3-5% of Americans are vegetarian, and I'm one of them!
(Well, strictly speaking, I'm a pescatarian. I do eat fish.)
People have a variety of reasons for choosing vegetarianism, from ethics to environmentalism to religion to health to personal preference. But when you're growing a whole new person, you may wonder: is it still safe and healthy, for both my baby and me, to continue being a vegetarian?
The answer is yes! You can continue being a vegetarian and still meet all of your and your baby's nutritional needs. It may take some careful planning and thoughtful eating, but you can do it!*
Just keep these guidelines in mind:
Be sure to get enough iron.
Iron is important for your red blood cells to do their job of circulating oxygen throughout your body! Eating a diet rich in Vitamin C will help you body absorb iron more efficiently. Vegetarian sources of iron include:
Track your sources of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is crucial to the healthy function of your nervous system, among other roles. Since vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal sources, you may need to plan carefully to make sure you're getting enough.
Vegetarian sources of vitamin B12:
Protein is important!
The American Pregnancy Association recommends 75-100 grams of protein per day during pregnancy. There are plenty of vegetarian sources of protein, so make sure to include them in your diet! Here are some ideas to get you started:
Choose a variety of healthy foods.
Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike should follow this advice: eat a balanced range of healthy food choices throughout your pregnancy. Limit unhealthy snacks and eat a rainbow of delicious, nutritious foods!
Always talk with your care provider.
As a doula, I love to provide informational support to my clients. However, I'm not a medical care provider, and I don't know your unique medical history. Be sure to have conversations with your midwife or OB about your diet and health throughout your pregnancy!
Now you have the Reader's Digest version of being vegetarian during pregnancy. If you decide it's the right choice for you, please do more research and make a plan for meeting your nutritional needs! You can start with the references listed below.
*Note: Some people may choose to take a break from vegetarianism while pregnant. If your intuition tells you that's the right choice for you and your baby, then do it!
Your Vegetarian Pregnancy by Dr. Holly Roberts (available in my lending library)
Hi, I'm Sara. I'm a childbirth educator and birth + postpartum doula serving Utah county. I'm a twin mom (plus one!), natural VBACer, and birth lover!