Avi Vince has been vegan for four years, and is mum to her beautiful, healthy nine-month-old daughter Chloe.
But according to comments made by celebrity chef and pseudo-health professional Pete Evans, Avi is somewhat of an anomaly.
The TV personality, who was criticised just yesterday for his comments regarding the ‘toxic chemicals’ in sunscreen, announced to his fans on Facebook on Tuesday that they should avoid a vegan diet if they are “trying to reproduce.”
His incredibly detailed post, which is almost 4,000 words long, made a number of claims, citing research that found “the healthiest babies and the lowest incidence of both physical and mental disease ate diets that were highest in animal-source fat-soluble nutrients.”
You can read the post in full here.
For Avi Vince, and a number of other mums who posted photos of their healthy children to refute Evans’ claims, the celebrity chef simply has no right to make such broad and potentially damaging claims.
“Before I even started to try to get pregnant, I had everything tested and checked as I was worried about being vegan and pregnant – I didn’t want to put my potential unborn baby at any risk,” says Avi.
“All my levels were beyond perfection.”
Avi didn’t struggle to get pregnant, but she doesn’t think that had anything to do with her diet.
“It took me 7 days to get pregnant,” she says. “Pete Evans clearly can’t remember his sex ed class. It takes a sperm and an egg to meet up, have a drink, get to know each other and then decide to spend nine months together.”
I asked Avi whether a health professional ever told her to abandon her vegan diet while she was pregnant or trying to conceive. Because, you know, you'd think if there were health problems associated with veganism in expectant mums, actual real-life doctors might be the ones to flag it.
"When I had my first check up with my obstetrician I asked him about being vegan and pregnant," said Avi.
"He told me it was completely fine as long as I didn't only eat lettuce (in other words, had a varied diet). He let me know that there are lots of vegans in the world, lots of cultures that follow vegan diets, and they all have lots of babies."
Her perfect health was maintained throughout her pregnancy, as confirmed by all her blood tests.
And when Chloe arrived, she was perfect.
"When my baby was born, she weighed in at the 98th percentile for weight, making her, in my ob's words, 'a big, healthy baby'", Avi says.
She is glad other vegan mums defended themselves and their decisions.
"I agree with all the other vegan mums, he has no qualifications to say such things. He needs to leave these things to the professionals. I understand that he provided studies to support his claims, but a quick internet search on anything related to veganism gives you both sides, written by hard core meat eaters (anti vegan studies) and hard core eating meat will make you die (pro vegan studies).
"There are very few studies that actually give you the facts without the emotions behind the person conducting the research in my opinion."
So, how does someone like Avi feel when a well-known celebrity chef with a substantial social media following questions the health of her baby?
She says it just adds to the long list of things mums are made to feel guilty about.
"When you fall pregnant, you can become consumed with trying to do the right thing. You feel guilty for existing on bread during the morning sickness weeks/months because that is all you can handle. You feel guilty if you have a cup of coffee, or black tea.
"You worry about everything you are putting in your body, and here's this guy saying you are probably doing the wrong thing and should be doing this and that."
Ultimately, she has this message for Pete Evans:
"Stop telling us (vegan) mums that we are doing the wrong thing. As a mum and parent, we are constantly told that we are doing everything wrong (despite trying our very best) from the minute we see the positive result on the pee stick. Evans is the last person we need to hear from on how we are completely messing up our children and their future."