregnancy and breastfeeding it helped them aquire a taste for those things (they say it's scientifically true ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Julieg
    on March 19, 2010 at 7:30 pm said:

    Congratulations Elise. It sure can be hard eating healthy while pregnant for sure! Had a steady week but not eating as great as I would like. Will try to get back on track this week after our spring break is over.

  7. Kelly Michelle
    on March 19, 2010 at 6:53 pm said:

    what exciting happy news, congrats Elise!

  8. Abbie
    on March 19, 2010 at 6:33 pm said:

    Congrats to Elise and very informative comments afterward Janae… particularly the "don't be so hard on ourselves" portion… something we should always remind ourselves. And I'm also super excited to see the Forks and Knives movie. !!!

  9. Gillian
    on March 19, 2010 at 5:52 pm said:

    Congrats Elise!!!!:) And good for you for not using pregnancy as an excuse to totally give up on eating healthier. I'm so glad you have the wonderful advise from Janae! The link for what Elise made doesn't seem to be working.1 pound and 1/2 an inch down for week 11! Through the success and mistakes of the past few months I think I'm finally finding (and admitting) what guidelines I need to have, likely, for the rest of my life. I've been focusing more on trigger foods and nourishment then on weight loss. It's good to see things slowly starting to come together!!:) Now I'm just really nervous about eating at other people's homes etc. I'm getting more comfortable with bringing my own food and explaining etc. but there are still some situations in which I'm afraid it will be really awkward and possibly offend.

  10. Babette
    on March 19, 2010 at 5:27 pm said:

    Very interesting post! I will make sure to go back to it once I get pregnant!