Today we welcome guest-reviewer, and mom-to-be, Robyn Lazara, who is giving us her take on Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide, by Sayward Rebhal. And read on for your chance to win a copy for yourself!
Book Review: Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal
Review by Robyn Lazara
Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide (Herbivore Books, 2011), by Sayward Rebhal, is a concise and entertaining handbook that navigates the ins and outs of vegan pregnancy. Rebhal, having had an entirely plant-based pregnancy herself, guides the reader from pre-conception to breast-feeding in a down-to-earth, “girlfriend”-like tone, that is both informative and giggle-inducing. Pregnant myself, I read the book in my third trimester, finding that, even at this stage in pregnancy, it was a valuable resource. Rebhal’s personality is a strong presence in this read, and she draws heavily on her own experiences. I liked her immediately.
Not meant as a complete guide to pregnancy, the book instead effectively hones in on the areas of being “with child” that are particularly relevant to the vegan lifestyle – keeping it impactful, pithy and, perhaps most importantly, reassuring. Throughout Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide, she advocates for – and demonstrates – the accessibility of veganism during pregnancy with frankness and encouragement. This is a perfect source of support for the reader who might be discouraged or apprehensive about sticking with veganism during pregnancy.
As expected, Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide proficiently covers dietary topics like vegan prenatal supplements, and plant-based sources of critical nutrients. And in her assuring, “this is not about perfection” way, Rebhal illustrates the ease of incorporating nutrient-packed, pregnancy-supporting foods into the vegan diet – detailing recipe ingredient suggestions and quick and easy health foods – as well as providing a breakdown of where she thinks it’s best to back up with supplements.
To my delight, Rebhal gives a sense of camaraderie to those of us zapped of energy, bloated, and searching for some understanding and relief. To that end, she covers the many absolutely-to-be expected pregnancy discomforts, such as heartburn and swelling. Rebhal references cruelty-free remedies that are both homeopathic and allopathic, and also provides behavioral tips for dealing with them as gracefully and painlessly as possible. Encouraged by her wisdom, I am less baffled by my occasional non-vegan cravings, and have eagerly took up some of her suggestions (as I write this I am sipping on some Earth Mama Angel Baby Heartburn Tea, which is mentioned in the book).
A significant part of Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide that I hadn’t before personally considered (probably since I’m planning a homebirth), is advice on preparing for labor and a hospital stay. Rebhal offers handy advice on conveying information to medical providers, appropriate food for labor, and thorny non-vegan medication issues. Her advice makes these sometimes intimidating issues much less mind-boggling, and shows that, with prior planning and consideration, they can be effectively tackled.
Given that we are living in a largely non-vegan world, and since – as every woman who has ever been pregnant knows – there is just something endemic to pregnancy itself that makes folks offer up unsolicited advice, Rebhal is perhaps at her most useful when she debunks some vegan pregnancy myths, and offers scripts for addressing unwelcome, frequently annoying questions or comments. Her suave take on addressing such comments allow us to actually seize the opportunity as a chance to spread the vegan message, rather than brush it off with an eye-roll. Her wit on this subject is refreshing and inspiring, such as her response to the inane question of whether or not breast milk is vegan. “Other than blinking repeatedly with your mouth hanging open,” Rebhal writes, “here’s how to address this one…”
In the post-partum section of the Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide, Rebhal covers introducing pets to your new baby, an important topic that I haven’t seen addressed elsewhere, even in my childbirth education class. She also brings up placenta consumption, another topic seldom touched on in conventional pregnancy books (and I must admit, my thinking here really changed around after reading Rebhal’s take). Naturally, she also covers proper vegan nutrition for postpartum moms, as well as breastfeeding tips, giving useful and time-saving pointers. She even covers “superfood” suggestions, again reminding the reader to shoot for practicality versus perfection.
Candidly, Rebhal admits that navigating any pregnancy can be complicated, but assures in this edifying guidebook that it can be a fun and wonderful endeavor to nurture and fortify a new life in the vegan way.
For your chance to win your very own copy of Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal, first “LIKE” Our Hen House on Facebook, and then comment below saying you did so, and tell us why you want this book! A random winner will be selected in one week, on Monday, April 23 at midnight EST. The winner will be notified by email. Good luck!
Robyn Lazara is a New York City-based animal rights advocate, and the Volunteer Coordinator for Mercy for Animals. She is involved locally in coordinating outreach, community-building and fundraising activities. Robyn lives in Brooklyn Heights with her husband, Bryan, and rescue dog, Jessy. Her baby is due in June.Robyn can be followed on Twitter at @wellofintention.