Vegan Pregnancy Guide: All About Being Vegan and Pregnant at the Same Time
The vegan community has become increasingly popular throughout the globe and many young adults have chosen to adopt a plant-based lifestyle for ethical and dietary reasons as thus more research and evidence have surfaced about the pros and cons within different life stages. While we know a lot about how beneficial the diet can be, we barely ever hear about how vegan pregnancy may play out and whether there are possible risks, or how the diet should change appropriately.
Many people are skeptical about the diet for the fact that there may not be enough nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and protein to be able to maintain a pregnancy and produce a healthy baby, however, these circumstances can most definitely be argued and with a few additions and subtractions within a diet, a lot can be changed as a result. Pregnancy and vegan diet go hand in hand, and it is important to make sure both are maintained and adapted in order to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy term. In this article, we are going to be looking at how it is being vegan and pregnant, what to expect and how to adapt a healthy meal plan.
Is It Safe to Be Vegetarian While Pregnant?
Veganism means that you do not include any animal products into your diet, this includes all meat, dairy, eggs, fish, and any animal-derived products. Not eating meat while pregnant is often frowned upon for health reasons as it is often associated with low iron and “not enough protein”. However, contrary to popular belief, this is not actually the case.
However, this far from true, and it is actually 100 percent safe to be vegan while pregnant as long as your diet and health are strongly monitored throughout the way in order to ensure you are getting enough nutrients for you and the baby being carried. Nutrients such as vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids are extremely important during pregnancy and are often lacking in a typical vegan diet, but these can be supplemented or controlled within a vegan diet and researches suggests that there is no higher risk associated with being vegan while pregnant to eating meat while pregnant.
The Best Pregnant Vegan Meal Plan
In order to ensure a healthy vegan pregnancy, one must have a well-balanced diet that ranges in a large variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals with the inclusion of supplements for ultimate insurance. Making sure that your diet is well planned and thought out is key to having a nutrient-rich diet plan. A healthy vegan pregnancy diet plan should include :
Tofu, Seitan and Tempeh
Tofu, seitan, and tempeh are soy-based products that are high in protein and almost act as a direct replacement for meat. While these mock meats shouldn’t be eaten in excess it is important to include them within the meals of your vegan diet.
Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils should be eaten while pregnant as they contain an essential type of protein and fiber that is important for good development, maintenance of energy, and a healthy digestive system. These should e cooked in order for your body to better absorb the nutrients they offer.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of iron and zinc and are an important part of ensuring you get enough omega -3 fatty acids. Eating just one brazil nut a day is enough to meet your daily selenium requirements.
Calcium and Plant Milk
Plant-based milk and milk products such as yogurts are a great way to get enough calcium into your diet and are often easy on-the-go snacks and replacements.
When eating vegan while pregnant the addition of nutritional yeast is the perfect way to include healthy vitamin B-12 and replace the smell, taste, and texture of cheese which is great for satisfying cravings too.
Whole grains such as spelt and quinoa are a great source of fiber, vitamin B, iron, and zinc and are needed in a vegan diet especially while pregnant.
Fermented Plant Foods
Fermented foods included things like pickles, cabbage, kimchi, miso, and kombucha and are having amazing benefits for gut health and the entire digestive system which is extremely important especially during pregnancy.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients and should be included in a large variety throughout a vegan pregnancy.
Vegan Pregnancy Supplements
Although it may seem achievable to include all the needed vitamins and nutrients in your vegan diet, it may be necessary to include supplementation and vegan pregnancy vitamins on top of your rich diet. Some recommended supplements you may want to consider during your pregnancy include :
An adequate intake should be ensured throughout pregnancy.
Extremely beneficial for women especially if you live in a place with little to no sunlight.
Omega -3 fats are a great vegan alternative to fish.
Try including things such as iodized salt and seaweed in small amounts to ensure to have enough sodium in your stream.
In order to cover all your choline requirements, taking a supplement is your best bet during pregnancy.
Folates play a crucial role in preventing birth defects and are taken by most pregnant women regardless of their diet choices.
Vegan Pregnancy Complications
While being vegan while pregnant is considered to be 100 percent safe, it does not come without some risks. Some risks associated with veganism and pregnancy include :
Not Enough Protein
One of the most common concerns when it comes to a vegan pregnancy is protein intake. Many people worry about not getting enough protein to maintain the growth of the baby, however, this is easily manageable and can be supplemented with the right foods and nutrients.
Another cause for concern is zinc, most women regardless of their diet don’t get enough zinc throughout their pregnancy which can result in low birth weight. As plant-based zinc is harder to absorb, it is imperative that a zinc supplement should be taken.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line when it comes to veganism and pregnancy is that one should really ensure that enough of the correct vitamins and minerals are absorbed into the body throughout the process, whether this is through a variety of foods or supplementation. At the end of the day, there is no large risk to being vegan while pregnant, and in actual fact, it may be beneficial to you and the overall health of your newborn child. Just like any diet during pregnancy, you should always pay close attention to how you and your body feels, check regular check-ups, and ensure your diet is rich in nutrients. As long as a vegan diet works for you, it shouldn’t pose any risk to the baby, the pregnancy process, and the birth by any means.
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