Being a Vegetarian
The Satya Interview with Jed
and Susan Civic
Jed and Susan Civic have two children, Aaron and
Rebecca. We featured Susan’s first pregnancy in Satya three years
ago. They are the authors of The Vegetarian Traveler and producers
of Susan’s Gourmet Snacks (Tel.: 718-263-6524). They are vegans
and homeschoolers who live in Queens.
Q: What was your second pregnancy like?
A: I had some concern during my first pregnancy, because it was something
that was new to me, and I really didn’t have any experience with
it. I felt that there was very little information out there on being a
vegan and pregnant, or being a vegan and having children. There was one
book by Dr. Michael Klaper [see Resouces] which was practically my Bible,
because it was really the only book on vegan pregnancies. There were a
couple of books about vegetarians and being pregnant, but they included
dairy products. With the second pregnancy, having had the experience and
having been vegan for a longer period of time, I realized that there was
nothing for me to worry about. All my nutritional requirements were being
met. I also used a pregnancy multi-vitamin, which gives you your usual
daily dose of vitamins plus extra calcium and folic acid which are needed
by women when they’re pregnant. Both of my children are very healthy,
very happy children.
Q: Did you have any cravings?
A: Just chocolate, in my second pregnancy. I would eat normally, maybe
a little bit more, but that’s normal when you’re pregnant
because you’re eating for two. In my second pregnancy I was a lot
more tired than my first pregnancy for some reason, but then again every
pregnancy is different. Maybe it was because I was also a mother at that
point, and had an older child to worry about. I couldn’t just sit
down and relax and take a nap any time I wanted to. I wouldn’t say
that my diet was any kind of hindrance at all. I don’t think it
made my children unhealthy. I think it had a better effect, really, in
terms of them not being sick. I didn’t have any morning sickness
or anything either time. Maybe that’s also because of the diet,
not having any dairy products.
Q: You didn’t crave meat?
A: No, I had no cravings for anything like that. In fact I’ve heard
a lot of people who aren’t vegetarians, including my mother, tell
me that when they became pregnant they had an abhorrence for meat. Maybe
that’s the body saying, "No, that’s not healthy."
Q: What was the response of the doctor you saw
in your pregnancies?
A: I had the same doctor throughout the first and second pregnancy, and
in the second birth I used a midwife who was a vegetarian herself, and
familiar with the vegan diet. Her basic feeling was that it was probably
a lot healthier for me being vegetarian anyway and I’d probably
be eating a lot less junk food than other people who are not vegetarian.
At least she knew that I was eating a diet high in fiber and high in fresh
fruits and vegetables and grains and stuff like that. She examined me
every time and every time my blood tests were healthy, my blood pressure
was perfect. You can’t argue with a healthy person.
Q: How do you raise your kid a vegan in a meat-eating world?
A: What we do is try to ease the problems of being vegans in the outside
world by doing things like preparing our own food to take with us when
we are socializing with non-vegans. For instance, if there is a birthday
party, we would bring our own cake, so that Aaron doesn’t feel like
he’s missing out on anything when it comes to eating. He’ll
have his own.
Q: Has he expressed curiosity about meat?
A: The only time he’s questioned certain things—and remember,
he’s only three and a half years old—is when we go over to
my in-laws. He’ll sit at the dinner table while they’re eating
chicken, and we’re eating our plant-based food, and he may say something
like, "What’s that?" And I say to him, "Chicken.
We don’t eat chickens. Chickens are our friends." He enjoys
what we eat. I think he may start running into more difficulties the more
curious he gets. We’re going to have to show him that we don’t
eat animals and what animals go through to get on the dinner plate.
Q: Don’t you think that might be counter-productive
in that he might rebel against your values?
A: I’m hoping to avoid that. If we associate ourselves and Aaron
develops his friends as vegetarians and vegans and home schoolers, he
will not have that curiosity because he’s associating with like-minded
people. Like the situation in India, for instance, where people grow up
without meat, and there’s no curiosity because that’s the
way the culture is.
Q: It’s still quite a small group and not
all home-schoolers are vegetarian and not all vegetarians are home-schoolers.
It’s going to be hard to find a subset of all those people, right?
A: I agree with you for the most part. What I am discovering is that
some of the home-schoolers are vegetarians. We’re trying to develop closer
ties with them, but you’re right: home-schoolers are home-schoolers
and vegetarians are vegetarians. It’s a fine line we have to walk,
but if there’s a will there’s a way. We’re going to
Q: Aren’t you trying to inculcate your
values in your kids? What about their own choice?
A: His or her own choice will come. They’re too young right now
to make rational decisions, but when they’re old enough they’ll
make they’re own decisions. We’ll do the best we can to influence
them the way we see fit. But when the time comes they’ll decide
and we won’t have any regrets. We don’t think that we are
imposing our beliefs on them. This is the way we live our lives and it’s
our freedom of choice to raise a family the way we see fit. If someone
wants to raise their kids eating meat, that’s up to them. We’re
as individual or non-individual as anybody else. We don’t see an
issue with that.
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