A Conversation with Diana Hernandez, Vegan Mama to Be
Written by Alejandra Tolley
I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and virtually chat with Diana Hernandez, the food blogger behind @essentiallifebydiana. She is a member of our LA Chapter, one of the most genuine and lovely individuals around, and soon to be a first-time vegan mama!
Diana has been very open on her plant-based pregnancy journey from what she eats in a day, dietary supplements, the nuances of having a non-vegan partner, and the stigma of raising a vegan baby. We dove into everything, and she provided valuable insight for those who need more guidance and tips on navigating pregnancy as a vegan. We want to celebrate all the vegan mama's out there for this Mother's Day and pay immeasurable gratitude to those raising a more compassionate generation.
How have you been feeling the past couple of weeks?
The past couple of weeks I have felt a whole range of emotions from nervous to sad and excited. I’m nervous because childbirth is a whole ceremony that I believe to be sacred and I don’t feel like I’ve prepared enough. I’m sad because I won’t have my peanut exclusively to myself anymore, in our little bubble of bliss and love. Ultimately, I trust my body and I will try to let go and trust the Universe to guide me into the unknown!
How does it feel to become a new mom in the same week as Mother's Day?
I think motherhood/parenthood begins in pregnancy because pregnant people start adjusting their lives and making choices for their baby from the start. But to answer the question directly, I have always felt like the “mom” in my friend groups so to be officially celebrated with all the other badass mothers is an honor.
What's been the most rewarding during your first pregnancy?
The most rewarding feeling is recognizing my body’s ability to grow another human. I have a newfound appreciation for moms everywhere because pregnancy is so challenging and there is a lot less enjoyable moments that aren’t shared as much.
Did you have any interesting cravings?
I did not have any interesting cravings, sadly! The cravings I mostly had were for fresh fruits so I made sure the kitchen was stocked with juicy oranges, strawberries, bananas, kiwis, the works! If I was out of fresh fruits for the moment, then a frozen fruit smoothie with pineapple juice would hit the spot, too.
What support have you had during your pregnancy and your plans to raise your child as a vegan?
This has been the trickiest part. I have one very close friend who is vegetarian, but other than that, my partner and close family are all nonvegan. My partner has no issue with my plans on raising our child as vegan and my family members do not either. I am going to educate my child on food systems in the U.S. and their impact on animal lives, worker lives, and also the impact on the environment. The best source of support I have are other vegan mamas online and on Youtube. My favorite online vegan mama is Jenne, from Sweet Potato Soul!
Have you been able to access resources to help you through your pregnancy as a vegan mom?
Luckily, yes! I am very thankful to have been able to keep up with my nutrition consistently throughout pregnancy. I continued working up until my 9th month so I was able to pay for my prenatal vitamins, iron and omega 3s supplement. As far as childbirth, breastfeeding, or newborn care I have been asking other moms around me and self-teaching myself via Google searches.
Have you found it challenging to find resources?
Not really. The internet is a great resource for me. I always double-check with my care provider before I embark on any new supplement or care routine to be safe. I have also found great content creators on Instagram that align with my beliefs for pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood, baby care, the works! These are a few creators I love: @badassmotherbirther, @thenakeddoula, @parteramidwifery, @restore_midwifery, @fullmoonbirths, and @evarosebirth
Do you have any concerns about nursing your baby as a vegan?
I have full intention on breastfeeding for as long as my body and mind will allow me to. My one present fear is that if, for whatever reason, I am not able to breastfeed which vegan formula will be best. I have yet to research vegan formula for babies.
What challenges are you anticipating raising a child to be vegan?
I have concerns that my family will try to feed my child nonvegan foods without my and my child’s consent. The best way I can think of to navigate this is prepare my child’s food ahead of time and send my child off with yummy, nutritious vegan food to their care person for the day. Also, teaching my baby early on about animal-derived foods.
Now that you're in the final stretch, do you have any advice on vegan mamas to be?
Trust your maternal instincts! I am definitely not a perfect vegan and striving for perfect nutrition or supplements can be very draining and harmful for our mental health. There was a moment where I was trying to count macros to ensure my baby-building-body was gaining enough protein, carbs, etc., but it was not a good time. Now, I try to make sure I’m eating a little bit of everything with every meal. Even if it means slicing a raw tomato and eating it on the side with my mashed potatoes & quinoa!
Thank you, Diana, for giving us a glimpse of your pregnancy journey and I wish you and all the other resilient vegan mamas, a beautiful Mother’s Day.