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Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan

Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan

Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan

Pregnancy is a time of great excitement and anticipation, but it can also be overwhelming to have a well-balanced diet consisting of all the nutrients you need, especially if you are on a vegan diet. While it may seem intimidating to plan meals that provide all the necessary nutrients, with a little knowledge and planning, you can easily create a healthy vegan pregnancy meal plan. 

Wouldn’t it be helpful if we had that all planned out for you? Our sample 3-day vegan meal plan for pregnancy can ensure you enjoy delicious meals while also knowing that you are well-nourished throughout your pregnancy journey. Let’s get started!

What nutrients do you need for a Healthy Vegan Pregnancy?

Knowing what nutrients you need for a healthy vegan pregnancy is key to ensuring your body gets the nutrition it needs to support your growing baby.

We will go through the nutrients that are essential for a vegan pregnancy and how to incorporate them into your meal plan.

Protein 

Protein is essential for a baby’s tissue and organ growth while also helping the mother build tissues to support the growing baby.

People on a vegan diet may have inadequate protein intake if they rely heavily on processed foods and do not consume a sufficient variety of whole grains, tofu, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils.

An insufficient intake of protein during pregnancy may risk slowing a baby’s growth and development.

Protein is usually found in:

  • Tofu, tempeh, soymilk and edamame
  • Seitan
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains such as quinoa

The recommended daily intake remains the same during the first trimester, while it can increase by 50% during the second and third trimesters.

Starting in the 4th month of pregnancy, an extra 28g of protein per day is required. For mothers carrying twins, an extra 56g of protein per day is required. 

Some examples of 15g protein are:

  • 1 cup of cooked black beans or chickpeas or edamame
  • ½ cup of tempeh
  • ¼ cup of peanut butter
  • ⅜ cup of firm tofu
  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa or cooked whole-wheat pasta
  • ½ cup of almonds or sunflower seeds
Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan

Iron

Iron is essential as it helps meet the increased demand for the blood supply of the baby during pregnancy. The iron found in plant foods is called non-heme iron and they are not absorbed as well as the heme iron found in animal products.

The oxalic acid found in spinach and phytic acid found in whole grains, legumes, lentils, nuts, and seeds can also inhibit iron absorption when consumed together.

However, vitamin C can help the absorption of plant-based iron so it is best to consume iron-rich foods with vitamin C foods such as citrus fruits and dark leafy vegetables.

An insufficient level of iron can lead to anemia, preterm birth, and low birth weight

Iron is usually found in:

  • Dark leafy greens such as spinach
  • Lentil
  • Soy products such as tofu
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Various legumes

The recommended daily intake for pregnant women is 27mg. However, the recommended intake for vegan pregnant women is 48mg.

Therefore, an iron supplement of 30mg per day is recommended to ensure adequate iron intake.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for your baby’s brain and spinal cord development and red blood cell production.

It is only present in meat products and only a small amount of plant-based foods are fortified with vitamin B12.

An insufficient level of vitamin B12 can lead to the risk of miscarriage and premature birth

Vitamin B12 is usually found in:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Marmite + yeast spread
  • Fortified cereals
  • Plant-based milk such as soy and almond milk
  • Vegan “cheese” or “yogurt”

The recommended daily intake is 2.6 mcg but since it is hard to fulfill the requirement from fortified foods alone, it is recommended to take at least 25 mcg per day of B12 or 1000 mcg twice per week of B12.

Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan

Calcium 

Calcium is essential for your baby’s bone growth and develops a healthy heart, nerves and muscles.

However, many plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains are rich in phytic acids that can reduce calcium absorption when consumed together.

An insufficient level of calcium during pregnancy can lead to a risk of preeclampsia and bone fracture.

Calcium can be found in: 

  • Fortified plant-based milk
  • Tofu made with calcium sulfate
  • Almonds
  • Low oxalate leafy greens ex. Kale, broccoli, napa cabbage
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

The recommended daily intake is 1000mg.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for your baby’s healthy bone development.

There are two forms of vitamin D: D2 mostly found in plant foods and D3 which is synthesized in animals. Study shows that vitamin D2 present in plant-based foods is not as bioavailable as Vitamin D3, meaning that it cannot be utilized by our bodies effectively.

An insufficient level of vitamin D can lead to the risk of preeclampsia and low birth weight.

Vitamin D is usually found in:

  • Fortified plant-based milk
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Lots of sunshine

The recommended daily intake is 600IU (15mcg) during pregnancy.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for good brain health and mental development. It is also important for a baby’s eye, brain, and nervous system development. 

There are 3 kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA, DHA and ALA. The health benefits of omega-3 are mostly linked to EPA and DHA. People on a vegan diet consume ALA from plant-based food, and the body needs to convert it into EPA and DHA.

However, some studies estimated that only 5-10% are converted to EPA and 2-5% are converted to DHA in the body. Consequently, this can make vegans more susceptible to a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Insufficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids can lead to a risk of impaired fetal development and preterm birth.

Omega 3 fatty acids are usually found in:

  • Flaxseed (consume in moderation)
  • Chia seeds
  • Algal oil
  • Walnuts 
  • Hemp seeds

The recommended daily intake is 200-300mg of DHA during pregnancy but since it is hard to fulfill the requirement from foods alone, it is recommended to take a daily omega-3 supplement of 200-300mg DHA.

Zinc

Zinc is essential for your baby’s cell growth and brain development while supporting the mother’s immune system.

The zinc from whole grains and plant sources is harder to absorb into the body.

Therefore, vegan pregnant women need to consume 50% more zinc than non-vegan women to fulfill the zinc daily requirement. An insufficient level of zinc can lead to the risk of prolonged labor, preterm birth, and low birth weight.

Zinc is commonly found in:

  • Baked beans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cashew
  • Legumes
  • Soy foods
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Oatmeals

The recommended daily intake is 11mg.

Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan

Folate

Folate is important before and during pregnancy because folate helps form the baby’s neural tube.

Most people don’t consume enough folate from their diet so it is recommended to take a supplement before conceiving and during pregnancy.

An insufficient level of folate can lead to a risk of potential neural tube defects, which can affect the baby’s spine, spinal cord, or brain.

Folate is mostly found in:

  • Kidney beans
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts 
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

The recommended daily intake is 400mcg DFE for those who are hoping to become pregnant and 600mcg DFE for those who are pregnant.

It is recommended that all women who are trying to conceive and during pregnancy take a 400mcg DFE folate supplement daily.

Choline

Choline is essential for the development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. During pregnancy, a large amount of choline is shifted to the placenta to support the growing infant. Therefore, this can lower the number of choline stored in the mother’s body.

An insufficient level of choline during pregnancy can lead to the risk of neural tube defects and impaired baby memory function. Choline deficiency can also increase the risk of a pregnant mother’s liver and muscle damage.

Choline is mostly found in:

  • Green vegetable ex. Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli
  • Chickpeas
  • Soybeans
  • Kidney beans

The recommended daily intake is 450mg.

Iodine

Iodine is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis and a baby’s normal brain development. A vegan diet doesn’t include a lot of iodine-containing food since iodine is mostly from animal-sourced foods and the requirement for iodine increases during early pregnancy.

An insufficient level during pregnancy can lead to a risk of compromised thyroid and mental development.

Iodine is usually found in:

  • Iodized salt
  • Seaweed
  • Edible kelp
  • Nori

The recommended daily intake is 220mcg. Selecting a prenatal supplement that contains 150mcg of iodine is recommended.

Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan

What to include in your vegan pregnancy meal plan

With all the essential nutrients in mind, a vegan pregnancy meal plan should include all the essential macronutrients and supplements to provide optimal nutrition for both mother and baby. 

Macronutrients

A well-balanced vegan pregnancy diet should contain a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, plant-based proteins like beans/lentils/peas, and healthy fats. 

Prenatal supplements

It is also recommended that pregnant vegans take a pre-natal multivitamin-mineral supplement that contains all these nutrients:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Choline
  • Folate
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Zinc

We recommend prenatal supplements such as: Pink Stork.

Microalgae-derived DHA supplements are optional for the mother to decide but it is highly recommended. We recommend Freshfield Vegan Omega 3 DHA supplement and Good Earth Nutrition Vegan DHA Omega 3 Supplement.

Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan

Sample vegan pregnancy meal plan

Check out our 3-day sample vegan meal plan for pregnancy to get inspired about ways to put together a delicious and nutritious meal! Download it here for the Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan pdf.

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

  •  Also, don’t forget to take your prenatal and DHA supplements daily.

Please note that this is only a general example and you will need to adjust the portion size to your caloric needs. You need to make sure that you have the appropriate weight gain throughout your pregnancy.

Vegan pregnancy meal plan – Let’s Chat!

Pregnancy is a special time for expecting mothers, and it’s important to ensure that you are getting the right nutrition during this period. 

If you want to get practical suggestions on how to ensure you are getting all the right nutrition, book your free discovery call and let’s chat about how to create a personalized meal plan just for you!