How to have a balanced diet for vegan and vegetarian mums-to-be!

Have a happy and healthy pregnancy with The Infant & Toddler Forum’s top tips for vegan and vegetarian mums-to-be!

Over the past few years it definitely seems that there’s been a growing trend for vegetarianism and veganism! Supermarkets are stocked with great alternatives and vegan and vegetarian cooking is all the rage. And the numbers back it up - in the ten years from 2006, the number of British vegans rose by more than 360 per cent according to The Vegan Society!

It follows that there must be growing numbers of vegan and vegetarian mums-to-be, however the advice for pregnant women often ignores this. Here to help, we have compiled our advice for vegetarian and vegan expecting mothers, to help all pregnant women maintain a balanced diet!

Top Tips for Vegetarian Expectant Mothers

  • Make sure you eat three servings a day of both:
    • milk, cheese or yogurt
    • eggs, nuts and pulses
  • It’s important to eat a food high in vitamin C at the same meal as eggs, nuts and pulses to make sure the iron in them is absorbed. High vitamin C foods include:
    • citrus fruit
    • kiwi fruit
    • tomatoes
    • pepper
    • potato
    • strawberries
    • mango
    • blackcurrants
  • If you don’t eat fish, a supplement suitable for pregnancy containing both omega 3 fats and iodine should be taken in addition to:
  • Take the Vitamin D and folic acid supplements recommended for all pregnancies

Top Tips for Vegan Expectant Mothers

Vegan diets are very low in some nutrients needed for your baby’s optimal growth and development. To help with a balanced diet, in addition to the Vitamin D and folic acid supplements which are recommended for all pregnant women, also take:

  • Iodine - take an over the counter supplement suitable for pregnancy providing 140-150mg per day (not kelp or seaweed supplements). This is really important for your baby’s developing brain
  • Vitamin B12 – this is only found in small amounts in fortified yeast extracts, fortified soya milk, fortified textured soya protein and fortified cereals. So you will need a B12 supplement as well
  • Calcium – having 3 drinks of fortified soya milk each day will provide you with a reasonable level of calcium, and alternatively, take a calcium supplement of 800mg/day
  • Iron supplements - if your midwife advises you. Iron is found in nuts, pulses and fortified breakfast cereals. Eat these three times a day and at the same time as a starchy food and a food high in vitamin C (see the top tips for Vegetarian Expectant Mothers for suggestions!)
  • Omega 3 fats – walnuts and walnut or rapeseed oil are a good source of omega 3 fats on a daily basis but take a supplement of DHA and EPA as well

If you’ve found this blog informative, why not share with your vegetarian and vegan expecting friends!

Further Reading

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  • September means the end of the summer holidays and a return to nursery or preschool. If you send your toddler in with a lunchbox, making sure that this is varied and balanced can feel like a challenge. Our Guide to Toddler Lunchboxes is here to help, with our top tips and suggestions. Continue reading

  • Mealtimes for many parents or carers can be a stressful part of the day. But please do not lose hope! The Infant & Toddler Forum is here to guide you through some of the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ with our top tips for a happy mealtime for you and your toddler!

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