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Vegan pregnancy

by Dakota

Dakota's Question:

I am currently in year 12 and am writing an Issues Investigation Report for my Nutrition subject at school, I am investigating whether vegan diets are suitable for women who are pregnant. It would be greatly appreciated if you could please give me you opinion as to whether you believe a vegan diet would provide sufficient protein for the growth and development of a child and the maintenance of the mothers' tissues during pregnancy?

Thank you.

Suzy's Answer:

Hi, Dakota!

This is a great question and one that, unfortunately, has not been well-researched.
If you are asking for my own opinion, I would say that it is unwise to pursue a strict vegan diet during pregnancy. This is not to say that it cannot be done, but only that I would not recommend it.

When you are pregnant, you are responsible for the life and future health of another human being, and that is not a small thing. The things you do during pregnancy will have a lasting effect on the child and for that reason I would not take any unnecessary risks.

Also, it is not just about sufficient protein, which is relatively easy to find on a plant-based diet if you pay attention to complementary proteins—those plant foods that when eaten together provide a complete protein such as is found in animal protein foods. If you want to read more about complementary proteins, click on this link.

Complementary Proteins

I am more concerned about some other nutrients that are necessary for a healthy baby. These include calcium, iron, Vitamin B12, and zinc. Click on this link to read more about healthy eating during pregnancy:

Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

Some nutritionists are also concerned about DHA, a type of fat that is important for brain development. This fat is found mainly in fatty fish, but can also be manufactured by the body from linolenic acid that is found in walnuts, soybeans, canola oil, and flax seed. It is so important that some women who pursue a vegan diet will opt to take a DHA supplement just to be sure.

Here are some outside links that may help you in your research:

Todays Dietitian

I hope this helps you with your nutrition project and that you will continue to educate yourself about nutrition. It is one of the best things you can do for a long and healthy life!

Thank you for visiting our healthy eating website and best wishes for a bright and healthy future!

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