Mama Jessica & daughter Erika
Photo provided by Jessica
I first saw the adorable and beautiful duo that is Jessia and her daughter Erika in Issue Two of The Lush Scoop (the ‘woman’ issue of the Australian based magazine of cruelty free culture). Later, while scrolling through Instagram and enjoying the accounts of many vegan mothers, I came across @lovelivesinherkitchen and within minutes was emailing Jessica asking if she would take part in this series. It was not until later that I recognized and remembered her as that softly beaming mama with her child in her arms in the Australian vegan magazine.
Jessica was born in Sydney, Australia where she currently resides with her family and works as a fine art photographer. She also looks after the social media for her brother’s vegan pizzeria ‘gigi’ (IG: @gigipizzeria) as well as ‘FlyingPigCoffee’ (IG: @flyingpigcoffee) a blend of coffee created specifically for plant based milk. Jessica is mama to a 3 1/2 year old “proud little vegan”!
Annika: When did you become vegan and why?
Jessica: I became vegan three years ago after I discovered the cruel reality of the egg and dairy industries.
Annika: Did motherhood have an influence on your vegan outlook?
Jessica: Motherhood had a very big influence on my vegan outlook. My daughter was a few weeks old when I was told the truth about the dairy industry. I was not previously aware that the dairy cow is forcibly impregnated every year to be able to produce milk and that each calf which is born to her is taken away and killed, often at just a few days old. One night, I was breastfeeding my daughter and looking down at hear thinking about how beautiful the bond is between mother and baby, even though the baby can not yet communicate with words, there is a love so beautiful and a connection so strong which transcends any level of verbal communication. What made humans think that the love and connection between any non-human animal and her baby is of such insignificance that we can separate a baby from it’s mother merely for palate pleasure when we have such a big variety of amazing plant-based food available to us.
I wanted to look further into this devastating fact which I had been told by my mother about the dairy industry, so after putting my girl to bed, I did some research and came across a piece written by someone who had witnessed the reaction of a mother cow when her calf was taken away from her. It was one of the saddest things I’d ever read. As I watched my baby sleep, I cried, thinking of the despair of all the beautiful gentle cows in the dairy industry and how humanity has stripped them away, not only from freedom, but from the connection they long to have with their calf and it has stripped the calf away from ever feeling the love of his mother.
From that moment, I never consumed dairy again and it was the beginning of a very quick transition to becoming vegan.
Annika: What are some of your child’s favorite foods?
Jessica: Lentil and kale soup, arancini avocado on toast with chia seeds, nutritional yeast, a squeeze of lemon and a little sea salt. ‘Superhero smoothie bowl’ – frozen bananas blended with a little almond milk, a dash of maple syrup and greens. Home-made cashew cheese, falafel, pasta bananas, apples. Most fruit really!
Annika: Is your child’s pediatrician very vegan friendly? Did they express any specific concerns with your child being vegan?
Jessica: We have a family doctor who is vegan friendly and never expressed any concerns in regards to my child being vegan
Annika: How do you navigate situations like your children attending peer’s parties where there may be predominantly non vegan food?
Jessica: Navigating situations like my daughter attending peer’s parties where there may be predominantly non vegan food has been quite smooth so far and it only gets easier as she gets older. She understands that anything that is non vegan includes animal products, so when we’re out, she always asks “is it vegan?” before she eats anything. I always ask the host if they would like me to bring some vegan food along. Sometimes they accept, other times they have already organised vegan options for our family. I am fortunate that after my Mum and I went vegan three years ago, the rest of my family looked into it and slowly, but surely, everyone went vegan, so family gatherings are always a dream!
Annika: What are some of your favorite foods?
Jessica: The list could really go on and on here!! Vegan pizza, raw, vegan lasagna, cooked vegan lasagna, lentil and kale soup, polenta chips, vegan frittata, pasta with broccoli, chocolate cake, vegan gelato. Then of course there is a whole other list of favourite meals from a number of vegan eateries in Sydney.
Annika: Favorite meals to make for your family?
Jessica: Lentil and kale soup would have to be my favourite meal to make for my family because it is so delicious and nourishing at the same time and everyone loves it! It is a Neapolitan dish which is traditionally made with endive.
Annika: Any specific challenges you face as a vegan mother & how you handle them:
Jessica: I guess the biggest challenge I face as a vegan mother is the frustration I feel knowing the cruel reality of the meat and dairy industry and watching people continue to consume and wear products which not only inflict such cruelty, but cause so much damage to the environment. I worry about the implications of this environmental damage and the future of our children. In regards to people confronting me about raising my daughter vegan- it’s only happened a couple of times, once with my husband’s Aunty in London (who came around after I had a good chat with her) and someone once commented on one of my posts on Instagram, letting me know that they were going to un-follow me because I was so selfish to raise my daughter vegan. I explained to her why it is actually the opposite of selfish to raise your child vegan, but didn’t hear back. There is only so much you can do about the indoctrinated way of thinking of so many people expressing their pro-cruelty views on social media.
Annika: What do you love about being a vegan mama:
Jessica: Knowing that I have chosen a lifestyle which is best for my family, the animals and the planet is what I love most about being a vegan mama!
The quote “what you gain is far greater than what you give up” is true when it comes to choosing a vegan lifestyle and you’re not really giving anything up anyway… You can’t give up what was never yours to begin with!
Annika: Your favorite part about being part of the vegan community:
Jessica: The vegan community is the best, most loving and supportive community I have ever been part of. I guess my favourite part about being part of the vegan community is being able to share my thoughts and ideas with others who are part of the fastest growing social movement in human history. A movement which ultimately seeks to end the exploitation and suffering of over 70 billion animals (per year) worldwide, help end world hunger and stop our world being depleted of resources by the number one cause of environmental degradation and climate change.
Thank You Jessica!
Visit Jessica on IG at @lovelivesinherkitchen
Mama Jessica and daughter Erika
Photo provided by Jessica
This interview is part of an ongoing interview series by Annika Lundkvist with vegan mothers and fathers around the globe. For more interviews and information please visit this page: Interview Series: Vegan Pregnancy, Parenting & Kids.