Mama Dori Photographed by Rebecca Coursey
A native and resident of California, Dori is a certified Nutrition Educator and Food Psychology Coach as well as a full time mother whose professional area of expertise is helping people to transition to a plant based diet and encouraging people to eat more plant based foods. Visit her on Instagram at @healingthrufood, on Facebook at Healing Thru Food and at her website Healingthrufood.com!
Annika: What kind of work do you do?
Dori: I own my own business called Healing Thru Food. I’m a certified Nutrition Educator and Food Psychology Coach (and I’m a full-time mommy!). I work with people on creating a healthy lifestyle, with an emphasis on food coaching and promoting plant-based foods, teach private cooking classes and do workshops/lectures on health-related topics. I just recently got my 200 hour yoga teaching certification while I was pregnant as well, so I am planning on teaching classes soon here in Los Angeles! My hobbies include yoga and cooking. I love trying new recipes and making up my own! I especially love making raw desserts and healthy donuts, which I did make and sell for a while, too!
Annika: I saw on your blog you recently had a baby- congratulations! Also, it’s exciting that you had a vegan pregnancy. What were some foods and supplements you added to your diet during pregnancy?
Dori: Thank you! I supplemented with a food based prenatal vitamin by Mega Food called Baby and Me Herb Free, a calcium supplement by New Chapter called Bone Strength and a vegan DHA (omegas) by Flora. I also took and currently take (I actually currently still take all of these) a liquid D3 and liquid B12.
My protein sources come from nut butters and raw nuts, beans, legumes, organic tofu and organic tempeh. Also, I always have my morning smoothie (during pregnancy and currently), that supplied me with tons of protein as well–I like SunWarrior Warrior Blend protein powder (chocolate flavor!).
Annika: Although more women are choosing to be vegan through pregnancy, there is still some skepticism and misinformation spread by those who don’t think it is healthy or possible. What is your advice for women who are choosing to be vegan through pregnancy but facing criticism from family, friends or medical providers?
Dori: I say you have to do what speaks to you and no one else. You know your body. Trust in that! Some people eat anything and everything (good or bad) while pregnant, and people don’t bat an eye at their choices. But tell someone you’re pregnant and vegan, and suddenly everyone becomes an expert in nutrition! Plant foods are medicine and they nourish you and your growing baby! I am living proof that you can grow a plant based baby complication free! I will say though, that it does help to have some guidance, if you are not familiar with everything you’ll need to remain healthy and keep your baby healthy. This is nothing to mess around with, so you do want to be sure you are getting what you need. Working with a food coach such as myself and having that support can be really insightful and will help you keep strong and confident about your choices and most importantly, ensure the health of your baby!
Annika: In your professional role as a nutritionist you are an advocate for plant based pregnancy and motherhood but also a role model as a woman who has done it! What are your thoughts on the role of advocacy for plant based pregnancy and motherhood in the broader scope of the vegan movement?
Dori: Thank you for saying I am a role model! That’s kind. I think that more and more women are choosing to have plant based/vegan pregnancies and it’s becoming much more supported than it has been in the past. Thankfully I wasn’t met with too much skepticism, so I had a great experience going through my pregnancy. I believe in education and educating others, but not jamming anything down anyone’s throat. I choose to live by example. I think this is a good role for vegan mamas to be to choose (and vegans in general)–live by example! Show other mamas they can do it, too! Fuel yourself on facts and knowledge and live in love, not in fear of what others think, or in such a way that you think your way is best or you are above anyone because of your personal choices. People need to be trusted to find their own way in their own time. This is my philosophy as a Nutrition Educator when I work with clients as well. I cannot expect all my clients to go vegan (although I admit that’d be pretty cool), but I can educate them on their choices. I always say, if you don’t know, you can’t be blamed for making poor choices, but once you have the information, it becomes a choice.
Moving forward, the movement just needs to focus on education, as well as examples of amazing ways people live a vegan lifestyle. It’s so easy these days to find alternatives for say, ice cream, or even pizza–these comfort foods people think they need to give up entirely once they go vegan. The vegan food world has come so far and it’s become so tasty that truly anyone can do it. It’s a mindset thing. If I had a dollar for everyone who said they “cannot live” without dairy, I’d be a millionaire. You most certainly *can* live without it, but your mind has to let it go first.
Annika: When did you become vegan and why?
Dori: I gave up red meat and pork at the age of 16 (I’m 38 now) and then went through various versions of vegetarian, pescatarian, and then finally went full vegan in 2010. Originally, at 16, I was influenced by a friend from school who was vegetarian for ethical reasons. I first focused on giving up animal flesh for preventative health reasons, but once you dive into that world, you cannot NOT be affected by learning about the treatment of animals when it comes to breeding them for consumption (mostly relating to commercial / BIG AGRA farming / livestock/poultry raising). So the more I learned, the more I became an advocate for animals and against animal cruelty. I also felt better not eating flesh; more energy, happier, and more positive.
Annika: Did motherhood have any influence on your vegan outlook?
Dori: I always knew I would go through my pregnancy vegan and be a vegan mama. Motherhood did not have an influence on my vegan outlook, but being vegan had an influence on motherhood / pregnancy. It’s been kind of fun and interesting being able to eat more (or, actually, trying to get enough of) of my favorite foods since you need more calories being pregnant (roughly 300 more), as well as during breastfeeding (roughly 500 more), so I’ll take another 3 avocados, please!
Annika: Is your child’s pediatrician very vegan friendly? Did they express any specific concerns with your child being vegan?
Dori: Our pediatrician has been vegan herself for over 30 years, so she’s 100% supportive of my choice to raise my kid vegan.
Annika: What do you love about being a vegan mama?
Dori: I love knowing I’m treating my body, animals and the planet kindly, and giving my baby a great start in life by not poisoning her with harmful foods. I also love being an example and inspiration for others!
Annika: What is your favorite part about being part of the vegan community:
Dori: Meeting other amazing vegans (one of my dearest friends I met on IG and she ended up at our wedding!), sharing delicious recipes/recipe inspiration, and collectively educating and changing the world to be a kinder, more conscious and healthier place!
Annika: How do you navigate situations like your children attending peer’s parties where there may be predominantly non vegan food?
Dori: I haven’t had to navigate through this yet, but I’m not too concerned since I live in Los Angeles, and it’s more common probably than anywhere else in this country to have vegan birthday parties or other functions.
Annika: What are some of your favorite foods?
Dori: Avocados, tahini, Medjool dates, home made spring rolls with peanut sauce, and pure, dark chocolate.
Annika: Favorite meals to make for your family?
Dori: We love our vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, bean and cheese enchiladas, and tempeh tacos.
Thank You Dori!
All photos provided by Dori
Photographer: Rebecca Coursey
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.