If you follow a vegan diet, you no doubt raise some eyebrows already, unfortunately. When you become pregnant, all of a sudden, what you choose to put or not put in your body seems to become a matter of the public domain. Even when many vegan pregnancy meal ideas and guidelines exist, you can still expect anyone from your doctor to your friends at the gym to raise a few eyebrows when you tell them you plan to continue your cruelty-free lifestyle throughout your pregnancy.
There’s no reason why you cannot continue to follow a vegan diet when you’re expecting. In fact, doing so may prove healthier than continuing to eat animal-based products, considering the health risks that often accompany such consumption. Here are eight vegan pregnancy meal ideas to get you started on the right foot. After following these, the only limit to eating both vegan and healthfully while expecting is your imagination.
1. Start by Speaking with Your Doctor
Your doctor is the expert in which supplements can help you most while you’re expecting, as well as the guru of what foods to consume or avoid. Granted, many doctors practice more carnivorous eating plans, and you may need to take what they say with the proverbial grain of salt. However, they didn’t go through residency and beyond to steer you down the wrong path.
Your doctor also can analyze blood and other test results to determine a deficiency in any given nutrient. This alone makes keeping up with your visits worth it for you and your baby to be.
2. Make Protein Powder Your Best Friend
If you’ve followed a vegan lifestyle for a while, no doubt you know which plants provide the right combinations of amino acids to provide your body with all the building blocks it needs to make a complete protein. However, when you’re eating for two, you need to up your intake of all nutrients. Fortunately, plant-based protein supplements exist to nourish your developing child.
3. Step up Your B-Vitamin Intake
While it is true obtaining certain B vitamins such as B12 can prove difficult when you follow a vegan diet, supplementation can solve a host of issues. Tons of vegan supplements exist. Discuss with your doctor which one is the best for you.
When it comes to vegan pregnancy meal ideas, there are plenty of ways to get your folic acid. Oranges and grapefruits contain folate, as do broccoli, asparagus, nuts and legumes. You can make a Swiss cheese fondue with vegan cheese, and dip in broccoli and asparagus to give your developing baby a folate boost. While many use the terms folate and folic acid interchangeably, the former refers to the naturally occurring form found in food, while the latter refers to synthetically produced folate used in vitamin supplements.
4. Healthy Fats Help Keep Baby Brains Healthy
Do you love avocado toast? Guess what? Your baby-to-be does too, so eat up! Avocados are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical to protecting your brain health and helping the one of your unborn develop properly.
Nuts and seeds also contain a high amount of healthy fats. Other vegan fat sources include quinoa, sweet potatoes and, of course, olive oil. Coconut oil is a staple in vegan baking, and its slightly sweet flavor and creamy richness adds moisture to cake, muffins and more.
5. Eat More Than the Recommended Daily Value
Pregnant women not only need to eat more calories, but they also need more of every nutrient. While nutritionists debate the virtues of soy when you’re trying to conceive, if you’re a vegan, the plant offers a healthy protein source for your developing child.
Spinach is one of the best foods you can eat while expecting, as it contains calcium, iron and iodine, all critical nutrients to fetal development. Try this creamy tomato and spinach pasta, which also gives you a healthy dose of vitamin C.
6. Eat a Rainbow Every Day
Scientists continue to learn about how different plant phytonutrients impact human health. Phytonutrients refer to the chemical compounds that give plants their distinct color. Eating fruits and vegetables containing a rainbow of colors ensures you receive all the phytonutrients you need for optimal health. Start your day with a fruit smoothie containing berries in various tints, and nosh on a bright salad for lunch with veggies in every hue.
7. Go Crazy with Online Recipe Searches
I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite ways to waste a weekend morning is by looking up vegan pregnancy meal ideas online and heading to the farmers market during the summer months to stock up. Then, I’ll spend much of Sunday doing weekly meal prep.
Summertime means barbecues, so fire up the barbie and make these mushroom and quinoa burgers that will put the prepackaged ones in the freezer aisle to shame. Do you feel like mentally transporting to a south-of-the-border beach? Try asparagus and shitake tacos paired with a colorful corn salsa for a nutrient-dense vegan pregnancy meal idea.
Feeding Baby-to-Be with Vegan Pregnancy Meal Ideas
Yes, it is possible to eat vegan while you’re expecting, and your baby will get all the nutrients he or she needs to grow and thrive. Get started on your path to a healthier pregnancy and delivery today with these ideas while retaining your commitment to cruelty-free dining.