Planning a pre-natal vegetarian diet
- With careful planning, a vegetarian pregnancy diet can be nutritious for both you and your baby.
- Daily protein requirements can be met with legumes, nuts, seeds, soy products and assorted whole grains.
- Taking a prenatal vitamin can help provide nutrients that might otherwise fall short in a vegetarian diet.
If you’re wondering whether or not you can get the nutrients you need during pregnancy while still focusing on a vegetarian diet, the answer is yes! As long as you know what nutrients you need to focus on and plan ahead, you can make the vegetarian diet during pregnancy nutritious.
Be sure to let your doctor know you follow a vegetarian diet and take prenatal supplements recommended by your doctor.
Healthy meal planning
Following these guidelines can help you keep an eye on key nutrients to ensure you’re getting all that you and your baby need during pregnancy.
- Protein: Your body needs protein in increasing amounts in pregnancy, as the volume of your blood increases.
Vegetarian-friendly sources of protein include:
- Legumes of all types such as split peas, lentils, black, red, white, lima and navy beans.
- All varieties of nuts and seeds, as well as nut and seed butters and high-protein snack bars.
- Soy in the form of soymilk, edamame, tofu, soy yogurt, tempeh and in a variety of prepared frozen foods.
- Grains and rice provide lesser amounts of protein, while quinoa, a higher-protein grain, has about 4 g protein in a ½ cup, cooked.
- Calcium: Your baby’s growing body needs Calcium, which means it may be pulled from your own reserves if you aren’t getting enough. Not down with dairy? Text Dotti, your Personal Baby Expert. She can set you up for a 1:1 chat with a Registered Dietitian to chat about Calcium supplements or Calcium-rich foods that might be an option for you. You can also include foods that provide or are fortified with Calcium.
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, kale and collards
- Salmon or sardines with bones (if part of your choices)
- Calcium-fortified beverages such as soy milk and orange juice (often fortified with Vitamin D, too)
- Calcium-fortified breakfast cereals
- Vitamin B12: Plant-based foods do not contain B12, but Vitamin B12 might be in your prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement. Check with your doctor.
- Iron: Iron is also needed in increasing amounts as blood volume increases for both you and your baby.
- Iron-fortified, ready-to-eat cereal
- Leafy green vegetables, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
- Raisins and prunes
- Peanuts and dried legumes
Along with your balanced vegetarian options, it’s almost important to consistently take your prenatal vitamins to help meet your nutrient needs.
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