Vegan and Pregnant: 3 Ways to Ensure You Get the Nutrients You Need
Following a vegan diet during pregnancy is completely safe and it’s important to ensure your diet is filled with the nutrients you need to foster healthy growth for your little one. Nutrients such as vitamin B12, calcium, and iron are important to consume during pregnancy. A lack of these essential nutrients leads to nutrient deficiencies that could lead to pregnancy complications and poor health for the mother and the baby.
During pregnancy, it will require much more attention to nutrient intake to ensure the body is getting everything it needs to keep everyone healthy. Read on for tips on how you can get the nutrients you need through vegan prenatal vitamins and a nutrient-rich diet.
What is a Vegan Diet?
If you’re new to veganism, you may be wondering what a vegan diet consists of and how it differs from a vegetarian diet. While a vegetarian diet eliminates meat from animals, a vegan diet eliminates all animal products which includes meat, milk, cheese, eggs, and more. Instead, foods made from plants are consumed to build a diet.
1. Vegan Prenatal Vitamins
Most doctors will recommend pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin when they learn they are pregnant and some even recommend starting one while you’re trying to conceive. Doctors will do this to help pregnant women meet any nutritional gaps in their diet to avoid a deficiency. As a vegan mom-to-be, you can find vegan prenatal vitamins that help deliver a healthy supply of nutrients to support you and your baby’s growth. A vegan prenatal vitamin helps with all the necessary growth development for your baby including the brain, heart health, joint and bone health, and immunity.
Taking a prenatal vitamin can be effective post-pregnancy as well, especially for breastfeeding moms. As you breastfeed your baby, your body is providing nutrients to your little one. The process is very much the same as it is when your baby was growing inside of you. Continue taking vegan prenatal vitamins as long as you’re breastfeeding to continue nourishing your body with plenty of nutrients.
While vegan prenatal vitamins are incredibly beneficial in ensuring your body gets enough nutrients, you don’t want to rely solely on the vitamins. It’s a good idea to use the vitamins alongside a nutrient-rich diet so you can ensure you’re getting the most you need for your body.
2. Healthy Diet of Vitamins and Minerals
There are a few vitamins and minerals that are essential for maintaining a healthy pregnancy which include vitamins A, B12, C, and D, calcium, iron, and zinc. There are plenty of plant-based foods to include in a vegan diet that is rich in these vitamins and minerals. Below are a few examples of foods rich in these nutrients.
- Vitamin A
- Sweet Potatoes
- Vitamin B12
- Soy Milk
- Almond Milk
- Plant-Based Meats
- Vitamin C
- Brussel Sprouts
- Vitamin D
- Soy Milk
- Orange Juice
- Pumpkin Seeds
The above list features just a few ideas of foods you can incorporate into your diet. To ensure you consume a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, it’s a good idea to come up with a meal plan on how you can ensure you satisfy your nutrient intake.
3. Macronutrient-Rich Foods
To deliver your body with adequate energy and help the body function as it should, you need to include macronutrients in your diet. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein. During pregnancy, you will need to deliver an increase of macronutrients to properly nourish the body and foster healthy growth. Below are a few ideas of foods you can include as you go vegan during pregnancy.
- Whole Fruits (Apples, Bananas, Melons, etc)
- Whole Grains (Brown Rice, Oats, Quinoa, etc)
- Legumes (Chickpeas, Edamame, Lentils, etc)
- Healthy Fats
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Dark Chocolate
- Soybeans (and food originating from soybeans such as Tofu, Tempeh, and Edamame)
- Beans (Black, Kidney, Pinto, etc)
- Ancient Grains (which include Einkorn, Barley, Farro, Sorghum, Spelt, and Teff)
Of these macronutrients, protein is the most important one to include in your vegan pregnancy diet. Protein ensures the proper growth of your little one’s tissues, organs, and brain. Protein can also increase your blood supply which further benefits your baby as they grow inside you. During the third trimester, your need for protein is greater so try to increase your intake during that time to further assist your baby in developing.
Whether you are a seasoned vegan or are just beginning your journey as a vegan, it’s incredibly important to follow a strict diet during pregnancy. Getting the nutrients you need to help your baby grow as a vegan is far from impossible but it does take attention to your intake to ensure your baby (and you) get exactly what you need to stay healthy.