Last year, Halloween was easy. We took baby Henry trick-or-treating on our street in upstate New York, and my husband and I ate all the candy! Henry was only one year old, and we gave him a little dark chocolate and he was happy.
Now we’re vegan, and Henry is two. We avoid high fructose corn syrup and prefer all-natural, organic ingredients. How do we navigate the trick-or-treating side of Halloween? We don’t want to suck the fun out of EVERYTHING just because we’re trying to live healthy and cruelty-free.
The Switch Witch is a friendly witch who just LOVES candy. Candy is her favorite. And she loves it so much that she’ll trade you some awesome toys for it! On Halloween night, if you leave a big pile of candy for the Switch Witch, she’ll switch it for a present. Win-win!
(And then you can bring that candy to work and let someone else feel guilty about eating it all!)
I thought this was so clever that I decided to illustrate my own version of the Switch Witch.
Man, my head is spinning about what to do with food. For six months we’ve had it pretty easy with breastfeeding, and now starting solid foods is boggling my mind. Like an issue of Women’s World where you’re told to eat cranberries for your bladder and eat chocolate for happiness and eat blueberries to live longer and eat flax seed for your brain…
You start off like, oh sure, I could eat more cranberries. I could get them and eat them every day, I guess. I want to be healthy. And then by the end of four pages, you’re just like, wow, I need to eat one of everything in the entire grocery store to be healthy. Which isn’t possible or true, of course.
So yeah, feeding Henry. We have our own dietary choices in place, already.
We are vegetarian and inching more and more toward wanting to stick to a vegan diet.
We’re not always awesome about it, and are far from exclusive on it, but I would like to be as much of a localvore as possible. Given the choice between paying more for something made or grown locally, I’ll usually pick the local thing.
Same goes for organics – not everything we eat is organic or GMO-free, but we lean that way.
I try to buy foods with as few different ingredients and additives as possible, especially random stuff like dyes and corn starch and chemical-sounding names, and definitely steer clear of the obviously awful stuff like high fructose corn syrup (of course there are exceptions, but they’re conscious choices when we do make the exception). I also try to avoid stuff that’s super processed. For example, I’d rather just buy a butternut squash than buy a prepackaged squash soup.
Also, I am bugged by food with lots of packaging.
AND I don’t have a TON of time to make stuff from scratch, so while I will soak dried beans and do other stuff like that, it’s not always super convenient.
So… Basically, we do okay, indulging here and there, of course. We are far from perfect. But when it comes to Henry, we can’t just assume that he’s getting everything he needs. He’s growing, just starting out and his diet is really important. So then in addition to the guidelines we already have in place for ourselves, there are additional parameters.
We like the idea of baby-led weaning. Which is not “weaning” as we know it, but rather the British use of the word, which means adding foods rather than taking milk away. So baby-led eating.
I really think I want to raise Henry as vegan. More and more I’ve been aware of the practices involved with producing dairy and eggs (especially as a dairy-producing creature myself) and I’m really disgusted. While I phase out that stuff from my own diet, I don’t want to be introducing it to him.
For his introductory foods, I want them to be simple, one-ingredient things like a single veggie, etc.
Also needs to be easy to digest, not causing him discomfort with gas (like beans might, for example).
Also needs to be easy to gum since he doesn’t have teeth or know how to chew.
Also can’t be an allergen.
Also needs to be palatable and tasty to him, which right now means sweet-ish because breast milk is sweet.
But not too sweet like fruit because then apparently he won’t like to eat anything but sweets and will be a victim of the horrible childhood obesity epidemic.
Apparently he needs to start getting iron elsewhere, starting now because he’s 6 months old.
And right now he gets enough protein from breast milk, but after he is done nursing (we have time to figure this one out, thank goodness), we need to make sure he’s getting all the amino acids he needs.
And rice cereal has arsenic in it, I guess. Plus is processed.
I want to do the right thing, and my crunchy mama guts say there’s a way to make it all work, but this is a hard puzzle to navigate, with my child’s health at stake in every which way. My eyes are crossing.
I know that nobody’s perfect. My own diet isn’t perfect. I have ideals, but I don’t stick to them ultra-strictly. I’m glad that at least I’m aware when I make a choice that isn’t ideal. But Henry’s a clean slate. We have a chance to do everything right because we haven’t fed him anything but sweet potato (and accidentally salt clay). I know we’re going to screw him up in all kinds of ways through the years, but with the blank canvas ahead of us, I just want to start it off right. It’s so tricky to know what to do.