Being vegan can come at a price for those that opt to follow a plant-based diet. A lot of vegans are often a dumping-ground for advice from meat-eaters, who whole-heartedly believe that a vegan or vegetarian diet can't possibly give someone the nutrients and vitamins that they need. Throw pregnancy into the mix and a vegan is suddenly inundated with conflicting information about whether or not an expectant mother should forgo her animal product free diet for 9 months. As it turns out, maintaining a vegan diet when pregnant is totally doable, and it can be done without having any negative effects on the mother or baby.
Protein is an important part of most diets, as it helps build muscle and keep the brain functioning normally, but we don't need to eat a big ol' steak every day to get what our bodies need. As adults need around 45 grams of protein a day, pregnant women should aim to up the ante to around 60 grams depending on their weight. Beans, leafy greens, nuts, potatoes, and seeds are all fantastic sources of protein - some more so than meat. Contrary to popular belief, a vegan diet is often rich in protein when it consists of these food groups. What's more, it's possible to get all of the nutrients minus the cholesterol and saturated fats that come hand in hand with meat or animal products. Doesn't sound so bad now, does it?
What about iron? After all, mamas often have to take an iron supplement during pregnancy when they're not vegan, so surely if someone is forgoing meat entirely it'll be dangerous, right? Not necessarily. Iron deficiency is common in vegetarians and vegans, but as long as they are getting enough of the right stuff, their iron levels needn't be an issue. Spinach, tofu, and sesame seeds are all iron rich foods and combining them with other foods high in vitamin C will ensure a vegan mom-to-be can absorb as much of their goodness as possible. Ditching caffeinated beverages will also speed up the process, as the tannins and polyphenols make it harder for the body to soak up iron.
Lastly, a vitamin B12 supplement is important, just to be on the safe side. This is the standard recommendation for any pregnant vegans as the vitamin is vital for a developing fetus. Vegan moms can also fluff out their diets with dried beans, green leafy vegetables, and orange juice to be extra sure.
As always, be sure to consult your doctor before adding any supplements or changing your diet, to find a meal plan that will be beneficial for both you and your baby.
As long as you're following a varied diet full of vital vegetables, there's no need to worry. You've got this vegan mama!