Nutrition Guide and Resources for a Healthy Vegan Pregnancy

A vegan diet that recognizes all essential nutrients can do the mother and baby a world of good.

Welcome, Mamas!

Today we are jumping right into how to have a healthy and happy vegan pregnancy. If you are new to the Vegan diet, having a vegan pregnancy may seem a bit overwhelming, but to be quite frank with you, it is just as easy as any other pregnancy! We just have to make sure that we are reaching our nutritional goals while also listening to our bodies.

Pregnancy is such a miracle.

As women, we have the amazing opportunity to grow a little human (or humans!) inside of our womb and care for them through proper nutrition, lots of rest, stress-relieving activities such as meditation or reading, heart-healthy activities such as walking and pregnancy safe workouts, and belly rubs while gently singing your favorite songs (got to start them young on good music, am I right?!).

This miracle requires a lot from our bodies. Pregnancy is a time where our bodies hit their highest metabolic and nutritional demands. We need to be aware of what we are eating and how to reach our nutritional demands without going bonkers. Vegan and non-vegans alike go through this stressful period of “Am I doing enough!?” and I have to tell you….if you care enough to read and research, I am positive that you are doing enough.

This guide is not a complete guide for every woman.

We are all different and we all require a bit more of this and a bit more of that. It is crucial to get your bloodwork done as soon as possible to see where you need to pick up the pace or where you are good to go. Some key nutritional values that are crucial in pregnancy are Folic Acid, Iron, Calcium, Vitamin D, DHA, and Iodine. 

To begin our guide, we will chat more about these and how you can reach your goal without any animal products!

We will then move onto Vegan Specific needs, helpful tips and resources, and a few of my favorite books.

Nutrition Guide and Resources for a Healthy Vegan Pregnancy

Nutrition Guide and Resources for a Healthy Vegan Pregnancy

A Quick Daily Checklist for Pregnancy

Looking for an easy-to-follow checklist to help meet your daily nutritional requirements? Follow these 5 steps!

  • Eat at least 5 servings a day of nuts, beans, tempeh, legumes, fortified milk, veggie meats or nut/seed butter.

  • Eat a wide and colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. Green leafy vegetables, those with high vitamin C, and dark vegetables/fruits are great for pregnancy!

  • If possible, opt for whole grains. Select healthy fat sources like avocados, nuts, nut/seed butter, seeds, coconut butter, and the like.

  • Eat calcium-rich foods every single day: aim for 5-6 servings.

  • Use a trusted vegan supplement (we list our recommendations at the end) to meet your daily nutritional needs.

Key Nutritional Values in Pregnancy


Folic Acid: 600 mg/daily

This vitamin is VERY easy for most vegans and vegetarians to come by without the need for supplementation (although this is in all pre-natal vitamins!). Folic acid is found in an array of vegetables, so as long as you are consuming your daily required intake, you should be fine! A deficiency in folic acid is linked to neural tube defects. Some of the best sources of folic acid are orange juice, leafy greens, beans/lentils, whole grains, and wheat flour.

Iron: 27mg/daily

Pregnant women, vegan and non-vegan alike, have the highest need for Iron due to the increased blood volume, development of the fetus, and possible blood loss in delivery. A great thing to note: Our bodies are iron machines during pregnancy and if you have an iron deficiency from any of the above reasons, maternal iron stores will usually meet the baby’s needs so that they are not born with iron-deficiency unless the mother is severely anemic.

One of my favorite ways to reach my iron levels is to use blackstrap molasses in my daily intake. I use 1 tsp in tea, add it to cookies, smoothies, and I also blend it into my dressings! This has been a wonderful and delicious way to boost my iron levels. The best food sources of iron are spinach, leafy greens, potatoes, dried fruits, beans, tofu, peas, seeds, nuts, soy milk, and fortified foods. It is highly recommended to consume a source of Vitamin C with the iron-rich foods for best absorption

Bloodwork is crucial to find out where your iron levels are and how you should go about to boost or regulate them.

Calcium: 1000mg/daily

Calcium is quite easy to come by if you eat the right foods. Some great vegan calcium-rich foods are fortified milks, fresh fruit, juice, cereals, fortified tofu, beans, sesame seeds, nuts, and figs. One of the key things to note with calcium is to NOT overdo it. It is extremely easy for us to get too much calcium. The limit for daily intake should be no more than 2,500 mg per day. If taking a supplement, opt for one that has below 400 mg because you will reach your daily intake with just one bowl of cereal.

Vitamin D: 10-40 micrograms/daily

The interesting thing about Vitamin D is that the recommended dose is just 5 micrograms per day but many researchers argue that it is set too low. So for this, we will set it at 10-40 (50 is the upper limit which is safe) per day. Vitamin D is a vitamin that is not so easy to find for both vegans and non-vegans – it is not found in most foods!

Vitamin D can be made from exposure to the sun, and that may be easy for some of us but may pregnant women are stuck at work or spend most of their time indoors. The use of sunscreen also inhibits Vitamin D (p.s. if you ARE using sunscreen, please use something safe like badger balm).

One of the most popular ways that vegans and non-vegans reach their vitamin D goals is to take a supplement of 5-10 micrograms daily. You can also reach for Vitamin D fortified foods such as soy milk, cereals, orange juice, and bars.

Note: Vitamin D3 is derived from animal sources. Vegans have the D2 form. D2 is not as well absorbed as the D3 form, so vegans should strive for the higher end of the recommended range (10-40 micrograms)

Nutrition Guide and Resources for a Healthy Vegan Pregnancy

Nutrition Guide and Resources for a Healthy Vegan Pregnancy

DHA & Omega-3 Fatty Acids

While Omega-3’s can be found in super easy to find vegan foods, DHA will have to come from a supplement that is derived from algae. 200-300 milligrams/daily of DHA is recommended to reduce the risk of premature birth and healthy brain development.

As for Omega-3’s, we can easily reach our daily intake needs by incorporating flax meal, walnuts, and chia seeds into our diet. You can also opt for flaxseed, walnut, canola, or hempseed oils. Just 1 tbsp of seeds or a small handful of walnuts will get you to your daily recommended intake.

Iodine: 150mcg/daily

Many women around the world do not get enough of their daily recommended iodine intake. It is crucial to reach your daily intake for the health of your baby. The best way to do this is to use a supplement, such as a prenatal vitamin. Be sure that your supplement has at least 150mcg of iodine.

You can also opt to use an iron specific supplement. Iodized salt can be an easy addition to the daily diet to boost your iodine count. Sea vegetables are a rich source of iodine but their levels are a bit extreme; it’s best to stay within the recommended daily amount.

Zinc

This is another nutrient that many women, vegan and non-vegan alike, are deficient in. The daily required amount jumps from 8 to 11 milligrams per day in pregnancy.

Great sources of zinc include legumes, whole grains, and nuts. Check that your prenatal vitamin provides 15 milligrams of zinc.

Vitamin B12: 2.6 micrograms/daily

If you have been vegan for more than a day, I am sure that you have heard about vitamin B12 haha. Do not worry, we can easily reach our daily requirement on a vegan diet. Vitamin b12 plays a crucial role in the development of your baby’s nervous system. Our body stores vitamin b12 for our own use but this stored b12 has not been shown to be readily available to the fetus. We must eat b12 rich foods and/or take a b12 supplement to reach our baby’s needs.

Pregnany women should have a goal of 2.6 micrograms per day. We can easily find B12 in fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, non-dairy milk, bars, meat substitutes, and Nutritional yeast. Many use fortified foods and a B12 supplement together.

Note: Tempeh, sprouted beans, sea vegetables, and algae contain b12 analogs with block the absorption of b12. Do not confuse these foods with B12 rich foods.

Protein: 60-85 grams/daily

Vegans have NO problems reaching their daily protein intake if they have a healthy, well-balanced diet. There are just so many options, it’s quite silly to even make this suggestion! When it comes to pregnancy however, our protein needs increase because we must not only maintain our own body, but also the developing muscles, bones, and organs of our children.

The protein recommendation for pregnant women is between 60-85 grams/daily. The amount does vary based on your weight. For an exact number, seek out a plant-based nutritionist to run the numbers.

Some easy ways to incorporate protein into your vegan diet is to add beans, tofu, tempeh, fortified milk, nuts, seeds, nut butter, veggie meats and even vegan protein powder to your diet. I absolutely love to add nut butter to my daily smoothies to get a nice boost in the morning.

Some easy to make protein-packed meals: Buddha bowls, lentil soup, smoothies, apples and nut butter, trail mix, and tofu/chickpea curry.

Additional Tips for Pregnancy

A few additional tips for a healthy vegan pregnancy:

  • Current BMI: Women whose BMI is underweight or overweight during conception are at a higher risk for pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, having a very large/small infant, and having a premature baby. You can get an idea of your BMI via this calculator. I would like to note one thing; if you are very muscular, your BMI will be way off. For a more accurate answer, please use these ways to test.

  • Weight Gain: The average weight gain over the course of 9 months is around 25-35 pounds. For underweight women, the average is 28-40 pounds. For overweight women, 15-25 pounds. For multiple births, it can range between 35-55 pounds (lucky me haha!). These numbers are just basic guidelines and your continuous doctor checkups will keep you on track. If you follow a healthy diet and eat for your body (and your baby’s) needs, you will be fine. The first trimester will usually see a weight gain of maybe 5 pounds or even weight loss if severe nausea is happening.

  • What to Avoid: No alcohol. No drugs. No raw sprouts. No unpasteurized juices.

  • Water Intake: Drink your water! Drink up, drink up. Try infused waters, non-decaffeinated teas, fresh juices, or even whole fruit with high H20 content.  If you are pregnant in hotter months, please drink more than usual. Dehydration can lead to early labor because the hormones that stimulate contractions will be in high concentrations in a body that is not hydrated.

  • Cravings: Although there are times that cravings can trigger a deficiency, usually they are just telling you to go to sleep, get more comfortable, or relieve some stress. Cravings are not harmful unless they are really wreaking havoc on your diet. If you ever crave non-food like dirt or clay, check on your iron and zinc levels.

  • Having Multiples? Congratulations and welcome to the club! As a mom carrying more than one baby, you will need to eat more, gain more weight, drink more water and intake more vitamins and minerals. It is recommended to find an expert in nutrition to help you figure out your meal plan for this pregnancy: get ready to devour a lot!

Recommended Prenatal Vitamins

Click on the photo or title to learn more

Helpful Resources + Cookbooks

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Nutrition Guide and Resources for a Healthy Vegan Pregnancy

Nutrition Guide and Resources for a Healthy Vegan Pregnancy

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A Simple Story of Our Ikea Kitchen
A Simple Story of Our Ikea Kitchen

The first kitchen that I had as a new mother cost us 300 bucks on Facebook marketplace. It actually came with our bed and closet included. To be honest, that still hurt us financially at the time. We were that broke. I distinctly remember Martin going from a head of dark brown hair to a head of grey from the stress.

I created my first cooking video in that kitchen; surrounded by my infant twin sons in bouncy chairs, a 12-year-old laptop that somehow still turned on and hope. I don’t know why really….but I had hope that I could do this. I taught Martin how to be Vegan (although, to be honest, he is a vegetarian) in that kitchen. He was introduced to smoothies, hummus, my trusty seeds, beans and nuts that I crushed, blended and whipped into meals that he devoured.

He always made sure to tell me how yummy it all was.

My sons taught themselves how to eat in that old kitchen and their love of food grew and grew daily: with every green drink, blended dip, and steamed veggie.

A Simple Story of Our Ikea Kitchen

Story of Our Ikea Kitchen

To this day, they let me know how yummy it all is with loud moans and YUMMMMMs that makes my heart smile.

I took recipe photos with my used and abused iPhone and posted them with such excitement: to me, they looked just as good as those fancy ones you see all over Pinterest. We may have upgraded our kitchen during our move from one apartment to another but the food tastes the same. It’s all the same. No amount of fancy can change that.

It took us 2 full years to save for this kitchen and we are grateful for it every single day….but we never once spoke ill of our first kitchen.

the old kitchen

The first kitchen will always be super special to us

She was, and will always be, our first. ♥️

To anyone out there who is stuck in a comparison trap: the heavy burden that social media puts on our self-worth….I just want you to know that wherever you are, you can do it. You can dream. You can have hope. I promise you.

You can ask the universe to grant your wishes. You can manifest and see the positive.

I hope you enjoyed this super short and simple story of our Ikea Kitchen!

Ikea Kitchen
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busting the perfect motherhood myth
Perfect Motherhood Myth BUSTED

Whoa now hey now….what makes you think I have this mom thing and/or life thing figured out?? 🤣😅

Sometimes I receive messages from moms or teens from around the world that just lights up my soul. They are full of thank you’s and stories of how our family inspired them to produce less waste, shop sustainably or even give some plant-based recipes a try.

While these messages make me swoon over my followers and motivate me to carry on, I am also met with so many “perfect” comments that I just must address today.

“How do you make it look so easy!?” Or “How are you not losing your mind with two toddlers?” and even “Sometimes I feel so useless when I see women like you pulling it all off”. Ah. Ahhhh. My heart. I have failed you.

Let’s bust this Perfect Motherhood Myth once and for all!

busting the perfect motherhood myth

So….I have a new promise.

Not one of sustainability, zero waste or veganism…..this new promise is about checking in with reality.

Each week I am going to share 10 truths with you from my week: I hope this not only gives you a deeper insight into my reality, but also the realization that social media 100% NOT the full picture.

😍Here we goooooo!

1. I haven’t had a proper shower for longer than 4 minutes in over 10 days. Send help.
2. I gave my children 4 popsicles today to shut them up for just a few minutes so I could think straight.
3. Martin and I do not sleep in the same bed in the summer. I need a fan when I sleep and he gets sick instantly. Sorry, bro.
4. I keep vegan pizzas in my freezer for mom emergency situations and somehow that emergency situation happens every single week 😅
5. As soon as the boys turned 2, my sex drive went from 60 to 0 overnight.

busting the perfect motherhood myth

6. Sometimes, when the boys are being so insane and I have lost all hope of my parenting skills, I make them sit next to me while I read parenting books until we figure it out 🤣🤣🤣🤣.

7. Mom Facebook groups scare me.
8. I haven’t worked out in 3 weeks and I don’t feel bad at all.
9. I just found out that I over water my plants. 😭😭
10. Yesterday I ran out of clean cloth diapers so the boys went naked for 6 hours until they dried in the sun. 😆

So there you have it! Thursday Truths.

What are your truths?? How would you bust the perfect motherhood myth?

busting the perfect motherhood myth
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7 Ways Parents Can Save the Earth From Home
Raising Compassionate Kids: A Story Of Respect Between Children

I have a story for you all today. A story of respect, compassion and the hearts of children.

We were visiting our local farm not too long ago to hang out with some of our favorite beings 🐄🐖🐔🐓🐐🐑🦆🦃.

After about 2 hours or so, we headed to the far end where we saw two baby goats asleep on this bench behind me. I shrieked with excitement (baby goats people!) and slowly walked up to them with my sons at each side of my body.

They tiptoed with me and at the same time they both put their hands to their tiny mouths and said…

“Shhhhhhhh”.

I nodded and we sat next to the sleeping babes on the edge of the bench; just watching over their little bodies.

As per usual, my mind started to race. I began thinking of how people eat these little babies. How industries hurt, abuse and kill these beautiful little babies without a blink of an eye.

Alessandro and Leonardo must have felt my pain because at that moment, Leonardo rubbed my hand and Alessandro kissed me right on the lips.

I smiled a big smile and looked over at the sleeping beauties.

Alé jumped down from my lap and slowly walked up to them. He kissed them on the forehead.

Leo followed his big brother and kissed them as well. Leo’s kiss woke them up from their slumber and they just stared at my little babes.

Two humans and two baby goats….looking at eachother straight in the eye. No fear, no hate, no greed, no ulterior motives. Just 4 children….existing. Allowing eachother to just be.

Imagine a World where we just allowed beings to simply exist for no reason but the simple gift of existing. Of just being.

No exploitation. No money.

If we just let them BE.

P.s. Mama Goat was off to the side and came over once her babes were awake 💓. She was a fiesty and rather hungry one (reminded me of myself) 🤣

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the first time I met a turkey
The First Time I Met A Turkey: Go Vegan

I didn’t meet my first Turkey until I was 29 years old. Well….alive that is.

I had consumed these creatures for over 25 years without an ounce of awareness. I didn’t even know what they truly LOOKED like.

I assumed my mother’s Thanksgiving decorations were all I needed to know.

When I finally did get to properly meet one, I was with Martin and we were on a hike in the mountains. Halfway up, there was a little farm and I could hear pigs squealing and cows mooing so loudly that it actually shook me. I ran over to see what was going on and there was a group of Turkeys pissing off some cows. Not just any cows, but Mama cows who were just trying to feed their babes.

the first time I met a turkey

The turkeys were getting way too close (like dude, she will stomp on you!) and could care less. They wanted whatever was growing near this space.

I told Martin I had never really seen a turkey before and he laughed,

“They are funny things” and he walked over to them. I followed.

They came right up to me and allowed me to pet them and they purred! They were quite funny little things.  A very cute personality and hunger for all things plants, bugs, and berries.

We hung out with some the other day and this fella kept trying to steal the dandelions from between my toes.

feeding turkeys

I dig Turkeys. They don’t belong on our plates. They belong in the fields purring, pissing other creatures off, and living their best “quite funny” lives. Just like us.

P.s. Please be aware that male Turkeys like to impress their women by taking on other animals.

Like….”Look at me Sharon, I’m a sexy beast of a Turkey!”.

They have been known to chase after humans to show off. If you find yourself in this situation, the best advice I can give is to be as large and imposing as possible (but do no harm of course). This will usually make them move along. Just act like a bear. This rarely happens, but the last thing I need is a Wonder Mama being chased down by a big turkey.

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a child picks his mother a flower
A Child Picks His Mother A Flower

A child picks his mother a flower and hands it to her with a big smile. She looks into his eyes, then at the flower, and smells it. She smells it and giggles as she places it in her pocket because it is too precious a gift to be left behind.

When she gets home and peels those sweaty clothes off her tired body, she takes no notice of the wilted flower that has fallen to the ground from her pocket. This magical flower lies there and humbly awaits her attention.

Her children sleep at last, surrounding her with legs and arms as she slowly wiggles out so that she can have a much needed shower, reading time or maybe even a cup of chamomile tea. Her legs tread slow as the exhaustion settles into her body.

She picks up a pillow here, a toy car there and, without even realising she is doing it, begins to sweep the floor. These motions are like breathing to her now.

As she walks to the kitchen, she sees it. .
The flower from this morning. The gift from her child.

She picks it up and smells it again, but this time she takes a much deeper inhale. As her breath deepens, she is overcome with love and gratitude. How has the Universe been so kind to her? How innocent are these children she has… How sweet. How absolutely pure of heart to gift her such a flower?

The tea takes time to brew as the flower stays cuddled in her fingers. Every detail of this flower is now known to her.

As quick as she could muster her hands to move… She switches off the stove. Her tired feet take her back to the slumber of barefeet, tiny fingers and light breathing….

She cuddles right back into the embrace of what seems like a million years of love. Back into the little arms of her Universe.

a child picks his mother a flower

A child picks his mother a flower

p.s. If you enjoyed this, I highly recommend checking out our other stories:

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Woman in Lake
You Do Not Owe ANYTHING To Anyone

You do not owe anything to anyone.

You do not owe it to anyone to look pretty. To weigh some magical number on the scale. To shave your pits or pedicure your feet.

You do not owe it to anyone to dress in a certain way that appeases them. To stick a toxic tampon up your vagina or a toxic weightloss pill down your throat. You do not owe it to anyone to wear padding in your bra to make your breasts look bigger.

You do not owe it to anyone to dye your grey hairs or fill in those wrinkles.

You do not owe it to anyone to shave those legs. To wax those chin, eyebrow or upper lip hairs. To wear a thong, lace-trimmed panties or any underwear at all.

You do not owe it to anyone to be agreeable, sweet, a people pleaser, tidy, organized, a good cook, Martha Stewart, well mannered or upbeat.

You do not owe it to anyone to look, feel or be as anyone WISHES you to be.

You only owe one thing to one person: and that person is you. That one thing is honesty. You deserve to live and be as you wish to be. For yourself.

Hairy, bald, loud, quiet, extroverted, introverted, A cup, DD cup, fat, skinny, pretty, ugly, pedicured, hobbit footed, bloody, plugged, mustached, bearded…

It’s all good if YOU choose it.

My legs are not smooth, my wrinkles have and will be met with love and acceptance, my armpits are like a scruffy man’s beard, my grey hairs are my favorite thing about my wild mane, my feet haven’t been pedicured in 6 years, I absolutely suck at cleaning, bras have no place in my drawer, and yet….I have never felt so beautiful in my life.

Do others agree? Oh… absolutely NOT. The looks I get when people notice my leg hairs. It’s hysterical.

I once lived for others. I once did all of the things to appease everyone…even strangers. My life revolved around the acceptance of others. Not anymore.

I don’t want to be accepted. I don’t want to be put on a pedestal or called beautiful. I only want one thing…

To be honest in my relationship with myself. It’s a wild ride, I tell ya, and I am loving every minute.

p.s. if you dig these truths, check out some of our honest mom posts below:

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Our Love Story: From Tinder to Kinder

I knew a day would come where I would have to write our love story down for my children to laugh at…and I suppose tonight is as good a night as ever.

Martin just came home from work (It is 3 a.m. here in Italy) and we giggled a little about random things and then fed our twin boys together in order to get a good nights rest. (Him of course…I am more like a vampire these days).

As I was breastfeeding Leo…I looked over and saw Martin watching Ale with the most tender look in his eyes. He is so sweet and cautious with the boys. He has this innocence like a puppy dog finding a baby chick. What do I do? Is he OK? Can I lick him to feel better? It is touching. Read more

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My Twin Birth Story: Vegan Mama

 

Family with twin sons

 

Today we are chatting about my Twin Birth Story!

My angels were born on March 3rd, 2017 at 9:53 a.m. in Northern Italy…

My pregnancy was NOT like most! I spent most of my first and second trimester living in Paris, France finishing my study abroad year through my University in Hawaii. Believe me…I did NOT plan on being pregnant haha. Not only was my pregnancy a bit strange, but my twin birth story was a bit whacky as well! Read more

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