Veganism demands commitment and dedication. Vegans not only shun meat of any kind, but milk, butter, and eggs, etc. — in short anything that comes from animals. While such abstinence is done willingly, things change when another life becomes dependent upon you.
Vegans face different situations during pregnancy compared to other parents. Like all parents, they want to provide the best nutrition and diet to the baby, but unlike all parents, they can’t take it from the most popular source: meat.
94% of the population identifies as not Vegan. This roughly translates to a bulk of unsolicited advice for the 6% about how you’re not giving the best intake to the fetus.
Here’s the truth: There is no reason to worry. There is absolutely no need to cater to the naysayers and abandon your hard-fought change in lifestyle. You can continue with a vegan lifestyle even when you are expecting, without causing any harm to the baby inside you.
Yes, the protein and nutrition required for a healthy baby are more ‘easily’ found in meat. But when you signed up to stand out from 94% of the population, you were always going to go the extra mile for your body or that of your baby’s.
Below is a list of some of the necessary nutritional requirements for an expecting mother, and how to get them from vegan sources.
Table of Contents
What to Know about Nutritional Requirements In Vegan Sources
Iron is responsible for the creation of red blood cells in your body. To support the child during pregnancy, the blood volume increases by approximately 50%. This significant increase demands increased iron intake to ensure health.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common and dangerous threats to an expecting woman. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia which is a major cause for preterm labor and low birth weights in infants. Lack of iron sufficient diet is an issue faced equally by people who consume meat. Such is the demand for iron that regular diet cannot suffice for it.
One of the most commonly prescribed methods to regulate iron intake is to take iron supplements. Supplements are a great addition to sustain your body, but munching down on iron-rich food should be your primary course of action
What to Eat
- Dry Fruit
- Oat Bran
The importance of calcium in your daily life is undisputed. Responsible for your bone strength, muscles, digestion and overall nervous system – calcium is an indisputable element in a healthy diet. During pregnancy, the need for calcium intensifies. Calcium not only caters to the mother’s body but is also responsible for the baby’s bones, muscles, heart, and nerves.
A fetus needs calcium to develop its skeleton and is very aggressive about it. If the baby doesn’t get the calcium from your diet, it will simply fulfill its requirements by taking away the calcium from your bones. This poses the threat of bone weakness and osteoporosis looming over your already-fragile body.
In such demanding conditions, dairy products do not aptly fulfill the physical requirements of almost a 1,000 milligrams a day. One easy way to up your calcium intake is supplements.
What to Eat
- Soy milk
- Green vegetables (leafy)
- Fresh juices (with added calcium fortification)
Vitamin B12 is exclusive to a diet that comes from animal consumption; which is why vegans often don’t get enough of this vitamin. Folic acid, along with Vitamin B12, provides crucial support for fetal brain development. Vitamin B12 also aids in forming genetic information in the body through cells and the formation of red blood cells.
Although deficiencies are a rare occurrence, they can still cause neural tube effects and increase the risk of preterm labor. Besides, it is always advised to go the extra mile for the healthiest possible growth of your child inside you. The best way to know if you suffer from a potential deficiency or if you need supplemental Vitamin B12 and folic acid is to consult your doctor.
What to Eat
- Nutritional Yeast
- Fortified Cereals
- Fortified substitutes of meat
- Soy milk (fortified with Vitamin B12)
Protein is a vital dietary need for expecting mothers. Expecting mothers are in need of protein more than ever.
Protein is tasked with two of the most fundamental functions in fetus development, the creation of cells and building hormones. If you allow yourself the liberty to consume dairy products, you might be on par with your nutritional protein requirements.
However, if you are fully committed to the cause, you might need an additional injection of vegetable-based protein in your life.
What to Eat
- Whole grains
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine, cashew)
- Green Peas
- Beans (kidney, pinto, navy, black)
- Pasta (whole wheat)
- Cereals (whole-grain)
- Bread (whole-grain)
- Milk (Soy)
Vitamin plays a vital role in the building and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
Severe vitamin deficiency leads to bone fractures in newborns and complications such as congenital rickets. Congenital rickets causes soft bones, poor growth and weak skeleton and possible deformities. Scientifically, the best vitamin D sources are milk and fish – both do not suit vegan lifestyles.
Fortunately, sunlight is also abundant in Vitamin D. A few minutes in the morning or evening sun aids in Vitamin D production and boosts your body. This can be a hard task if you do not go outside, reside where the climate isn’t sunny, have darker skin or wear sunscreen.
Vegan substitutes for Vitamin often lack to provide ample nutrition to the body. The best advice regarding health choices always comes from a professional. Therefore it will be wiser to consult your doctor to evaluate the situation thoroughly.
To make up for any deficiency in vitamin intake, supplements may be used. You may opt for supplements after getting your Vitamin D level tested.
What to Eat
- Soy milk (fortified)
- Orange Juice
No evidence supports the notion that a vegan based lifestyle can adversely affect an expecting woman.
A well balanced, nutritionally sufficient diet, along with regular appointments with the doctor, paves the way for a healthy pregnancy.