Elodie & Family
Photo provided by Elodie
For many people who have been long time vegans (or even short term but very committed and passionate vegans) and who may have a very supportive network of vegan and vegan friendly people, it’s easy to forget that many families, communities and societies are not only lacking in understanding about veganism but also currently harboring a great deal of skepticism about the viability of veganism as a full time lifestyle and way of eating. What I appreciate about what Elodie wrote in response to my questions is her honesty. As a bit of a Francophile (particularly when it comes to their wine and baked goods), I am not uncommonly scanning Instagram with great hope for signs of more vegan restaurants and patisseries in France, more signs of the movement gaining momentum in a country that I know has a vegan movement and some vegan restaurants (particularly in metropolitan areas) but where veganism in general is still very misunderstood. Thank to Elodie who currently lives with her family in the South of France (but may be starting a nomadic journey here soon) for sharing her experience. Visit her on IG at @elodieschoice as well as at her website Zoe & I and her husband Tony’s IG at @sweet_honeys_daddy.
Annika: When did you become vegan & why?
Elodie: We started being vegetarian 3 years ago because of a documentary we watched in which we learnt how the animals were treated. The French government tells people to eat a certain way in order to be what they call “healthy”; but what we didn’t know is that those people only have the money in mind, not our health. Only a few months after that, we decided to become vegan because we only had to cut out the cheese since we already didn’t eat butter, cow milk or eggs. It really happened just like that; I was like “what the heck, let’s do this!” and we did it together.
Annika: Were you vegan through pregnancy?
Elodie: Yes, and no! There is one thing you need to know about us, it’s that we are the only vegan people we know in France. None of our friends or family deeply understands us and they’re always trying to convert us back because, according to them, it’s certainly not healthy to eat plants only. We MUST have a deficiency of something!
So, where I’m getting at is that one day, I heard someone saying that when a pregnant woman craves something, it’s the body talking, so it’s better to listen to your body. I was craving cheese and I gave up and ate cheese again.
Annika: Did you make any specific changes for your health during pregnancy?
Elodie: My iron level was low so I tried to take an iron pill everyday but it made me very nauseous, just like the prenatal pill I took. So, because of me being very sick my entire pregnancy, I just kept eating low amounts of nuts or fruits all day long.
Annika: Did motherhood have any influence on your vegan outlook?
Elodie: I’m trying so hard to quit eating cheese because I don’t want to take actions in this market. I also don’t want my daughter to think it’s okay to consume a product that comes from animals. I am ashamed of eating it but I still find it so hard to stop eating it, it’s strange.
Annika: What are some of your daughter’s favorite foods?
Elodie: It used to be bananas but she ate so many of them that she doesn’t want any anymore! Her favorite food these days is cashew nuts; she can chew on them all day everyday!
Annika: Is your child’s pediatrician very vegan friendly? Did they express any specific concerns with your child being vegan?
Elodie: We chose not to tell the doctors that Zoé is vegan; so whenever we have to go, we lie and them she drinks regular formula and eats everything like any other kid. France is not like the US or Canada, people don’t usually know what veganism is and when we explain it to them, we become strange creatures. Doctors are not aware of what we need or can eat as vegan, and even as adults, the less we say we are vegan on a consultation, the better it is. Also, there are a few cases that happened in Europe where vegan babies and toddler died because of malnutrition. Because of that, some vegan parents that did nothing wrong with their kids had their kids taken away from them by the social service. It’s very scary and I don’t want to take the risk.
I spent almost my entire pregnancy and gave birth to my daughter in Canada and over there I wasn’t scared to tell my midwives about my diet and what I wanted for my daughter. They were so understanding and I didn’t fear from them.
Annika: What are some of your favorite foods?
Elodie: These days, I’m all about watermelon, I eat almost one everyday! And also some spinach in my smoothie.
Annika: Favorite meals to make for your family?
Elodie: We mostly eat raw vegan now so we just cut some fruits, with nuts and a juice or a smoothie and call it a meal!
Annika: Any specific challenges you face as a vegan mother & how you handle them:
Elodie: It’s already hard to be vegan as a grown up in France and it’s even harder since I became a mom because I have to protect my child and my family from the people who are clueless about veganism but think they know it all. I decided not to tell everybody and we’ll see how it goes!
Annika: What do you love about being a vegan mama:
Elodie: I can be myself on social medias and not having to lie or hide. I love being part of a community and share our recipes or meal ideas. Thanks to the social medias, and specially Instagram, I can be myself and it feels so good!
Thank You Elodie!
Visit Elodie on IG at @elodieschoice
*Special Note: After doing this Q & A, Elodie and I had a thoughtful email exchange. As someone who has paid attention to (and taken part in) a lot of discussions surrounding veganism and transitioning, I know how divisive the vegan community can be towards anyone who call themselves a vegan but is still transitioning from consuming certain meat or dairy products.
My intention with this interview series is to interview people at all stages of veganism all over the globe. Attachment to cheese is one of the most significant food challenges that many people have in their transition to veganism. I have never been very passionate or attached to cheese but am absolutely fascinated with what people are doing with nut based and other non-dairy cheese production. Part of the vegan movement we are seeing in the USA in particular includes rapid growth in the market for non dairy milks and a variety of other plant based foods and “alternatives”. It is my goal with this interview series to share many woman’s stories from all across the globe so we can get a glimpse into one another’s lives and empower our efforts, visions and movement forward as vegans. Also, I personally believe that when plant based cheeses really gain key attention in France that it will be game changing as a nation of cheese lovers is likely to excel at producing a range of plant based cheeses for their consumers.
Photo provided by Eloide
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.