Are you thinking about a vegan pregnancy? Here's everything you need to know before making the decision - find out if a vegan pregnancy is right for you!
Vegan Pregnancy is Safe if You Do It Right
If you’re strict about your vegan diet, you may ask yourself if you need to change your diet as soon as you become pregnant. However, it’s been proven that there is no harm in being vegan and pregnant at the same time - the key is actually in the nutrients you eat. So, let’s see what to pay attention to during your pregnancy if you’re a vegan.
Intake Plenty of Vitamin B12
Most vegans actually lack vitamin B12, which is naturally found in meat and eggs. Lack of this vitamin can actually cause pre-eclampsia, low birth weight, preterm delivery, and it’s vital that you make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B12. However, you don’t want to break out of your vegan diet, and you have to find the right substitutes. That is why you should include nutritional yeast and fortified plant beverages into your diet. Also, don’t hesitate to take vitamin B12 supplements because your vegan diet lacks this nutrient a lot. Aim for about 2.6 micrograms per day.
Find a Non-Dairy Source of Calcium
If you want your baby to develop strong and healthy bones, and not borrow that calcium from your teeth and bones, you need to get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Since you don’t consume dairy, you should turn to vegan options, such as sesame seed, almonds, beans, leafy greens and fortified plant beverages. Also, vegan women are advised to drink at least one cup of plant milk a day in order to spike the calcium intake.
What about Cravings?
It’s not odd that you may even crave meat during your pregnancy, but if you don’t want to eat it, you don’t have to. You just need to find the right way to quench the thirst for unusual foods to your diet. Also, don’t eat seafood to quench your meat cravings, because of the high mercury levels in it. You can turn to some simple carbs in smaller amounts, such as french fries. You may even feel an even bigger craving for those potatoes as soon as you enter your 15th week of pregnancy, and you should give in sometimes. Also, you can eat some sweets if you wish or opt for healthy vegan snacks, but make sure to stay within a reasonable amount. However, if you notice that your cravings are linked to the lack of some nutrients, you should make sure to increase the amount of those nutrients and reassess your cravings when that’s done.
Rely on Vegan Sources of Iron
As a vegan, you probably lack some iron as well. Even when you’re not pregnant, you need to find the sources of it in order to avoid anemia, and this is especially important if you’re pregnant. As a pregnant vegan woman, you’re going to need double the amount than other non-vegan women, and that’s about 45 milligrams of iron a day. Good sources of iron for vegans include lentils, nuts, beans, fortified cereals, and leafy greens, so make sure you eat plenty of those every day. Also, you can pair any of these with a source of vitamin C (sweet peppers and berries) and you will boost the iron absorption. Plus, you can add some supplements to the diet, just in case.
Don’t Forget about Omega-3 Fats
The omega-3 fat DHA is important for fetal eye and brain development, so you mustn’t lack those. These are most commonly found in fish, but you should avoid fish even if you’re not a vegan during your pregnancy. The best vegan source is algae-based DHA supplements. You will need about 200 to 500 milligrams of DHA a day, and you can also eat chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts to increase the amount of these nutrients.
No matter if you follow a vegan diet or a non-vegan one, there are nutrients that every pregnant woman must intake. However, if you’re a vegan, you’re going to have to double the amounts. So, calculate the nutrients carefully and make sure you’re getting enough of them and both you and your sweet baby will be healthy and strong.