All women whether vegan or not need to pay extra attention to nutritional needs during pregnancy.
To ensure a safe and healthy vegan pregnancy, here are a few simple guidelines for you to follow :
Your protein needs increase by nearly 50% during pregnancy. It isn’t difficult at all to get enough, there are plenty of protein rich plant foods. Make an effort to have 5 or 6 servings per day of the following foods :
Legumes such as peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas and peanuts. Soy foods including tofu, tempeh and edamame. Pistachio nuts and quinoa are excellent protein sources as well. A serving is 1/2 a cup.
2. Make Sure You Get Plenty Of Folic Acid
Folic Acid is one of the most important vitamins necessary for adequate fetal development.
It is especially important in the very early stages of pregnancy.
Good sources are legumes and leafy green vegetables.
3. Make Sure You Get Enough Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 along with Folic Acid, is also very important for your growing baby’s development. As there are no natural sources of Vitamin B12 in the plant world, it is essential that you choose products fortified with this vitamin. Make sure that your non-dairy milk alternative is fortified with B12 and look for enriched cereals as well. It’s also a very good idea to have a chewable Vitamin B12 supplement as well. The chewable tablets are better, as your body will absorb them more easily.
4. Eat Plenty Of Iron Rich Foods
Good sources of iron include dried beans, peas, lentils, fortified cereals, dark leafy greens,
dried fruit and whole grain products.
Most doctors also recommend iron supplements for all pregnant women, vegan or not.
5. Have Vitamin C With Every Meal
Including a good source of Vitamin C with every meal increases iron absorption.
There are loads of good sources of Vitamin C… strawberries, tomatoes, kiwifruit, pineapple, oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts, to name a few. It’s very easy to get plenty of this vitamin with your meals. A real easy way is by adding a glass of juice to your meals.
6. Eat Lots Of Calcium Rich Foods
You can get plenty of calcium from leafy green vegetables and fortified soy milk and orange juice.
7. Eat Nuts And Seeds
Aim for a couple of servings a day of nuts and seeds which are good for Zinc
8. Get Out In The Sun
Make an effort to get out in the sun for at least 20 minutes a day. If you don’t think you are getting enough sun, it’s a good idea to take a Vegan Vitamin D Supplement.
9. Make Sure You Are Gaining Enough Weight
Your doctor will be monitoring your weight, to make sure you are on the right track.
If you are having trouble putting on enough weight, increase your intake of healthy higher calorie foods such as avocados, bananas, nuts and nut butters.
10. Take A Vegan Prenatal Supplement
Your doctor will most likely recommend a Prenatal Supplement, just as they would with any pregnant woman. Make sure you take a Vegan Prenatal Supplement.
By following these guidelines, along with regular visits to your health care provider, you will be able to enjoy a healthy, happy vegan pregnancy.
If anyone you know has any doubts that you can have a healthy vegan pregnancy, just send them to this page to see some real Vegan Children :
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For approximately the first seven months, the diet of a vegan baby is much the same as that of a baby from an omnivore family.
For the first four to six months, babies don’t need anything other than breast milk. Or, if breast milk isn’t available, an infant formula. In the case of a vegan baby, they would need a soy infant formula.
Between the ages of four to six months, babies are ready for solids. Your health care professional will be able to help you decide when your baby is ready.
The first recommended solid food for infants, whether vegan or not, is an iron fortified rice cereal. Which is mixed with either breast milk or infant formula. Rice cereal is easily digested and unlikely to cause allergy problems.
Once your baby is used to eating the rice cereal and is having around 1/3 cup a day, it is time to begin introducing mashed and pureed fruit and vegetables. You can begin with things like banana, applesauce, peaches and pears. Also strained white and sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans and avocado. You should only introduce one food at a time, every three to four days, so it is easy to identify any food allergies.
At around seven months, your baby will be ready to drink apple juice from a cup. It is also time to start introducing protein rich foods. It is at this stage, that the diet of a vegan baby starts to differ from that of a non vegan baby.
The first protein rich foods for vegan babies includes thoroughly cooked and pureed legumes, well mashed tofu and soy yoghurt. You can also start introducing vegetables with stronger flavors such as kale and collards. A great way to do this is by mixing them with bland or sweet foods such as avocado, tofu and apple sauce.
At around ten months infants are ready for finger foods such as little pieces of tofu, meat analogs, bread and crackers. By twelve months, your vegan infant will be able to have nut butters or tahini spread thinly on crackers.
During this time of introducing solids, breast milk and or soy infant formula are still a very important part of your baby’s diet. And should be part of the menu until at least their first birthday. Breast milk or soy infant formula are especially important for providing your baby with zinc. Zinc can otherwise be low in a vegan baby’s diet. Regular soy milk should not be offered to babies before the age of twelve months, as it doesn’t contain the nutrients required by a young baby. The same thing applies to rice, hemp and almond milks.
It’s also very important that you discuss your growing baby’s needs with your health care professional, to ensure you are on the right track. Plus your baby may also need some supplements. Vitamin D is often recommended for breast fed babies in both vegan and non vegan families. Iron is sometimes recommended from around four months onwards, but that will depend on the foods in your baby’s diet. Some vegan babies may also need a vitamin B12 supplement, if their mother’s diet isn’t adequate.
Some people do feel nervous about the idea of raising a baby on a vegan diet, however it is really no different than raising a baby on any sort of diet. You just need to make sure that their nutritional needs are met.
Posted By Debbie
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Toddlers can be very fussy eaters with sluggish appetites and getting them to eat anything at all, can be difficult at times… never mind getting them to try new foods.
Full fat fortified soy milk can be introduced at twelve months of age. Avoid using other milks made from rice, almonds, oat, coconut or hemp as they are too low in protein and calories for young growing children. And of course, it is a very good idea to continue breastfeeding beyond the first year too.
Here is a guide, to give you an idea of what your toddler should be eating each day :
Grains : 6 or more servings
A serve is 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked pasta, grain or cereal, 1 cup ready to eat cereal
Legumes, Nuts And Other Protein Rich Food : 2 or more servings
A serve is 1//2 cup of cooked beans, tofu, tempeh or textured vegetable protein, 1 oz meat analog, 2 tablespoons of nuts, seeds or nut/seed butter
Vegetables : 2 or more servings - A serve is 1 cup raw
Fruit : 3 or more servings
A serve is 1/2 medium piece of fruit, 1/2 cup canned fruit, 1/2 a cup of juice
Fats : 3 to 4 servings – A serve is 1 teaspoon of margarine or oil
Fortified Soy Milk or Breast Milk : 3 servings - A serve is 1 cup
Don’t worry if your toddler doesn’t eat this way every day. Picky toddler eating isn’t a vegan problem, it’s a problem for most parents of young children.
If you’re worried that your toddler isn’t eating enough, try to focus as much as possible on high calorie foods such as avocado, bananas, tofu and nut butters. And don’t give them too many high fiber foods that will fill them up quickly.
Toddlers will benefit from half a dozen or more small meals and snacks throughout the day, rather than a few bigger meals.
Research shows that it can take as many as ten exposures to a new food before a young child will try it, so patience is required.
In addition to a healthy diet, supplements can also be used to ensure your child’s nutritional needs are met.
With vegan children, many health care professionals recommend supplementing with Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iodine and DHA.
Posted By Debbie
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As I stated in a previous article, Ensuring You Have A Healthy Vegan Pregnancy, your protein needs increase by almost 50% during pregnancy. I recently came across a great video, that shows you how to make sure you get plenty of protein in a vegan diet.
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Most women, vegan or not, choose to breastfeed knowing that breast milk is the best food for babies. Infants don’t need any food other than breast milk for the first four to six months and ideally should continue to be breast fed until at least their first birthday.
However, sometimes breastfeeding isn’t an option. Some women are unable to breastfeed due to health problems and medications they are taking, or are unable to do so after procedures such as breast reduction surgery. Some women just don’t seem
to be able to produce enough milk. In these situations, a soy infant formula is needed.
Unfortunately there isn’t currently a soy infant formula which is 100% vegan, as the only ones available are fortified with vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is made from lanolin extracted from sheep’s wool. As this is the only non dairy infant formula option available, most parents put the well being of their baby ahead of concerns that the product isn’t totally vegan.
Infants should never be given homemade formulas or regular soy milk. Babies have very specific nutritional needs, so it is essential to use only commercial infant formulas that have been manufactured to meet those needs. Health care professionals recommend a soy infant formula that contains DHA and ARA, two nutrients that are found in breast milk and are very important for mental and visual development.
If the vitamin D3 in soy infant formula is an issue for you, there is another option… that is to acquire donor milk from another vegan mother. Maybe you already know other vegan moms who would be happy to help. If not you can always look for vegan groups and forums online and possibly find help that way. Another option is to find a milk bank. The HMBANA (Human Milk Banking Association of America) currently has 11 milk banks providing donor milk to the USA and Canada. You can find locations here :
Whatever you choose, you need to do what you feel is right for both you and your baby. And always make sure that your baby’s progress is monitored by your health care professional, to ensure you are on the right track.
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It’s very important for vegan nursing moms to eat well, as calorie requirements while breastfeeding are even greater than during pregnancy. Extra calories are needed both to produce milk and to provide the calories your growing baby needs.
Some women are keen to lose a few pounds after their baby is born however it is important not to decrease calories too much as this could cause your milk supply to decrease as well.
Nutritional needs also increase, so it’s important to eat plenty of nutrient rich foods. Drinking plenty of fluid
is essential too, for producing adequate milk.
The two nutrients that require the most attention are Vitamin D and Vitamin B12.
It’s important for vegan breastfeeding moms to take a daily Vitamin B12 supplement.
And the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends Vitamin D supplements for ALL
breast fed babies, not just vegans.
Many health care professionals also recommend an Omega 3 DHA supplement for vegan nursing moms.
To ensure you get your daily calorie and nutrient requirements, you should aim to
include the following in your diet each day :
Grains and starchy vegetables 6 or 7 servings (a serve = 1/2 a cup or 1 slice of bread)
Legumes and soy foods 6 servings (a serve = 1/2 a cup or 1 cup of soy milk)
Nuts and seeds 2 servings (a serve is 1/4 cup or 2 tbsp of nut or seed butter)
Vegetables 5 servings (a serve is 1/2 a cup)
Fruit 2 servings (a serve is 1/2 a cup fresh, 1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup of juice)
Fats 2 servings (a serve is 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil or soft margarine)
You also need to make sure that at least eight of your servings be of Calcium rich foods.
The above recommendation is the minimum, some women will need more to maintain
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Most vegans face questions and criticism in regards to their chosen diet, mainly from people who presume that a vegan diet isn’t adequate. Unfortunately the negative comments and criticism can become even more intense during pregnancy, so much so that even the most committed and knowledgeable vegan can begin to have doubts when pregnant.
Unfortunately some women stop being vegan during their pregnancy due to the pressure they feel from family, friends and even sometimes their own doctor. It’s a shame because there is no reason why a vegan woman can’t have a very healthy pregnancy, in fact most do.
All women’s nutritional needs change when pregnant whether they are vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. Having a healthy pregnancy just means meeting those needs regardless of whether you are vegan or not.
The same criticisms can also arise when couples plan to raise their baby on a vegan diet. All parents naturally want to live their lives and raise their children according to their own moral codes and belief and nobody should be discouraged from doing so.
Studies have shown that a well planned vegan diet is safe during pregnancy and is also safe for babies, toddlers and older children. In fact many vegans have stated that they learned far more about nutrition and eating well after going vegan, than they ever knew before being vegan.
“Well-planned vegan, lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy and lactation. Appropriately planned vegan, lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets satisfy nutrient needs of infants, children and adolescents and promote normal growth.”
In upcoming posts I will be offering advice and information to help you have a healthy vegan pregnancy and to raise a healthy vegan baby.