Being vegan can be quite difficult for some. Being pregnant can also be difficult. Putting those two together, being vegan during pregnancy can be a definite challenge. I’m here to break it down for you so that you can manage a vegan pregnancy with ease.
What to eat as a vegan during pregnancy
When you think of the word “vegan”, the first thought that comes to mind is usually food. Therefore, let’s begin with what types of food are good to eat during pregnancy.
This is a time when your body is doing the most amazing thing in nature – creating offspring. You want to eat the right foods to help your body do the best it can at this job. There are several nutrients that are extra crucial to consume in abundance.
4 crucial nutrients needed during pregnancy
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Below are 4 nutrients that are vital during pregnancy. There are more but these are the ones I will focus on here. More information can be found on the March of Dimes’ website.
- Folic acid – This is one of the most important vitamins needed during pregnancy. Not only should you take a folic acid supplement during pregnancy, but it’s also important to take it before getting pregnant while trying to conceive. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects in the baby’s brain and spine. NOW supplements Folic Acid is what I took during pregnancy and it was amazing. The pills are tiny so it’s very easy to swallow, for those that have difficulty with pills.
- Calcium – This mineral is vital for building your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles, and nerves. A good source of calcium in plant based foods is fortified soy milk, orange juice, kale, and broccoli.
- DHA – This is a fat that helps your baby’s brain and eyes develop. It’s a type of omega 3, which is only found in fish and algae. Being vegan means you cannot have fish. Therefore, the only vegan source for DHA is algae, like seaweed. There are also many vegan DHA supplements that you can take to ensure you get the necessary amount. Some of these supplements have a fishy flavor which I didn’t like so I chose Naturesage Vegan Omega 3 and it had no flavor at all.
- Iron – This is another crucial mineral needed during pregnancy. Iron is responsible for making hemoglobin which helps transport oxygen throughout your body. You need double the amount of iron during pregnancy since your body is transporting oxygen to your baby. Iron is also needed to help your baby make her own blood.
Besides eating a well-balanced diet that includes the nutrients mentioned above, it is recommended to take a prenatal vitamin every day during pregnancy to ensure that your body gets everything it needs to grow your baby.
Finding the right vegan pregnancy supplement
I had many issues with finding the right vegan pregnancy supplement. Firstly, most prenatal supplements include DHA sourced from fish so it’s not vegan. The ones that don’t include DHA are usually massive pills that I just couldn’t swallow.
I was extra sensitive to taking pills while I was pregnant, due to morning sickness. Every time I took my prenatal, I would vomit. Nothing helped – crushing it and adding it to a smoothie, taking the pill with applesauce, taking it with chocolate pudding.
I dreaded taking it every day, so I searched for a vegan prenatal gummy that I can take. Who doesn’t like gummies?
I found Garden of Life mykind Organics gummy prenatals and I was so excited to take them. They actually tasted really good and I didn’t get nauseous from them so that definitely solved the big issue I had.
However, since they were vegan, they didn’t include DHA. They also didn’t include iron which is a must during pregnancy.
I took a vegan DHA supplement in addition to the prenatal gummies. As far as iron went, I had to take iron supplements on the side to ensure my iron stores weren’t dropping, which they did anyway.
That’s another story, which you can read more about in my post about iron during pregnancy.
Nutrient-dense vegan foods
Some foods contain so many vitamins and nutrients needed, especially while pregnant. Below is a list of foods that I ate while pregnant that helped me:
- Tofu – protein, magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamin B1
- Beans – protein, fiber, folic acid, iron, potassium, magnesium
- Nuts – fat, protein, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E
- Tahini – protein, fat, copper, potassium, fiber, calcium
- Seaweed – omega 3 DHA, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, K, calcium, folic acid
- Broccoli – iron, fiber, protein, potassium, calcium, selenium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, E, K, folic acid
- Spinach – iron, vitamins A, C, K, folic acid, potassium
- Avocado – fat, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, C
- Oats – protein, copper, iron, selenium, magnesium, zinc
To wrap up
From the above list, you can see that many nutrients are found in plant-based foods. Whatever is found in non-vegan foods can be found in plants.
The only exception is vitamin B12 which can easily be supplemented with a vitamin. Additionally, the folic acid and prenatal which I took (and linked above) include B12.
I hope you can see that being vegan during pregnancy is not as difficult as it may seem. It’s important to get the right nutrients whether you’re vegan or not.
Being vegan just means finding the right cruelty free foods which contain the necessary nutrients for you.
Have questions or comments? I am happy to hear from you. Comment below and I will send you a reply.
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