Can I Continue To Be Vegan When Pregnant? Yes, But Proceed With Caution
The road to having a baby is paved with questions at every turn. Your body is changing, and there are a list of things you're left wondering if you need to change in order to have a healthy baby. Dietary restrictions are one of the most questioned changes during a pregnancy. What's safe, what isn't safe, what can stay, and what can go — it can get overwhelming quickly. The questions only get more intense when you factor in a specific diet. If you're a vegan, you're probably wondering: Can I continue to be vegan while pregnant?
The short answer is yes. However, you've got to pay extra attention to make sure you're getting enough of the right kind of nutrients for you and your baby.
"Vegan diets can be safe if you're careful to get enough important nutrients," pediatrician Jennifer Shu told Baby Center. Shu went on to say that nutrients such as protein, calcium, iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 are all very important to your baby's growth, and difficult to get from a vegan diet. Shu recommended talking to your doctor or a registered dietician about creating a specialized nutrition plan to make sure you're hitting all of the nutrients and nurturing your baby and body throughout your pregnancy.
Reed Mangels, PhD and author of The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book, broke down weight gain, body mass index, and nutrition for vegan pregnant women for the Vegetarian Resource Group. Mangels goes the extra mile in her suggestions for expecting vegans, breaking down great ways to achieve extra nutrients throughout pregnancy via snacks that may be different from your usual vegan diet, but that satisfy all of the requirements in creative ways. Heightened sense of smell and hormonal changes can make your previous diet tough to manage while pregnant, and Mangels said that it's fairly common for women to gain aversions to foods like salads, dried beans, and soy milk — foods that used to make up a good portion of their vegan diets.
Both Mengels and certified nurse and midwife Tekoa L. King, reference several studies performed at a Tennessee experiment referred to as "The Farm," where all participants, including expecting mothers, stuck to a strict vegan diet. King told BabyCenter, "if you're a vegan, you'll want to take supplements that supply vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid when you're pregnant."
If you're a vegan, there's no reason you can't continue to be vegan while pregnant. The most important part of your nutrition while you're expecting is to make sure you're meeting all of the proper nutrient suggestions for you and your baby, no matter what your diet.