Your Vegetarian Pregnancy – and Beyond

Your Vegetarian Pregnancy – and BeyondBy : Kathryn Lamble

As a vegetarian or vegan, you want to stick to your principles, whatever happens. If you are pregnant, or trying to be, you are probably on the receiving end of advice about pretty much everything to do with your body and babies. In particular, you are probably hearing plenty about what other people think you should and shouldn’t eat, and what your child should eat when it arrives. Often, those opinions will be anti-vegetarian, claiming that vegetarian pregnancies are unhealthy. It can be hard to ignore those voices – but do not feel you have to listen. Research shows that vegetarians and vegans are easily able to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Eating meat is not a prerequisite for health, pregnant or not.

Preparing for Pregnancy

Pregnancies can sometimes be happy accidents, but if you are planning your baby, it gives you the opportunity to get your nutrition right from the start. The main thing to remember when you are trying to get pregnant is to eat a diet that is as rich in nutrients as possible. That will help prepare your body for pregnancy, and will give you the best possible chance of becoming pregnant. Your partner should also try and eat healthily – the healthier he is, the healthier his sperm will be. If you drink, you don’t need to cut out alcohol, but it could be an idea to cut it down.

Women trying to get pregnant should take a folic acid supplement to reduce the risk of birth defects. There are plenty of vegetarian food sources of folic acid too, including whole grains and leafy green vegetables. Eating them certainly won’t hurt but it would be hard to get the quantity you need just from food.

Being Pregnant

When you are pregnant, you need to eat a balanced and varied diet that includes all the nutrients you need to keep you strong and your baby growing as healthily as possible. You need to get a balance of fruits and vegetables, starchy foods and protein-rich foods. Particularly important nutrients for your baby include calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D and iron.

If you are vegetarian, then you can easily up your calcium intake by eating dairy foods. Good calcium sources for vegetarians and vegans include fortified soya, bread, dried fruit and leafy vegetables. It can be difficult for vegan mothers-to-be to get enough calcium – you might want to consider taking a supplement. Calcium is essential to your baby’s bone development. If you don’t eat enough, your body will take it from your bones, which could cause osteoporosis.

Vitamin B12 is essential to the baby’s general growth and development. Calcium rich foods are also often rich in B12, including dairy foods. For vegans, fortified soya and breakfast cereals can be good sources, as can yeasty foods (including Marmite). You may find you need a supplement if you struggle to eat enough of these foods. After all, not everyone likes Marmite!

Vitamin D is essential for general health and for strong bones and muscles. It helps regulate calcium in the body too. Pregnant women sometimes become vitamin D deficient, so you need to make sure you get enough. Our bodies make it in sunlight, but if you are dark-skinned or pregnant during winter, you won’t get enough that way. Most of the foods rich in it are animal based – meat, fish and eggs. If you don’t eat eggs, you should consider taking a supplement.

Pregnant women need iron as they might be at risk of anemia otherwise. There are lots of good natural vegetarian sources of iron, including leafy green vegetables, pulses, dried fruit, whole-meal bread and if you eat them, eggs.

Your New Baby

Once baby arrives, you should make sure you continue to get a good, balanced diet, especially if you are breastfeeding. Vitamin D is particularly important for breastfeeding mothers – if your baby doesn’t get enough, it may become deficient and risk bone diseases such as rickets. It is added to formula, but if you are breastfeeding, you might want to take a supplement.

Once your baby’s ready for weaning (usually around six months), introduce different foods slowly. Vegetarian and vegan babies are just as healthy as meat-eating babies, if not more so, so don’t worry about your baby not getting enough. Initially, it should be getting much of its nutrition from your milk, with food as an extra. You can choose to give your baby some of your food, food from jars, or both – as long as it gets the right nutrients, it doesn’t matter where they come from.

Above all, enjoy your baby! Having a child and thinking about where they might go and who they will be in the future is exciting and challenging. Less than a generation ago, no-one would have known what an impact the internet would have on us, and as for a related job such as working in an SEO company UK, parents would have had no idea that advertising would change so much from the famous billboards of the 60's. Perhaps your child will do a job that you cannot imagine existing. That is all for the future though – the next eighteen years are for your special journey together.


  1. what will you feed them if you wean at 6 months? That's the age where they start baby food, but cannot drink milk yet. Most mothers I know breast feed until 12 months.


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