Vegan Pregnancy 101: Know Meal Plans, Health Benefits &Risks

Everything You Need To Know About Vegan Pregnancy For Vegan Mothers

If you are pregnant and following a vegan diet, you may wonder is it fulfilling all the needs of the baby. Is vegan pregnancy really good for you and your baby’s health? How does a vegan diet affect pregnancy?

These are some most searched questions on the internet by the vegans. This article critiques about the vegan diet, vegan diet’s safety during pregnancy, pros and cons of being vegan, and 1-day diet plan.

What is a vegan diet?

Nowadays, the vegan diet is getting famous worldwide. More people are switching to vegan diets due to environmental reason, for good health and animal welfare.

A vegan diet includes plants, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and legumes. It doesn’t include any food made up of animals or comes from animals like all the dairy products, meat, and eggs.

Generally, vegan people may also avoid clothes, soap, leather, fur and other products derived from animals. However, some people get confused in between vegan and vegetarian diets, but both the diets are completely different.

Vegetarian is a diet which includes all the dairy products, fruits, vegetables and sometimes people also consume eggs in it.

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Vegan Diet During Pregnancy

Earlier there were so many misconceptions about a vegan diet. It was not considered good for the pregnant lady. In truth, there are no reasons to worry about as long as you are eating a well-balanced diet.

Research shows that if you include all the food providing adequate protein, minerals, nutrients in your meal, it is examined as healthy as a conventional diet.

It is very important for the pregnant lady to know what all nutrients are required for the development of the baby.

Vitamin B12, protein, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin D are nutrients which are more required during pregnancy and some of them tend to be naturally low in a vegan diet.

Low intake of these nutrients can lead to many pregnancy complications like miscarriage, birth defects, preterm birth, poor health of infant and mother.

At the same, according to some studies, it is found that vegan women may have a lower risk of infant mortality, C- section delivery. It is always advisable to the people to consult their doctors.

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What To Eat During Vegan Pregnancy?

Here are some tips which can help you to prepare your vegan diet by including all the nutrient-rich foods, and what all supplements you are required to eat.

Meat is a source of protein and calories. In a vegan diet, meat can be a substitute from soy products like Soy milk, Tofu, Tempeh (whole, fermented soybeans), eggs.

Black beans, lentils, legumes, Fig, Brussels sprouts are a good source of plant-based proteins and fibres which make the body full of energy. Plant-based diets provide a good amount of carbohydrates and water content.

Zinc is an important mineral which helps in the construction of baby cells and DNA. While iron is needed for haemoglobin and also prevents a condition of iron anaemia deficiency. The requirement of both of these minerals can be fulfilled by eating Nuts, Seeds, Beans, Porridge, Chia, Flax seeds.

Calcium sources for vegans are Yoghurt, Calcium-fortified orange juice, cheese, green leafy vegetables.

Around 2.6 mcg of vitamin B12 is recommended per day. The exiguousness of B12 is generally found in vegetarians and vegans. Since it is found in food that comes from animals in vegan diet fortified soy milk, fortified cereals and meat are the substitutes of B12 sources.

Some fruits, Brazil nuts, fortified foods and green leafy vegetables are especially rich in nutrients and also help to boost energy.

Other than these, many practitioners recommended some Supplements during pregnancy:

 Vitamin B12, vitamin D, Omega- 3 fats, Iodine, Choline, Folate are supplements which can be taken during pregnancy.

But, it is always advisable to take advice from doctors before taking any supplements.

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A 1 Week Sample Of Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan

Sample Meals On Day 1 For Vegan Pregnancy

Breakfast: Almond milk or soy smoothie topped with nuts, chopped berries, brewer’s yeast, spinach, flax seeds, nut butter.

Lunch: Pilaf with lentils, bulgur, quinoa, farro, etc. with squash.

Dinner: Baked seasoned tofu with sweet potato wedges, and buckwheat.

Sample Meals On Day 2 For Vegan Pregnancy

Breakfast: Fruit smoothie made with almond milk or quinoa drizzled with milk, chopped almonds and berries.

Lunch: Baked Falafel with roasted vegetables and a side salad.

Dinner: Spicy tofu and veggies over wheat noodles

Sample Meals On Day 3 For Vegan pregnancy

Breakfast: Amaranth topped with chia seeds and chopped figs.

Lunch: Veggie burger on a whole-grain bun; Corn and avocado salsa with kidney beans.

Dinner: Whole grain tortilla chips on the side, baby kale salad with chopped figs.

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Sample Meals On Day 4 For Vegan Pregnancy

Breakfast: 1 glass almond milk chopped fruits and Avocado toast on whole grain bread with veggies and spices;

Lunch: Fig porridge baked with streusel and caramelised pear topping.

Dinner: Quinoa or bean-based pasta, spaghetti sauce with chopped seitan and a side salad

Sample Meals On Day 5 For Vegan pregnancy

Breakfast: Carrots and hummus made with tahini with soy milk.

Lunch: Vegan broccoli cheddar soup with jalapeño and vegan ramen with miso shiitake broth

Dinner: Roasted sheet pan with ratatouille. Serve it over polenta, over pasta or over toast.

Sample Meals On Day 6 For Vegan Pregnancy

Breakfast: Apple buckwheat pancakes with coconut caramel apples.

Lunch: Spicy vegan Oatmeal bowl topped with crunchy cabbage slaw, toasted chipotle and avocado.

Dinner: Instant pot mujadara served with caramelised onion, fresh veggies, pine nut and yoghurt are optional.

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What Not To Eat During Vegan Pregnancy?

A poorly planned vegan diet may affect the health of the baby and mother. It requires careful planning of what to include and what not to include in the diet. There is some food that you’ll want to avoid during pregnancy and these are:

1. Pregnant women are more vulnerable to infections and diseases and eating raw or undercooked meat increases the risk of several infections, cramps in the uterus, and stillbirth.

2. Most of the people are fond of caffeine but when it comes to pregnancy it is always advised to avoid it. High intake of caffeine may hamper fetal growth and low birth weight of the baby.

3. Pregnancy is very complex, a lot of care and consciousness are required towards the pregnant lady. Always keep an eye that no vegetable and fruits left unwashed. Thoroughly washing of vegetable and fruits with water is very necessary.

4. Processed food like vegan cheese, pastries, desserts are high in calories and sugar which can lead to excess weight gain. Do not increase the intake of calories from the starting stage of pregnancy, increase it after 3 months and then in 6 months.

5. Avoid Alcohol. It’s always essential to stick with the beverages that are good for your health by not sacrificing your taste. Make sure that your baby doesn’t have exposure to too much alcohol. It increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.

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Vegan Pregnancy Benefits For Vegan Mothers

There are several benefits of being vegan. All the nutrients requirement of the body can be fulfilled through a vegan diet. Through some research, many benefits of a vegan diet are highlighted. Some of them are:

1. Improves heart health

A vegan diet includes all foods which are rich in fibre, antioxidants, potassium which all help in reducing the risk of heart disease.

Non-vegetarian diet includes meat, cheese, which are the main source of saturated fats and these fats lead to higher cholesterol level and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

2. Reduces the risk of cancer

According to some research, pancreatic cancer may cause due to red meat and by eliminating meats from our diet, risk of cancer may be reduced.

Some studies show that a 15% risk of cancer may reduce if you are a vegan. Legumes, nuts, vegetables and all other plant-based foods are rich in fibre which helps in preventing cancer.

3. Lowers risk of excess weight gain

Processed foods, dairy products, meat are high in calories and fats which may result in excess weight gain.

Gaining too much weight can lead to many complications like preterm birth, diabetes, high blood pressure, and can also affect the health of the baby and the mother.

However, BMI of vegans is lower than the people who are on another diet.

Vegan diets include all plant-based products which may help a person to lose weight and lower risk of problems associated with excess weight.

4. Lowers risk of diabetes

Diabetes has been linked to many problems like fatigue, infections and sores, blurred vision, weight loss. Eating plant-based food reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.

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Vegan Pregnancy Risks For Vegan Mothers

1. Nutritional deficiencies

Vegan diets contain no animal foods, which makes it difficult for vegan people to consume all the nutrients from plant-based products.

For instance, protein is found in some plants but in much lower quantity than what it is found in fish.

2. High carb

Vegan is not always associated with the word ‘healthy’, just because the food is vegan doesn’t mean it’s always good for your health.

In instant recipes of vegan many chemicals are added to make it taste better. Eating these foods can lead to gestational diabetes.

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Some Common FAQs About Vegan Pregnancy By Vegan Mothers

Q: Can a vegan get enough protein while following vegan pregnancy?

A: According to the specialist, vegan pregnant women required almost 70 grams of protein in a day to maintain metabolism and to keep her skin, bones and muscles healthy.

A person on a vegan diet is at higher risk of protein deficiency and it can be fulfilled by eating nuts, peanut butter, seeds, and legumes.

Consult your specialist about your diet and ensure that you are getting enough protein. Sometimes protein supplements are also recommended by doctors to vegan.

Q: Does vegan face trouble in getting enough B12?

A: Vitamin B12 plays an important role in producing red blood cells and prevent anaemia condition. Mainly this vitamin is found in animal by-products and dairy.

Around 2.8 micrograms of B12 are recommended to the pregnant lady. Add soy milk and cereals in your diet, ask your doctor if B12 supplements are required or not.

Q: Is it compulsory to take supplements during vegan pregnancy?

A: Supplements are completely safe during pregnancy and for breastfeeding too.

Now, it depends on how well your diet is planned, if you are getting all the required nutrition and vitamins from your diet, then no supplement is required to take.

Nowadays, herbal supplements are also present in the market. Just like medicines, supplements are also taken after proper approval from doctors.

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Q: What is the Indian vegan diet during vegan pregnancy?

A: Pregnancy is a time when extra care is needed. Indian food includes lots of spices, herbs and vegetables providing adequate nutrients to the body.

For 3 course meal in a day, make sure that the Indian diet plan would include all the meals which are rich in calories. Also, there should be less gap between meals.

Drink milkshake or glassful of milk in a pre-breakfast snack with some dry fruits.

In breakfast Poha, Upma, Rava, idli sambhar, paratha are the good options to eat.

Soups are the best option for mid-morning snacks. It can be made up of spinach, tomato, chickpea, pumpkin, beetroots, carrots all are a good source of proteins and vitamins.

In lunch, you can eat khichdi, paratha/ chapati with curd, or rice with curry or any lentil. All of these are a good source of fibres and carbs.

Q: Can I stay vegan during while following my vegan pregnancy?

A: Yes, there is no reason to worry, if you are pregnant and following a vegan diet. The only thing which is needed to remember is that your diet should be well planned and complete nutrients are included in it.

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The Final Words On Vegan Pregnancy For Vegan Mothers

There are plenty of reasons why people choose a vegan lifestyle. Some choose it for animal welfare while others opt it for health reasons.

Being vegan during pregnancy is healthy and totally fine. No risk is associated with the vegan diet for the mother and the child, as long as it is well planned.

In fact, many diseases can be avoided by eating lots of vegetables, nuts, fruits, and other plant-based products. It also helps in pregnancy to conceive the baby.

Still, a poorly planned diet increases the risk of many diseases. Therefore, it is always advisable to the people to take advice from your nutritionist to ensure that your meal has required nutrition for you and your baby.

Additional Resources:

Smit Kumar

Health & Wellness Coach: Smit Kumar believes in the philosophy of successful nutrition hunting mindset for the healthy body, mind and spirit.

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