A Guide to Vegan Nutrition During Pregnancy

GUIDE: Vegan Nutrition During Pregnancy

Throughout this pregnancy, a lot of people have had the same concern and question: Do you eat meat or dairy now? The short answer is “nope!”

To elaborate a bit… I know that there are a lot of scary/weird articles out there that make a plant-based diet seem inadequate in the nutrients department. And of course, growing a healthy baby really comes down to getting all the proper nutrition into your diet – from protein to folate and beyond. The thing is… there are a ton of vegan options for every nutrient category and if you are a balanced and mindful eater, there really isn’t an issue. A healthy and whole vegan diet paired with a prenatal vitamin or two is enough.

The funniest thing to me is the fact that doctors actually have to warn you about animal-based products. I remember during my first prenatal visit at 8 weeks, the medical assistant was reviewing a ton of information with me, from tests to diet. She warned me against eating too much red/undercooked meat, seafood/sushi, soft cheese, deli meat, raw eggs, etc. I quickly let her know that it really wouldn’t be an issue since I eat a plant-based diet and she exclaimed “ME TOO!” and gushed about her own plant-based pregnancy experience. The only warnings I received about plant-based foods were mostly: no raw sprouts or anything that could have bacteria, be careful with hummus and unpasteurized products, no licorice root. (There may be more, but this is the advice I received.)

So, no, I haven’t strayed from my usual diet. This is my lifestyle now and it is what I feel most comfortable putting into my body. Today I wanted to share a quick guide on vegan foods that will help you meet pregnancy nutrient requirements. Yes, protein is doable. Yes, calcium is doable. Yes, it is all doable. Take a look at each header and see just how many options you have available to you. There are even a few recipes, too.

NOTE: Before I start, I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. This post is based on my own thorough research. Always speak with your doctor or a professional if you are concerned about your dietary needs during pregnancy, as it may vary from person to person.


PROTEIN

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 70 g daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Critical to the growth of baby throughout entire pregnancy

SOURCES:

  • Tempeh
  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Chickpeas
  • Beans
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Couscous
  • Soy milk
  • Peanut butter
  • Quinoa
  • Hummus
  • Edamame
  • Oatmeal
  • Boca/veggie burgers
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Peas

RECIPES:

IRON

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 27 mg daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: To prevent iron deficiency anemia, as well as giving your body enough iron to make more blood to supply oxygen baby

SOURCES:

  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Chickpeas
  • Tempeh
  • Swiss chard
  • Black and pinto beans
  • Potatoes
  • Tahini
  • Cashews
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Fortified cereal (Cheerios, etc.)
  • Pepitas
  • Prune juice

RECIPES:

CALCIUM

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 1000 mg daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: To strengthen the bones and teeth of mama and baby

SOURCES:

  • Fortified almond milk
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Almonds
  • Fortified coconut yogurt
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Oranges
  • Collard greens
  • Fortified cereal
  • Almond butter
  • Tahini
  • Chickpeas

RECIPES:

FOLATE/FOLIC ACID

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 400-600 mcg daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: To prevent neural tube defects and serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord

SOURCES:

  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Brussel’s sprouts
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Lentils
  • Okra
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Papaya
  • Pinto beans
  • Edamame
  • Beets
  • Split peas

VITAMIN A

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 770 micrograms RAE daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: For baby’s embryonic growth: development of heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, bones, circulatory, respiratory, and central nervous systems

SOURCES:

  • Sweet potato
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Mango
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus

VITAMIN B12

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 2.2 mcg daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: To help the development of fetus

SOURCES:

  • Supplement
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Fortified non-dairy milk
  • Fortified cereal
  • Seaweed

VITAMIN C

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 85 mg daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: To properly develop baby’s immune system, as well as collagen in bones and skin

SOURCES:

  • Red bell peppers
  • Oranges
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Guavas
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tomato sauce
  • Papaya
  • Sweet Potato
  • Grapefruit

VITAMIN D

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 600-1000 IU daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: To strengthen the bones, tissues, and teeth of mama and baby, as well as help absorb calcium

SOURCES:

  • Sunlight
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified non-dairy milk
  • Fortified cereal
  • Fortified tofu

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS/DHA/EPA

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 300 mg daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: To develop baby’s brain

SOURCES:

VITAMIN E

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 18 mg daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: To maintain the structure and health of baby’s rapidly growing cells

SOURCES:

  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Swiss chard
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsley
  • Kiwi

VITAMIN B6

RECOMMENDED INTAKE: 1.9 mg daily
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: To develop baby’s brain and nervous system, as well as help with morning sickness

SOURCES:

  • Pinto beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Avocado
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Swiss chard
  • Crimini mushrooms
  • Watermelon
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet Potato
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Spinach

VEGAN PRENATAL VITAMINS

These are the vegan prenatals that I use. I never had any issues with them! You can learn more about my vegan prenatal vitamin routine here.


I hope that this guide has been helpful and gives you a bit of insight into how easy it is to eat plant-based during your pregnancy.

That being said, if you ever feel like you need something more or do cave and have something with dairy or meat, do not beat yourself up. While this personally was not the case for me, I am not here to hold judgement on a pregnant woman with cravings! I found that if I was craving something like eggs or dairy, I would eat something with calcium or something similar and it would kill the craving. However, do what you feel is best for you and baby. If it happens and you feel guilty – move on and just keep doing the best that you can. Your body, your rules. No guilt.

My vegan pregnancy has been wonderful thus far. No issues or concerns. No major weight gain or stretch marks (yet). I hope that the same goes for you, mama. xx bianca

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