Is ‘Weaned’ in the Eye of the Beholder?


My older son weaned a few months ago at 5 and a half years old. At least that’s how I’d describe his complete lack of requests to nurse during this time. He doesn’t seem to agree however!

A conversation we had earlier today, as we watched little brother J comfort nurse: Continue reading


For a Vegan Mom Raising a Vegan Baby

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You can stay vegan while raising your baby — and s/he can be vegan, too!

There are a few scary stories out there. You’ve probably heard of the malnourished child, starved to death, medically neglected? Parents happened to be vegan? Yeah, it’s easy to point the finger at veganism for this tragedy. But the reality is, we’ve heard the same terrible tale many times and somehow the presence of (or lack of) animal products in the family diet is only questioned when vegans are involved.

Truth is, many physicians agree that a child can thrive on a well-planned vegan diet and that nutrition based on a foundation of whole, fresh foods is the key to balanced health.

Learn more about the benefits of a plant-based diet for kids here, here, and here. Continue reading


Should You Restore Your Son’s Foreskin?

This post was written by N.O.R.M. North Houston coordinator Eric Smith (known to this blog as The Designated Dad). We both receive questions from parents who regretfully had their sons circumcised and want to know if they can or should attempt to restore his foreskin. The following information addresses this question.

For a reminder about what foreskin restoration is and how it can benefit men, read about it here, here, and here.

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Jaundice & the Breastfed Baby

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Newborn jaundice is normal in most cases, appearing within 2-3 days post-birth, and affecting up to 60% of full-term babies.

Physiologic jaundice is caused by a buildup of bilirubin, which is produced when red blood cells are broken down. The liver is responsible for eliminating the bilirubin, but a newborn’s liver is often too immature to efficiently handle this process yet. This causes a yellow cast on the skin (which can be trickier to detect in dark-skinned babies) and the eyeballs. This resolves itself in a week or two as the baby matures further and red blood cell levels have lowered.

In a breastfed baby, jaundice is more common and tends to persist longer than a formula-fed baby (as breastfed babies are the standard, this means it’s the norm). True breastmilk jaundice, which only affects 0.5% to 2.4% of newborns, sticks around longer than one or two weeks, sometimes up to twelve (now, this shouldn’t be confused with breastfeeding jaundice, which is caused by starvation/lack of proper milk intake). Bilirubin levels might even increase at the two-week mark. None of this is a cause for concern in an otherwise healthy baby.

On how breastmilk and formula compare in causality of newborn jaundice, Dr. Sears says:

“The difference is thought to be due to an as-yet unidentified factor in breastmilk that promotes increased intestinal absorption of bilirubin, so that it goes back into the bloodstream rather than moving on to the liver. Higher rates of jaundice in breastfed infants may also be related to lower milk intakes in the first days after birth, because of infrequent or inefficient feeding.”

Hence, why medical treatments should be avoided unless truly necessary because they threaten to interrupt breastfeeding further. As breastmilk helps move the baby’s bowels to remove excess bilirubin, frequent feedings will hasten the normal bodily process.

If bilirubin levels have reached more than 20 milligrams, a health provider might recommend treatment with phototherapy (ask about fiber optic blankets, an especially good option for nursing moms).

What not to do: do not supplement with sugar water, and do not restrict the baby from breastfeeding.




Mi Patio Cafe: Serving Animal Products to Unaware Vegan Families Isn’t Ethical


I’m quite upset to learn that food truck vendor Mi Patio Cafe & Grill sold animal flesh and animal dairy byproducts on nearly every food option on their menu at Vegandale Food & Drink Festival, where all food and beverages were intended to be fully vegan. Customers were livid and felt betrayed (by a local business nonetheless).

Hearing this news brought up a memory from my own experience at Vegandale. I helped at a New York City-based vendor table called Monk’s Meats for a few hours, assisting in sandwich prep. One customer glanced at the sandwich handed to him, then looked back at its server. “Is this meat?” he asked suspiciously. “Ah, no…” he received in reply. Overhearing this exchange, I thought to myself, Wow, how ridiculous! Let’s not be *that* kinda vegan… I mean, this is a vegan festival! Looks like this man had the right idea to question after all. (For the record, Monk’s Meats is a 100% plant-based business).


Vegandale was promoted as ‘100% vegan… Where you don’t have to worry about ingredients,’ and this reassurance was given in the website FAQ as well. We paid $10-$20 per ticket to enjoy a fully vegan community event with promise to uphold a certain standard of ethics.

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What Vegans Said About Circumcision

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I know some of you roll your eyes when I say “Circumcision isn’t vegan.” But hear me out.

On a recent weekend, I represented Intact Vegan Network at Texas Vegan MayFest, a spring festival hosted by Rowdy Girl Sanctuary. If you haven’t heard of it already, it’s a vegan-owned and operated farm animal sanctuary in the heart of Texas cattle country. In fact, one of the owners used to be a cattle rancher himself before turning vegan.

“Intact Vegan Network is here to talk about… why it isn’t a good thing to cut off your baby’s foreskin,” announced Rowdy Girl Sanctuary founder Renee King-Sonnen during vendor introductions.

Cue me in the back behind my table, waving.

If bodybuilding, skincare, and musical artists can have a presence at vegan events, and we accept that it just makes sense, it can make sense for a circumcision education table to be there too.

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Vegan While Breastfeeding

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Photo credit: Bloom Photography & Design

Is your little bean sprout kind of literally a bean sprout, thanks to your meat-free milk? Many women remove animal products from their diets in hopes of improved health, and thankfully it has been shown that animal-friendly lifestyles are not only perfectly safe but also as beneficial to a breastfed baby as his mother.

I read about maternal vegan diets while breastfeeding and had no concerns that my milk would still be perfectly healthy (in fact, likely more so). When my baby was exclusively consuming vegan breast milk, he was in the 94th percentile for weight, delightfully roll-y, meeting all milestones, and clearly not starved for nutrients. Continue reading