How to have a healthy vegetarian pregnancy
How to be a veggie during pregnancy and still get all the nutrients you and your baby need
There are so many ‘dos and don’ts’ out there to process and consider during the nine months of pregnancy. And for those pregnant ladies who don’t eat meat, there’s a whole other minefield to navigate.
As many as 12% of British people are vegetarian. The potential benefits of a plant-based diet include a lower risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, and a vegetarian diet can also be cheaper.
But what about vegetarianism during pregnancy?
Without substitutes for the vital nutrients such as iron, omega-3 and vitamin B-12 found in meat, serious health consequences can occur and can even affect your unborn children.
The first piece of advice for any mum-to-be with any dietary concerns, vegetarian or otherwise, is to consult a nutrition expert. Someone who is anaemic or hypoglycemic, or with certain gastroenterology requirements, may also require specific help if planning a meat-free pregnancy.
Dietician Alex Cook of DUPL.me says, ‘A healthy diet is especially important during pregnancy. Try to eat regularly – three meals a day will help you achieve this balance and keep your energy levels up. And taking a supplement of 400mcg folic acid for the first trimester is recommended and 10mcg of vitamin D for the duration of your pregnancy.’
Vegetarian mum-of-two Alex says, 'You just need to think about what you eat a little bit more. Vegetarian mummies do need to make sure they are getting enough iron and vitamin B-12.'
Below are some alternative sources of iron, omega-3 fatty acids (commonly found in oily fish) and vitamin B-12 that pregnant vegetarians should include in their diets to ensure both them and their babies are getting all the nutrients they need.
Non-meat sources of iron:
• Dried fruit
• Dark green vegetables
• Wholemeal bread
• Fortified breakfast cereals (with added iron)
Non-meat sources of vitamin B-12:
• Yeast extract – such as Marmite
Non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids:
• Flax seeds
• Dark leafy vegetables
• Kidney beans
A vegetarian diet can easily provide all the nutrients mums-to-be need to ensure they and their babies don’t miss out on a balanced and healthy diet. A few easy swaps and additions to your diet is all you need!
If you are looking for some vegetable inspiration, AO.com have created a brand new interactive Vegetable Cookbook which features cooking tips and vegetarian recipes - including some vegetables you may not have heard of! You can take a look at it here.