Nutrients for a Vegan Pregnancy

In that brief period of bliss between poorly named “morning” sickness and third-trimester there’s-no-room-for-my-organs and I-can’t-eat-more-than-two-bites-at-a-time bloatedness, you can enjoy an abundance of tasty, nutritious, and energizing food that will benefit yourself and your baby. You may have already answered a few of the absurd questions that people ask about being vegan while pregnant, but during the time that you’re not turning green at the thought of food, your friends and family may start digging into the specifics of your diet. Here’s what I told ’em about mine:

There’s plenty of protein in soy milk, tempeh, tofu, fake meats, beans, hummus, peanut butter, and other foods that aren’t derived from animals. Eat some of these protein sources at every meal, and you’ll get plenty. When preggo, the average woman needs just 60 grams per day. Women need calcium throughout pregnancy but should ramp it up in the third trimester when babies’ bones go into developmental overdrive. The average woman needs about 1,000 milligrams a day, which you can easily get through dark green leafy vegetables, fortified orange juice, or a few cups of soy milk. (One cup of soy milk has about 30 percent of the minimum daily requirement for calcium.)

Many vegetarian foods are fortified with the essential nutrient B12, including some brands of nutritional yeast (sprinkle some on salad or your mashed potatoes, mmmmm), but whether you’re pregnant or not, take a sublingual vegan B12 tablet daily for good measure. My naysayer friends and midwives were all put in their place when I passed my mid-pregnancy iron test with flying colors. Again, dark green leafy foods (try braised kale with a little garlic) along with beans, other legumes, and dried fruit are all packed with iron. A great snack for us pregnant gals on the go is dried fruit mixed with nuts—it’s filling and packs a nutritional punch. As for prenatal vitamins and DHA—there are great vegan supplements available. Both the prenatal and DHA supplement were one-a-day but easy on my morning sickness–ravaged stomach. More questions? Check out this article from the Vegetarian Resource Group.

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  • tangerine commented on March 19, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Thanks for this very informative article! lol@ nutritional yeast..mmmmm… only a vegan can say something like that, we’re such health freaks. hehe /peace

  • Galia commented on April 15, 2009 at 1:36 am

    I’m starting to be a vegan !! this article change my minds about vegans and pregnancy , Nobody told me these things , neighter my mom , thanks !! Next year we are thinking to have a baby, I’ll take your suggestions.

  • Jenny commented on May 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I am four months pregnant. When I found out I was preggo my family begged me not to be vegan anymore. I’ve tried but I can’t do it anymore. This article put things in prespective again. Thank you

  • Jaya Bhumitra commented on August 31, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    @Galia and Jenny – you can check out “Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven” as well.