HOW I HAD A VEGAN PREGNANCY
By Sarita Schina
"Are you sure that your baby will get the right nutrients if you are vegan?"
If I had a pound for each time that this question was posed during my pregnancy, I would surely be a millionaire by now. Honestly, I would!
VEGAN. There is something about that word that instills fear in some people.
Couple the words PREGNANT and VEGAN and you have a recipe for disaster according to some.
So is a vegan diet sustainable during pregnancy?
In my case I have found it to be so. The key really is research. As with most things in life, research is essential to make certain that you are making the best choices.
I became vegan initially for health reasons and so I did extensive research beforehand to ensure that I was well informed before I began. I looked into macro and micro nutrients, raw diets and alkaline vegan diets and eventually concluded that I wanted to focus on a high plant based vegan diet, minimising the amount of soy, fake meats and processed vegan fare to ensure a healthy balanced diet.
When I fell pregnant I decided that in spite of what I considered to be a healthy plant based vegan diet, it would be advantageous to baby and I to receive additional nutrients.
Research led me to take bio available supplements and herbal teas to make sure that baby and I were well nourished. I took two sachets of Spatone liquid iron and three Garden of Life prenatal multivitamin tablets each day.
In the beginning I used to fall foul of explaining to every woman and her dog that eating a plant based diet is not detrimental to baby and I and that we were getting enough protein and vitamins. Eventually I was so exhausted from explaining to everyone that I would just say "Thanks for your concern but my midwife is happy with how my pregnancy is progressing."
That kept their tongues from wagging and helped me to keep my sanity.
I realise though that many questions about vegan diets during pregnancy stem from sheer ignorance about what vegans eat. I thought that it was ludicrous to believe that a vegan diet could in anyway harm a foetus because consuming more fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains and pseudo grains are exactly what is recommended by medics and health practitioners: naturally these benefits cannot be gleaned from a high meat or animal product intake.
However it is important to note that a diet of chips, bread and fizzy drinks constitute a vegan diet and yet that would hardly be advantageous to a pregnant mum or her baby.
The book Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melinda MS, RD sums it up beautifully when it says" vegan diets can support healthy pregnancies as long as moms ensure they're getting enough calories and nutrients, as is the case for anyone on any diet."
In my case I ate a balanced plant based vegan diet before during and after my pregnancy. I even gave into my cravings during pregnancy (sparkling water with fresh lemon and sourdough pizza) and upped my intake of millet, brown, red and black rice, wild rice, quinoa, spelt, einkhorn and kamut grains.
The result: baby and I both thrived. I had a healthy pregnancy with no morning sickness, boundless energy, no back pain or complications.
Would I recommend eating a plant based vegan diet during pregnancy? Absolutely! But as with all things, the choice is ultimately your own.