A very happy and healthy vegetarian baby on board!
You may have been a vegetarian for a few months or your entire life. Or perhaps you are contemplating adopting a vegetarian diet.
What does that mean now that you are pregnant?
People who do not understand what it means to be vegetarian are often concerned when a pregnant woman is vegetarian. These questions always seem to pop up: Doesn’t your baby need meat!? What if you crave meat during pregnancy? How can you get all that you need in your diet without eating any meat??
As vegetarianism becomes more mainstream people are becoming more informed and even non-vegetarians are getting what is nutritionally required without the incorporation of meat in every meal. Many people are not only choosing vegetarianism for themselves, but raising vegetarian children.
Here are some tips and ideas for keeping you and your baby on a balanced vegetarian diet.
Getting What You and Baby Need
If you are an lacto-ovo vegetarian, meaning you consume eggs and dairy products, you will find that you are getting plenty of calcium and protein from these sources while pregnant. If you do not, there are many sources from beans and soy for protein to broccoli and fortified orange juice for your calcium and vitamin D. If you are new to being a vegetarian or leaning more toward vegan, which would rule out eggs and dairy products, there are many ‘meat’ supplements out there so you can make sure to get enough protein for you and your growing baby. Most are soy based, and often vegan, such as Morningstar Farms, Boca and Gardenburger.
Soy-free Meat Alternative
Quorn is a company that makes meat alternatives that are mushroom based instead of soy. Although due to using egg whites as a binding they are not vegan, they are a great vegetarian protein source you can use in many recipes you loved as an omnivore. They have a range of ‘chicken’ products as well as 'crumbles' which make a good substitute in recipes for ground beef. Quorn chik'n cutlets are a good source of protein with a fraction of the cholesterol, fewer calories and more fiber than skinless chicken breast making it a great choice for non-vegetarians too.
Understanding Meat Cravings
You may find you crave meat on occasion while pregnant, but that doesn’t mean your baby is a meat eater. Cravings are your body’s way of telling you it needs something. If you crave meat, the item at the top of your body’s list is most likely iron. Try munching on some avocado maki rolls. They are a light, healthy snack for the mother to be. The nori is full of healthy vitamins & minerals, including B12, A, B6, C, E, B1, B2, copper, potassium, zinc and of course iron. The avocado is full of calcium and fats that are very good for you and your growing baby. You will find these can curb those meat cravings. If you can’t find them at your local grocers there are simple and easy recipes online. The pickled ginger that often comes with maki rolls is also very good for morning sickness as ginger has been proven to lessen stomach contractions and ease nausea.
Choosing a Pre-natal Vitamin
Pre-natal vitamins are an important part of any pregnancy. But what if you don’t want to take a vitamin with ingredients you can’t pronounce, and would have trouble understanding with a dictionary in one hand and the bottle in the other?
Don’t worry, vitamin makers have answered your cries of frustration. Rainbow Light brand vitamins makes a wonderful pre-natal multivitamin that is not only vegetarian, but vegan. No animals or byproducts and real ingredients, not lab created synthetics, so you can read the label with a good bit of clarity. In addition to all the vitamins and minerals from natural sources, in these vitamins you’ll find things like red raspberry leaf and ginger to ease that morning sickness and to aid in digestion. You can find these and other all natural pre-natal vitamins at your nearest natural foods store.
Healthy Organic Choices
Organic is best for you and for baby, the less pesticides and additives the more good stuff for both of you. Remember to get lots of dark leafy greens and colorful fruits and veggies. These make for a healthy Mama and a healthy Mama means a healthy baby! If you are unsure of whether you are getting what you need from your diet while pregnant, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor. A nutritionist can also help you make sure you have a healthy protein balance for you and baby!
Happy Veggie Pregnancy!