Finding out you’re expecting a child is an exciting time in parents lives. Additionally, a million different questions and worries can also flood the mind. If you’re vegan and just found out you’re pregnant, you may wonder about the healthful ways you can stay a vegan while also considering your unborn child.
NPR wrote an article on the safety of veganism and vegetarianism during pregnancy and found that as long as expecting mothers monitor their essential nutrients, it is completely safe. Take note of these 7 tips to ensure you and your unborn child stay healthy during vegan pregnancy.
1. Pack in the Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an important water-soluble vitamin. While B12 is naturally found in animal foods and animal by products, it is also found in a small number of plant based foods. Purple and green laver, a type of algae, both contain substantial amounts of B12. It is also found in other fortified foods, such as cereals, plant-based milks, and nutritional yeast.
If you find that you aren’t able to get the daily recommendation of B12 in your vegan diet, you should consider taking a B12 supplement during a vegan pregnancy.
2. Iron out with beans
Legumes, including beans, peas and lentils, are great sources of iron. Soybeans are packed with iron. During a vegan pregnancy, up the amount of tempeh, tofu, or soybeans. Soybeans contain around 8.8 mg of it per cup, or 49% of the RDI, while 6 oz. of tempeh or tofu contain 3–3.6 mg of iron, or up to approximately 20% of the RDI (recommended daily intake).
Lentils are also packed with iron, providing 6.6 mg per cup cooked, or 37% of the RDI. Lentils are also packed with protein, fiber, and folate, making it a healthy choice during vegan pregnancy.
3. Folate and repeat
Folate and folic acid is an important B vitamin for pregnant women regardless of a vegan diet.
Folate has been proven to be particularly important for the development of the nervous system and for preventing neural tube defects (NTDs) in babies.
Omega-3 fatty acids aid in cellular health, brain health, immunity and metabolism. These are essential to a expecting mothers following a vegan diet.
Flax seeds, chia seeds, seaweed, and walnuts all provide a big dose of Omega-3s. When eating these healthy vegan nutrient packed foods, pregnant vegan mothers may be able to avoid prenatal pills, if they receive an adequate amount.
5. Protein Powered Pregnancy
We’ve talked many times about how important protein is to human life. It’s essential to every cell of the body, this includes the cells of your baby.
Experts recommend 75 to 100 grams of protein per day. Protein positively affects the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain. Vegans already hear their non-vegan counterparts asking them how they get their protein. Pregnant vegan moms already know that lentils, tofu, chickpeas, nutritional yeast, and peas all contain adequate amounts of protein.
6. Calcium for strong bones!
For decades media has mentioned that calcium is essential to building strong bones and teeth. While this isn’t untrue, the fact that cow’s milk is one of the only reliable sources is completely false.
Black eyed peas, soy milk, kale, sesame seas, and seaweed (yes it’s that good for you) all are packed with calcium. A simple vegan meal during pregnancy can include a quick kale salad with black eyed peas, and tahini dressing. A calcium power packed salad.
7. Plan, adjust, and forgive
Pregnancy is an unpredictable time. We know many vegans who have found that pregnancy seriously challenged their vegan diet and lifestyle. Whether it’s due to nausea, cravings, doctors recommendations, or other factors, some vegans need to eat non-vegan food.
We recommend you plan your vegan pregnancy diet plan, adjust accordingly depending on your circumstances, and forgive yourself if you have to step outside of your vegan comfort zone. What’s most important during any pregnancy is that both mother and baby get the essential nutrients they need to build a healthy start.
Pregnancy is the one time in your life when your eating habits directly affect another person. Incorporating the listed essential nutrients before and during pregnancy will help give your baby a strong start in their new world, and yours.