Should vegan women who get pregnant ditch their diet for a more traditional one?
Whether or not you are pregnant, when you tell someone that you follow a vegan diet, there will likely be some questions and concerns. But, when you do get pregnant, those questions and concerns start coming more and more frequently, and from all sides. In fact, there is so much concern over the potential risks of following a vegan diet while pregnant that some women give up their vegan diets for more traditional ones during pregnancy. But, is it necessary to give up your vegan diet while you’re pregnant?
Is it safe to follow a vegan diet while you’re pregnant?
The answer is yes, at least according to the vast majority of OB/GYNs and nutritionists. While there are plenty of terrifying anecdotes out there about malnourished kids being born to vegan women, the real data paints a very different picture. In fact, according to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vegan and vegetarian diets are just as healthy for everyone — including pregnant women and their babies — as traditional, omnivorous diets.
“It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”
Nutrients pregnant vegan women should be mindful of.
Just as there are many different ways to follow a more traditional diet, there are also many ways to follow a vegan diet, but no matter what kind of diet you stick with, it’s important to make sure that your meals are healthy and balanced. And, there are a few nutrients that vegan women should be more mindful of during pregnancy:
Your baby depends on calcium for the development of everything from bones to nerves, particularly during the third trimester.
Where to find calcium as a vegan:
- Calcium fortified juices and plant-based milks
- Leafy, green vegetables
- Foods with soy (tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soybeans, etc.)
- Some seeds and nuts
Vitamin B12, along with folic acid, is important for brain development. Vitamin B12 is also necessary for the formation of red blood cells.
Where to find vitamin B12 as a vegan:
- Fortified foods, including cereals, plant-based milks and meat substitutes
- Nutritional yeast
Did you know that your blood volume needs to increase by almost 50 percent in order for your body to support itself and your baby during pregnancy? And, in order to do that, you need plenty of iron, as it is essential for making more red blood cells.
Where to find iron as a vegan:
- Whole grains (quinoa, barley, oat bran, etc.)
- Dried fruit
- Pumpkin seeds
- Spinach, collard greens and other leafy vegetables
- Soy products
Vitamin D helps the body to actually absorb the calcium that you consume, so it’s essentially for maintaining healthy bones throughout pregnancy and beyond. Most people rely on fish or dairy for vitamin D, which makes it a little harder to come by for vegan moms. However, there are some vegan sources of vitamin D.
Where to find vitamin D as a vegan:
- Mushrooms (portobello, morel, maitake, button and shiitake mushrooms have the highest amount of vitamin D)
- Fortified, plant-based milks and foods
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Whether you follow a vegan diet or not, taking prenatal vitamins can help to ensure that your baby always gets the vitamins and nutrients they need. And, luckily, here at My VeeGan, we offer vegan prenatal vitamins that are packed with the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. Shop with us today!