Veganism, which main principle is a strict refusal of food of animal origin, exists for quite a long time. Every day, the number of people changing their lifestyle to a new type of food increases. There are both supporters and opponents of the vegan diet. Especially tough disputes arise about vegan pregnancy. So, how does veganism and pregnancy combine?
A Little More About Veganism
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of all animal products in diet, a commitment to avoid animal exploitation to a much as possible. Veganism is the consumption of only plant foods. Vegans do not consume milk, eggs, meat, fish, seafood, do not use cosmetics and medicines which contain ingredients of animal origin or have been tested on animals. They also do not wear clothes and shoes that are made of leather and fur.
Sooner or later, every woman who abandoned all products of animal origin, faces the question: how to eat during pregnancy? On the one hand, it is clear that one must adhere to the old diet. On the other hand, they say that the future baby needs much more vitamins and minerals.
What if vegan pregnancy will cause a lack of some sufficient elements for the successful development of the fetus? Sometimes doubts take precedence. As a result, a woman temporarily abandons her beliefs and for the time of pregnancy returns to meat-eating. However, this is not a good option.
Firstly, it is a huge stress for the organism that has become unaccustomed to this type of food. Secondly, a properly balanced vegan diet will provide the body with all the necessary nutrients. This is the official position of the American Association of Dieticians.
Physicians have confirmed long ago that veganism and pregnancy are actually compatible.
Does It make Sense to Give Up Veganism during Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a new stage in life, involving the rejection of many common things. Proper diet during this period plays a huge role: it must be nutritious and useful. It’s clear, that the intrauterine development of the baby depends in many ways on the mother’s diet.
According to many doctors, absence of meat in the diet during pregnancy is unacceptable, as well as fish, eggs, dairy products.
So what should pregnant vegans do: adhere to the previously chosen form of nutrition or listen to the doctors? To answer this question, you need to carefully study the problem and outline the main advantages and disadvantages that veganism bring to the body of a pregnant woman.
Vegan Pregnancy: Negative Side
Devotees of the veganism believe that such food brings the greatest benefit and relieves many problems associated with the consumption of animal fats. But what should pregnant women do? It’s clear that the child during fetal development should receive all the necessary microelements, which are contained, among other things, in products of animal origin.
Many doctors believe that veganism is extremely bad for the health of the unborn child. Is it indeed so?
For the normal course of pregnancy, a woman must enrich the body with the necessary amount of protein, calcium, and iron. A full complex of vitamins, amino acids and trace elements should also be present.
It is believed that consumption of only plant foods cannot provide this. The results can be deplorable: from anemia and disrupting of the work of many body systems of a vegan during pregnancy to underdevelopment or death of the fetus.
Pregnant Vegans: Positive Side
Let’s turn to the positive moments about vegan pregnancy. And the first thing you should pay attention to is that a person’s sudden transition to another type of food will become stress for the body. What’s more, there are no proofs that the vegan diet will not provide a pregnant woman with all the necessary nutrients. The main thing is to organize the vegan diet in the right way.
Get acquainted with a few factors that speak in favor of vegan pregnancy:
- Fiber, contained in fruits and vegetables, improves the functioning of the intestines;
- The lack of cholesterol in vegetable food reduces the risk of obesity and diseases of the vegetative system in vegans;
- Absence of toxicosis or better tolerated toxicosis;
- Vegetable proteins reduce the burden on the kidneys, which means that swelling during pregnancy will not bother vegans.
Correct Nutrition During Pregnancy
- Start eating healthy food before pregnancy. Your body will store the necessary elements for reliable maintenance of healthy growth and development of the fetus.
- Gain weight gradually. Perfectly, a set of 3-4 pounds (1 pound = 0.45 kg) as a whole for the first third of the term and then 3-4 pounds per month during the second and third part of the term.
- Regularly visit your doctor.
- Limit foods high in calories and low in nutrients, such as various sweets or processed foods (potato chips, etc.). Keep the calories counted.
Vegan Pregnancy: Necessary Nutrient Elements
To make sure that you have a proper vegan diet, pay attention to the following elements:
Calcium. Make sure that your menu includes products rich in calcium. This will include: tofu, green leafy vegetables, kale, broccoli, legumes, figs, sunflower seeds, sesame seed paste, almond paste, calcium-enriched soy milk, calcium-enriched muesli and juices.
Vitamin D. The natural source of vitamin D in the body are rays of sunlight. It is advisable to expose the skin of hands and face to direct rays of the sun for 30 minutes 2-3 times a week.
If you do not have this opportunity, vitamin D can also be obtained from multivitamins or from fortified with it foods. Many cereals, soy or rice milk are enriched with vitamin D, as well.
Vitamin B12. This vitamin is not found in most plant foods. In order to get a sufficient amount of this important element, it is necessary to include products enriched with B12 in the daily diet.
B12 is contained in cereals, soy, or other substitutes for meat products, soy milk and food (not baking) yeast. Make sure that the composition of these products or multivitamins includes cyanocobalamin – the most digestible form of vitamin B12. B12 is a part of all multivitamins and is available in a vegetarian version.
Iron: vegetable diets are rich in iron. Beans, legumes, dark green vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and sunflower seeds, bread made from whole or enriched flour, cereals – all of these contain a sufficient quantity of iron. Nevertheless, during the second half of pregnancy, it is often recommended that women take iron supplements regardless of the type of the diet.
Separately About Proteins
During pregnancy, the need for protein increases by 30%. Despite the fact that many women are especially concerned about whether they get enough protein in such an important time, most women-vegans get more than enough protein. Eating generous number food rich in protein (like beans, whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat, etc.), nuts, seeds, vegetables) – women fully satisfy their need for protein.
Let’s Sum the Results Up
Thus, even during vegan pregnancy, you can get all the necessary elements from tasty and healthy food.
Therefore, if you have been vegan before pregnancy, do not be afraid to support it even during the gestation of the baby.
Additional Intake of Vitamins: Is It Necessary?
A pregnant woman should take all medical tests on time. During vegan pregnancy it is especially important. Very often, pregnant women are prescribed vitamins, but they should be taken only if there is lack of them.
Multivitamin medication for pregnant women should be taken only as prescribed by the doctor and in the recommended doses. It is especially recommended to take vitamin B12, as it is absent in plant foods.
With low hemoglobin, vitamins rich in iron are recommended. It is better to take drugs containing one vitamin or microelement, since in this case the doctor will be able to prescribe the exact dosage. Keep in mind that excessive amount of vitamins can have a worse effect than their lack.
Still it’s better to organize your diet in such a way as to get all the necessary substances from food. In fact, sometimes artificial preparations cause allergic reactions or are not acquired.
Having weighed all the pros and cons, every woman can decide whether she should keep on being vegan during pregnancy. Still, since the future mother is responsible not only for herself, but also for the child, it is necessary to consult a doctor and take the necessary tests. After all, the main thing in any choice is not to harm the baby and the mother herself.
Is Vegan Pregnancy Safe?
Yes, it is. As long as you eat a variety of healthy vegan foods and include key nutrients in your diet. Thus, you can get all the nourishment you and your baby need without eating animal products.
Still, in some cases, you’ll need to rely on fortified foods or supplements to make sure you’re getting enough of what you need. Let your healthcare provider know about your diet. And always consult your doctor, midwife, or a dietitian before taking any supplements while you’re pregnant.