I'm vegan and pregnant; what nutrients will I need? Is a vegan diet safe during pregnancy? What are the different vegan foods that I can have during pregnancy.
If you’re vegan and pregnant you might be wondering whether it’s safe
to maintain a vegan diet while carrying a baby. Family, friends and doctors may
even question your decisions, asking how you’ll attain essential nutrients that
are found in animal products.
However, you don’t have to give up your vegan diet while pregnant, but
there are things to consider to maintain overall health for both you and your
What is veganism?
Veganism eliminates all animal products from one’s lifestyle –
including products like shampoo, make up or cleaning products that have been
tested on animals.
Usually, people are vegan for two reasons – the belief that animals are
living beings and shouldn’t be consumed, or for health reasons (fat content
found in animal products).
Whatever the case, veganism has grown increasingly popular, with more
people adopting vegan methods into their daily diet, even while living a
I’m vegan and pregnant! What nutrients will I need?
1. PROTEIN and IRON
Meat provides a large amount of iron
and natural fat that is beneficial while pregnant, especially because iron can
drop to dangerous levels and cause anaemia.If you’re still eating dairy and eggs (vegetarian), you’ll most probably
be getting a sufficient amount of protein from these rich sources. Otherwise,
there are veggie-based and wholefood options that can be incorporated into your
Soy products (tofu, soy milk and soy cheese)
How much do I need?
Non-vegan persons usually consume around 65 grams of protein per day.
Keep an eye out for your overall health though and don’t stress too much about
numbers. If you’re feeling good, putting on weight and are eating often, you’re
most likely eating enough protein.
Like protein, calcium is
another vital nutrient you’ll need to bear in mind for the development of your
baby’s bones and organs, particularly as the third trimester approaches. Low
calcium can also put you at risk of osteoporosis at a later stage in your life.
You can also take calcium supplements if you’re not getting enough from natural
Green leafy vegetables like: kale, pakchoi, okra, broccoli
Pinto beans, red beans, white beans
Tofu and soy milk and cheese
How much do I need?
Pregnant vegans should aim for eight or more servings of calcium-rich
foods per day. You can also get a supplement if needed, but ask your doctor
3. VITAMINS D and B12
B12 works alongside folic
acid for foetal brain development. A deficiency can cause neural tube defects
and an increased risk of preterm labour (although B12 deficiencies are rare). What
Vitamin B12 supplement
Vitamin D is actually a
crucial vitamin needed for building and maintaining overall health, as well as
mental well-being which can be affected during pregnancy because of hormone
Vitamin D deficiencies can cause weak and soft bones, which can lead to
skeletal issues, bone fractures in babies and poor growth. Although vitamin D
is found in foods like fish and dairy, you can also achieve a healthy dose of
it by spending time in the sun each day – although this can be a problem if you
live in cooler climates.
A vitamin D supplement may be suitable while pregnant
Fortified almond milk
How much do I need?
Pregnant vegans who are getting regular sunlight exposure daily should
have adequate levels of vitamin D. However, it’s best to get a blood test to be
sure you’re not on the lower spectrum; otherwise a supplement may be needed.
Veganism risks while pregnant
Although eating a vegan diet is doable while pregnant, you have to
ensure you’re eating a lot of the right foods (meat and dairy substitutes)
throughout the day. If you don’t follow a nourishing vegan diet, you and your
baby will be at risk of:
Just like pregnancy, breastfeeding is no different and eating a vegan
diet can be done, if done right. However, if your baby was born prematurely,
with any health conditions and illnesses, or defects, you’ll want to get expert
advice on the recommended foods or supplements that are required. This is
extremely relevant if you’re considering raising your child vegan.
Vegan diet tips
#1 Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms during the first trimester, so
you’ll need to eat often to avoid hunger that can make you feel worse.
#2 Lack of time can be a problem that can cause you to skip meals – which
isn’t particularly good if you’re vegan – use convenient foods like: canned beans, frozen vegetables,
pre-chopped vegetables, and mixes.
#3 Convenient cooking methods make it easier to eat properly while doing
other activities: crockpots, pressure
cookers, slow cookers and casseroles – make bigger batches of food for
leftovers later in the day or during the week.
A vegan lifestyle while pregnant isn’t dangerous if you are taking the
right dietary steps, even while breastfeeding. Health issues that occur because
of a vegan diet are usually due to significant vitamin deficiencies or prior
health issues that put a baby at risk of developing further problems as a
foetus and after birth. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough
nutritional value from a vegan diet, it’s best to talk to a medical
professional who can direct you to the right supplements. Otherwise, many
vegans include dairy and eggs during their pregnancy and eliminate them again
after their baby is born.
Welcome to Babyinfo – the ultimate pregnancy and newborn information guide. We are here to help you find all the pregnancy and baby info you need to make the most beautiful experience of your life even better.
Our team is comprised of an amazing mix of experienced mothers, recently pregnant women, and editors with tremendous medical knowledge in the fields of gynaecology and childbirth.
Think of us as your friendly advisors, here to give you honest, easy to understand and authentic information. We are here to be your support at this crucial time in your life, when you need it the most.
Note: This website is in no way meant to replace doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers that may be utilized by current mothers or mothers-to-be. All mothers are advised to see a doctor for medical advice and the appropriate care before, during, and after pregnancy.