Vegan pregnancy is it safe, is it dangerous, do you need to supplement?
I find it really interesting how a lot of people, especially during pregnancy, think you need animal products. Where will you get your calcium if you don’t drink milk? Don’t you want your baby to have strong bones? What about protein?
No, it is not child abuse to raise vegan children and have a vegan pregnancy; in fact, quite the opposite.
All I hear with these questions is media. What the meat and industry doesn’t want you to know, is that milk actually robs calcium from your bones and leads to higher risk of osteoporosis. Also, the protein myth that vegans don’t get enough protein is false. I, and every other vegan I know, gets adequate protein through legumes, greens, nuts, seeds, superfoods, the list goes on.
We are inundated with opinions everyday about what diet is best, whether it be keto, high protein, starch solution, plant-based, HCLF, or raw vegan. There is a spectrum that is important to address, because not only is vegan pregnancy safe, it comes with incredible benefits to mom and baby.
Here are some of the benefits of a vegan pregnancy:
1. Less Saturated Fat
Animal products are very high in saturated fat especially cheese. Other sources high in saturated fat are red meat, pork, poultry and even fish. When you give up the animal products, you are immediately cutting out excess saturated fat.
2. Less Pathogens
Meat has a wide range of pathogens that could pose a grave threat during pregnancy. Since your immune system is at an all time low during pregnancy, pregnant women are more susceptible to food-borne microorganisms and getting sick. A whole food plant based diet can raise your immune system while also lessening your exposure to pathogens.
3. All Key Nutrients Met
I am sure if you are pregnant or a mom, you have read numerous articles on the necessary nutrients during pregnancy:
Protein, Iron, Folic Acid and Calcium
What’s so amazing about a plant based diet is by simply eating a variety, you are most likely hitting all the key nutrients you need.
- Protein- Beans, Tofu, Oats, Spinach, Whole Grains, Potato, Lentils, Quinoa
- Iron- Brown rice, Spinach, Oatmeal, Plant Milks, Kale, Kidney Beans
- Folic Acid- Broccoli, Asparagus, Avocado, Dark leafy greens
- Calcium- Brussels sprouts, Collard greens, Sesame seeds, Almonds, Figs
See my Women’s Health Post about the supplements I took and recommend
The American Pregnancy Association actually recommends pregnant women to avoid raw meat, deli meat, seafood, raw eggs, soft cheeses, and milk.
All the items on this list to avoid are animal based foods….interesting. If you look at the facts, it’s actually safer to go through a vegan pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association encourages pregnant women to eat fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes for a healthy pregnancy. All of these items are staples in a plant based diet.
If you weren’t already convinced, here are some stats from one of the world’s largest organization in nutrition: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“It is our position of the Academy of Nutrition that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan diets, are helpful, nutritionally adequate and provide health benefits through the prevention and treatment of certain diseases–”
Notice the words “prevention” of certain diseases.
Is there danger in the placenta? is there danger in pregnancy?
Their conclusion: “The main finding of our review regarding vegan/ vegetarian diets in pregnancy is that none of the studies reporting maternal fetal outcomes demonstrated or indirectly suggested higher risk of severe adverse pregnancy related events.”
Out of all the studies they did with vegetarians and vegans there was not one that suggested there would be a higher risk or any danger to the placenta or the baby itself.
I am not trying to convince you to go vegan, however the world would be a happier place. What I am suggesting is, don’t judge a pregnant woman who has decided to go plant based during her pregnancy. We all do the best we can with the knowledge we know. There is not one diet that fits all. In fact, you want to find out the best diet that works best for you. My suggestion is dig into your genetics and see what your ancestors ate. Learn what genes you possess that affects everything from your microbiome, to how you metabolize sugars, to your inflammatory response to certain diets. Here is a great book I recommend on this subject.
Links and sources