A Vegan Diet + Pregnancy: Must-have Foods, Creating Ease, Advice on Slowing Down, and the Importance of the Farm Sanctuary
Interview by Shane + Sia Barbi
BARBI TWINS: You were the most popular young actress of your time, PETA voted you Sexiest Vegan Celebrity, and you’re the author of a New York Times bestselling vegan cookbook, The Kind Diet. What inspired you to use the word “kind” as a brand?
Alicia Silverstone: The whole concept was about being kind. The kindness starts with yourself. I want people to be kind to animals and to be kind to the planet. The kindness starts with you, and if you give yourself the gift of health, then you will be the best you can be. When you’re being kind to yourself, you will be able to be kind to everyone else.
BT: Why were you so passionate about being a Kind Mama?
AS: I realized women deserve to have this amazing, blissful pregnancy—and what a crime it is that they don’t know how to do it. All of this can be made so much easier, and so yummy, following The Kind Mama. Once I was pregnant, I was lucky enough to experiment and see what being vegan, or being “kind,” does to you. I would go to prenatal yoga class and they were complaining about all these different things that were so treatable. I would actually hand out little prescriptions at the end of the class and I would say, “Oh, you have this, then do that.” eople I knew that lived the way I did had the same good results, and everybody else, who was considered “normal,” had different results. I wanted women to have that information, so they could make the best choices for themselves.
BT: If you could give a message to all women who want a healthy pregnancy, what would that be?
AS: It’s really all about being kind to yourself, so that you can be the most well-nourished, strongest, healthiest woman you can be. Being a kind mama starts with being kind to yourself, because you want to be present and available. You don’t want to be sick, tired, irritable, and distracted, so that not only are you giving your child what he or she needs, but you also get to enjoy and savor every moment of that little monkey. I wanted to provide this valuable information to all women. And I wanted it all in one place.
BT: What kind of tips can you give us to avoid bloating, morning sickness, etc., during pregnancy?
AS: You don’t have to be bloated; that’s the amazing thing! That’s avoidable. The morning sickness is more complicated, but you can certainly ease it and minimize it. Your food choices can make it a little bit better. But at the end of the day, many people say strong morning sickness means a very healthy baby, so in some ways it’s a blessing, even though it feels like a nightmare.
BT: What would you do differently the second time around, knowing what you know now?
AS: Going the second time around, I would not give in to my cravings, because I know how to manage them. I would not work that hard. I would really dial it down. Oh my God, I was working so hard on projects—websites, books, my house was under construction, and I was acting. I would rest more and work less. It’s almost like I’m saying you should go into a cocoon to prepare for birth. I would allow myself longer cocoon-type living. If I could have slept for a month, I would have done that. I was working 15 hours a day! Your body needs a lot of rest, nurture, and care.
BT: Can you give us some must-have foods for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and for your child?
AS: The good news is that the same foods that nourish you are the same foods that are good for getting pregnant, during pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and for your child. Foods like brown rice, mochi, beans, greens, kale, collards, bok choy—every kind of vegetable you love—and dishes that are healing and nurturing, specifically dishes like kinpira stew, which is great for post-birth. Also, miso soup, quinoa, and nishime. Bear, my son, loves tofu, sushi with avocado, brown rice, and nori. We make him strawberry kanten, a jello substitute, and I make him waffles and pancakes.
BT: As a vegan mom raising a vegan kid, how do you avoid non-vegan junk food for your kid, or keep him away from other kids’ poor diets?
AS: We have a friend that is conscious of us and makes green beans, broccoli, strawberries, organic brown rice crackers, and organic raisins. We keep a stash at their house as a treat. I’m going to have his birthday at Farm Sanctuary.
BT: You’re also the voice of Farm Sanctuary, one of your favorite animal organizations. Why do you think it’s important for people to get up close and personal with farm animals?
AS: Farm Sanctuary is heaven on earth. I’ve never left the Farm and not been happy. It’s a soothing effect. Every person I brought there just loves it. I had my 25th birthday there and another one a couple of years ago. And then I will have my son’s birthday there. I bring groups of people. The kids get to touch the animals; they get to understand that a dog is not so different than a farm animal. They both desire joy and they desire freedom. They desire life. They like when you feed them and they don’t like it when you are mean to them. You can see how funny or loving they are. It is everything you get from your guardianship of your domestic dog or cat, or whatever makes you giggle inside. It’s the same thing you get with other creatures. But we just don’t get close enough to them, and we purposely keep them far away so we can’t fall in love with farm animals.
Photo: Courtesy of TheKindLife.com, photo by Stephanie Todaro