People choose to become vegan for many reasons. Some choose because of the rising concerns for the environment. The meat, dairy, poultry, and other processed food industries have a high rate of carbon emissions. But health is the most significant reason people choose to become vegans. A plant-based diet is often attributed to reduced risks of heart diseases, some types of cancer, and diabetes.
But many people are concerned with the health of vegans when they’re pregnant. It’s not a totally misplaced concern. Pregnant women’s health is the top priority for them in those nine months. Researchers even found that vegans are at risk of deficiencies in vitamin B12 and iron. But there are ways to ensure that women can carry to full term and give birth to healthy babies. You need to be very mindful of the intake of vitamins and nutrients.
Veganism’s Impact on Fertility
Among the evidence of a vegan diet’s impact is on fertility. Women who are trying to become pregnant watch their health like a hawk. It’s even harder for some who have other health risks and have a harder time getting pregnant. You also have to visit laboratories with incubators and opt for in vitro fertilisation.
To have a higher chance of getting pregnant and/or successful in vitro fertilisation, women have to adjust to a healthier diet. Studies found that plant-based foods help with that. Researchers also found that foods high on folic acid and polyunsaturated fats help as well. Plant-based foods help in fertilisation, so it’s not surprising that it can also help in pregnancy.
Health Requirements for Pregnant Women
All pregnant women, regardless of your diet, need to watch your intake of vitamins and minerals. You have to consume food and supplements that increase your calcium, folate, iron, and protein. You also need complex carbohydrates, healthy fat such as omega-3, and other nutrients.
You also have to consume about 350 calories a day in your second trimester. Then, in the third trimester, you must consume about 450 calories a day. This isn’t surprising. After all, you really are eating for two.
Some people might think that a vegan diet can’t meet these health requirements. Don’t fret because studies support that maintaining a vegan diet is safe for pregnancies. But there are limited resources that would further support this. And there are other factors to consider. One of the factors is the women’s financial capacity to buy quality vegan foods. Another is the availability of vegan foods in their locations. But for those women who have access to quality vegan foods can have successful pregnancies and childbirths.
Plant-Based Foods Rich in Nutrients
To maintain a healthy vegan diet during your pregnancy, be sure to eat foods such as beans, nuts, and seeds. These are great sources of fibre, protein, iron, and zinc. As a vegan, you’re already familiar with eating these. But as a pregnant woman, you may need to include these more in your meals.
For your protein intake, it would be better to lessen your intake of imitation meat. So say no to the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger for now. Yes, these are all still plant-based. But they tend to have high amounts of fat and sodium. This is because they are trying to imitate as much as possible the taste of meat. In this case, it would be better to choose tofu and tempeh during your pregnancy.
To ensure high levels of your vitamin B12, you can choose to add nutritional yeast more to your meals. This is often used in vegan cooking anyway. It also helps with lowering your cholesterol and free radicals in your body.
And, of course, like all pregnant women, you must also eat more fruits and vegetables. They are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Dealing with Cravings
We’ve all seen that episodes of Friends where a pregnant Phoebe was craving meat despite her vegetarian lifestyle. Meat cravings are common in vegetarian and vegan pregnant women. Some may find this odd. After all, how could they crave for something they haven’t eaten in years? But studies found that these cravings are rooted in health concerns. It’s a sign of vitamin B12 and iron deficiency. If this happens to you, you can eat foods high on these nutrients to control the cravings.
In the end, what matters the most to pregnant women is the intake of vitamins and minerals. It could come from meat, poultry, and dairy. It could come from grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. As long as you watch your health, you can carry your baby to full term and have a successful childbirth.