The foundation of a healthy vegan pregnancy is a vegan diet that was healthy before pregnancy. One of the best tips to promote a healthy vegan pregnancy is to eat enough calories to promote the appropriate weight gain. Pregnant vegans should also take extra care to make sure that they are eating the right kinds of foods to make sure they are getting ample amounts of key nutrients. A little research is very helpful in creating a healthful vegan pregnancy diet, but consulting a nutritionist or doctor who has experience with the limitations of veganism can also be very useful.
Due to the plant-based nature of a vegan diet, it is common for women following this lifestyle to be slim with low body fat. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which are staples of the vegan diet, are naturally low in calories and contribute to this physique. While a well-rounded vegan diet can be considered a healthy approach to eating and living, low body-weight is not ideal for pregnant women.
During pregnancy, women need to gain weight to support and nourish the developing fetus and protect against poor health and low birth weight. In the case of a vegan pregnancy, the approach to gaining weight is similar to a non-vegan pregnancy: consume more calories. Plenty of vegan food items, such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocado, are relatively high in calories and full of heart-healthy fats. Increasing intake of these items will contribute to healthy weight gain. Another option is to simply eat larger portions of the meals normally consumed.
It is crucial to note that when it comes to a healthy vegan pregnancy, simply eating more is not always enough, especially if the woman’s pre-pregnancy diet lacked essential nutrients. One of the most common questions vegans have concerns protein intake. Vegans can get protein by eating beans, legumes, tofu and other soy products, nuts, and whole grains. These items, along with leafy green vegetables, are also excellent sources of iron and calcium, which are also crucial to a healthy vegan pregnancy.
Some nutrients, such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, and folate, may need to be added to the diet as supplements or through fortified foods. Vitamin D is relatively easy to acquire because many women are able to get enough from sunlight exposure, but fortified cereals and juices are other sources. Folate and vitamin B12 are crucial to healthy fetal development, and absolutely must be consumed in adequate doses. Even though a well-rounded vegan diet should naturally include enough of these nutrients, both are available in supplement form and should be considered if there is a risk for deficiency.
Seeking out a nutritionist or doctor who is experienced in vegan diets can help ensure a healthy vegan pregnancy. An expert who can help plan meals and expose possible deficiencies will be a great asset in making sure all nutritional needs of the mother and fetus are met. Furthermore, a specialist is more likely to respect the vegan lifestyle of the mother and work with her instead of questioning her lifestyle choices.