The Accidental Vegan Baby

Back when I was vegan, I never expected my kids to be vegan. I made chicken and scrambled eggs for them on a regular basis, and they devoured blocks of cheese like locusts while I enjoyed my quinoa. In fact, one of my 17 year old’s first words was “cheeeeeeese.” Of course those days are long gone as I’m now a hardcore, low carb carnivore. I rarely crack 30 carbs a day.

Thus it was with some chagrin that it recently dawned on me that my 20 month old has been, essentially, a vegan baby since he weaned. And if breastmilk doesn’t count as “an animal product” he’s been vegan since birth. No, I don’t have him on a lettuce diet. He’s just a terribly finicky little eater, as were all my children. He lives on guacamole, crackers, fruit, and water (he absolutely refuses anything but water in his bottle). Yes, I have offered him milk, cheese, lamb, bacon, chicken, steak, fish and mayonnaise!! He shoves it all away with an annoyed glare.

As you can see, he’s withering away from this plant based diet:

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(Now that I’ve started allow me to spam you with more baby pictures:)

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If gobs of protein are so vital for human growth, why is he robust, beautiful, and healthy eating nothing but grain and avocados? I don’t have an answer, except for an opinion I’ve voiced previously on this blog. I think we humans are more like rats when it comes to food than we care to admit. We can thrive on just about anything- so long as it’s not outright poisonous or carcinogenic, and we don’t go overboard (or underboard (nothing like overuse of parentheses when writing!)).

So go ahead and enjoy your vegan diet, or your meat based diet, or your cookie diet (as long as you’re not diabetic!). Just take things in moderation and go for a long walk every now and then. And don’t forget to occasionally take a bath in the sink.

First Comes Love

First Comes Love is a 2012 documentary from Nina Davenport detailing her desire to conceive a child sans husband, as she has failed to find Mr. Right by age 41. Having yearned her whole life for motherhood, she enlists the sperm of handsome gay friend Eric and we’re off to the races.

I watched this documentary twice. The first go-round it rubbed me the wrong way. Nina and her vast social network are cringeworthily solipsistic and emotionally stunted. I began to wonder how this small army of navel gazing intellectuals manage to pull their pants down in the morning to pee. And half of them, including Davenport, went to Harvard! I even stated aloud to my husband: “I can’t review this; it would be too cruel.”

Yet when I watched her film a second time I felt far more empathy for Ms. Davenport’s plight. Despite copious dating, no relationship grows to fruition. She even dates when she’s pregnant, to a charming film critic named John (note to Nina: if you ever read this review, get John back!). I had to wonder if these aging men and women, after so many years of ill-fated prospects, simply lack the ability to connect to one another long term. Nina even has to attend couples therapy with her best friend Amy to navigate their interactions.

Yet beneath Nina’s whiny exterior burns a bona fide desire to be a mother, and this is an urge none of us can criticize. After all, the maternal instinct is what transformed us from slimy fish to land dwelling mammals: concerned mother fish flopped in the mud for safer ground to lay eggs, and eventually that led to legs.

And oh does Davenport flop around. Between awkward conversations with the sperm donor, viscerally painful battles with her father- who perpetually hides behind a print New York Times and barks that she “Get an abortion!” after her pregnancy announcement- and her floundering sense of self, I began to feel maternal toward this poor creature and wondered if perhaps I could adopt her.

The filmmaking is choppy, neither here nor there, and the docu is fundamentally not about Davenport’s burgeoning motherhood, but rather her tumultuous relationship with her family of origin. In that respect I was disappointed to see details of pregnancy glossed over: she goes from taxi with sperm donor to suddenly third trimester pregnant, though the birth scene, which handsome Eric decides to avoid but later attends, is not to be missed.

All in all First Comes Love is a confused and confusing enterprise that nonetheless affirms the beauty of motherhood. And despite their flaws, Nina and Eric manage to produce the cutest baby in human history- but you’ll have to watch the film to see him!

Currently First Comes Love is available on Netflix streaming.