Dealing with Cravings (Vegan and Not-So-Vegan Ones) During Pregnancy

Cravings during pregnancy are one of those things that cannot be explained. It is perceived in the media as almost being like a psychotic episode where a heavily pregnant woman holds her partner at gunpoint if he/she returns home without pickle-flavoured ice cream.

In my experience, as well as the experiences of many other vegan women that I discussed this with, this perception doesn’t seem to be the case. But stating the obvious, everyone and every pregnancy is different and there are some people out there who may experience the Hollywood take on this.

Cravings or a change in preferences?

Pregnancy cravings: wishing you were craving greens rather than a pickle-flavoured ice cream?

While pregnant first time around, I didn’t experience cravings at all and thought cravings were a lie. Second time around, I developed a taste for peppermint chocolate and nachos (not together). Both of these things I don’t dislike in my regular un-pregnant state, but I wouldn’t often opt for them either. I also really liked Lord of The Fries (greasy vegan fast food) while pregnant the second time. These cravings to me seemed more like a change in palate or an alteration of my ordinary taste preferences rather than the impulsive, crazy urgency to eat that I had pictured before I had ever been pregnant.

For some of my vegan friends, pregnancy cravings were also more or less the same:  
During her pregnancy, my vegan friend Sarah felt so sick that all she ate for weeks over weeks were Kettle chips and sour green apples; My friend, Mada, lived mainly off mandarins, grapefruits and ryvitas; Yahvinah wanted ramen noodles and hot chilli on everything; And Cath couldn’t get enough “chocolattey, fudgy type goodness”.

Lucky for these vegan women, all of these “preferences” and cravings were non-conflicting with their vegan lifestyle choice.

But what happens when your cravings are of the un-ethical kind?

My other vegan friends, Michelle and Amanda, both had to deal with these types of cravings. Michelle specifically remembers a time in her second pregnancy where she felt like ham steaks.  Amanda, in her second pregnancy, felt like chewing on a meat bone, craved cheese, and craved a hardboiled egg in an egg cup with toast soldiers.

Vegan Omlete and French Toast: we live in very exciting vegan times, where anything is possible food wise (click on the pic for more info on The Vegg)

So how did they deal with those cravings?

For Amanda, it was a matter of reminding herself of why she doesn’t eat those foods in the first place, and for Michelle it was a matter of satisfied her ham steak craving with various mock meats. Easy as that.

You see, we live in very exciting vegan times, where anything is possible food wise. There is a mockery of basically every animal product out there – even eggs have vegan counterparts such as The Vegg. All sorts of vegan “cheese” and “meats” are on the market too. But when dealing with pregnancy cravings, it is very important to remember that while cravings are not understood entirely, there is evidence to support that cravings could have some sort of reasoning behind them.

what are your cravings trying to say? Take a look at your whole diet and your craving in specific. If needed, seek professional advice.

What are your cravings trying to tell you?

Cravings, in and outside of pregnancy, are likely to stem from instinctive factors such as nutritional deficits. If you do crave something in particular, take a look at your whole diet and your craving in specific, to see which nutrients you might be missing, and which nutrients are found in the items which you are craving.

For example if you feel like chowing down on a steak, assess your overall iron and protein intake and maybe get bloodwork done to check your levels. If you crave cheese and the fake stuff isn’t cutting it, up your calcium intake and see if that helps. If you are craving empty calories such as sugary and fatty foods, check that you are taking in enough calories to support the pregnancy.

Nothing should compromise the health of your baby so if you are unsure about where you are at nutritionally, it is important to seek advice from a health professional. Just remember, pregnancy is a temporary state of being and just because you may crave something that isn’t vegan doesn’t make you any less of a vegan!  My motto is that there is always an ethical alternative! Happy baby baking!

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Natalie Cunningham

Writter & Reviewer

Vegan Super Mum Columnist

My name is Natalie Cunningham and I am from Melbourne, Australia. I am a mum of two beautiful girls, Leilani and Malia and my husband is Robert. We are a vegan family – I have been vegan for over 10 years now, Robert for 3 years and our children have been vegan since birth. I am the vice president and one of the founders of Vegan Parents Australia – an organisation dedicated to bringing vegan families together for moral support and friendships and to mainstream veganism by dispelling the myths that it is dangerous for children to be vegan, and that it is in fact easy and healthy!

More about Natalie

Check out Natalie’s co-founded organization – Vegan Parents Australia

Check out Natalie's Vegan Family blog - The Veggiebacons