SPOILER ALERT: SENSITIVE TOPIC
Vegan pregnancy is a quite sensitive subject since it rarely gets the approval of the majority. Therefore, we have been focusing our research on reliable websites and are going to give you the most recurrent information. Obviously, this page doesn’t prevail over the opinion of your doctor.
NO FERM CONTRAINDICATION
Among all the (reasonable) websites we’ve been checking and to our surprise, none officially advises against vegetarism during pregnancy or breastfeeding periods.
Regarding veganism, some of them do advise against this diet. However, they do so by mentioning the high risk of B12 vitamin deficiency … But this is without considering that most vegans are already very aware of it, even outside of pregnancy. At least we hope, otherwise, go and check our B12 & supplements page right away! HERE
Academy of nutrition and dietetics
Besides those various websites found along our researches, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (American group of more than 100 000 professionals) only to mention them, claims that: “appropriately planned, vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes”.
Altogether, being pregnant vegetarian can lead to nutritional deficiencies if it is not well planned. However, it is exactly the same for non-vegetarian diets.
The baby’s development implies a great need of nutrients. He/she will source them directly from the mother’s stocks. In every case, it is very important to have a very balanced and nourishing diet, mostly in terms of vitamins and trace elements.
What are we referring to when we talk about vitamins and trace elements?
- Trace elements are minerals present in the body in very tiny quantities. They are totally essential to our health balance. We talk about iron, copper, zinc, iodine just to mention a few.
- Vitamins are more well-known. We talk about vitamin A, B, C, D, E etc…
You will probably be prescribed with supplements for all these elements anyways, at least for the first months of pregnancy, and this, whether you are a vegetarian or not.
WHAT MUST BE WATCHED
Briefly, here are the elements you should be watching and reinforce while being veggie and pregnant:
– FOLIC ACID (B9 vitamin): can be found in dark green vegetables, leguminous plants and orange fruits. It is useful for the cells renewal as well as the foetus’ development.
– OMEGAS 3: fatty acids that allow the control of cholesterol and the development of the nervous system. They have a protective influence on the heart and circulatory system… (see the page Lipids, iron, calcium & others for more detailed information).
– IRON: it allows the transportation of oxygen from the lungs to all the organs of the body. Every specialist advises to emphasise this element during pregnancy because a deficiency, even for meat-eating women, is very common.
Check out our Lipids, iron, calcium & others page for more info.
– CALCIUM: also check out the Lipids, iron, calcium & others page for more information
– VITAMIN B12 : if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you are already supposed to be taking it regularly. You can have more during this period of pregnancy, surplus isn’t harmful.
(See the B12 and other complements page)
– VITAMIN D: it eases the absorption of calcium and phosphorus for a better bone mineralization.
– IODINE: iodine is essential for the thyroid in order to produce the hormones that allow the control of growth and the foetus’ cells maturation. It also contributes to the brain development. We find it in iodized table salt, white and black beans, bread …
Interesting fact, during pregnancy, the intestinal lining seems to be increasing its nutrients, vitamins and minerals absorption capacity. This means that your body will absorb more of everything it needs during pregnancy than usual. However, it is very important, mostly for vegans, to be taking supplements anyways, in iron, iodine, vitamin D and B9.
SHOULD WE LIMIT OUR SOY CONSUMPTION ?
This is an information that appears quite often in the different sources of information. Specialists advise you to reduce your soy consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding periods. This includes soy milk, yoghurts, tofus, steaks and all the other derivatives. Why?
It hasn’t been really well studied, nore proven, however the health world suspects that because of the phyto-oestrogens (close to oestrogens) that soy contains, it might be an endocrine disruptor.
The French Food Safety Agency recommends a maximum of 1 soy-based food per day during this period.
Nevertheless, we have also found articles (foreign mostly) that explain that on the contrary, soy would not be harmful at all. They say that the phyto-oestrogen, since they are plants-originated, actually help regulate hormones and help balance the thyroid.
To conclude, better be over precautious than not at all during this period but no need to panic either, being veggie and pregnant is perfectly doable.
Among all those precautions, there are some perks of being a vegetarian pregnant woman! Indeed, you have already stopped consuming a big part of the to-be-avoided foods including: red meat and fish, preventing you from the risk of consuming pollutants, antibiotics, get Listeria and others.
And most of all, you already eat much more fiber, avoiding the digestive complications you could have during pregnancy.
In every case, if you are veggie and pregnant, you should talk about it your diet to your doctor or to a nutritionist if you are pregnant vegetarian. This way, you’ll be able to adjust your diet and check on your potential deficiencies.