HOW TO HAVE A HEALTHY VEGAN PREGNANCY/LIFE
Ahhhh! I’m so excited you’re interested in reading this, so thank you for being here. I’m going to share tips + tricks on how to have a healthy vegan pregnancy (or even just life!) based on my personal experience but my advice will always circle back to speaking and working with a qualified health professional. My personal favourites are a registered dietician and a medical doctor who supports your decision to be vegan. (I’ll preface this whole post by saying I didn’t sleep well last night (a story for another day), my head is pounding and I feel under the weather so please excuse my writing as I will not proof read).
Now, every single pregnancy is very different and sometimes what we want and expect for a pregnancy is out of our control. With Harlow I was quite sick and experienced food aversions but with Arrow I was so sick well into the third trimester and wasn’t able to stomach vegetables or any healthy foods for most of my pregnancy. The doctor assured me my baby would get everything it needed from me so I definitely had to learn to relax and trust my body and the process. This baby I am currently pregnant with I would say has been my easier pregnancy so far (minus the complete placenta previa) but I have been loving veggies in the second trimester and have been able to eat my normal foods for the most part. In the first trimester I was sick and wasn’t able to stomach a lot of things but the nausea and vomiting was short lived and the aversions subsided quite quickly into the second trimester.
Here are some tips from my personal experience that have supported three healthy vegan pregnancy.
#1. Work with a health care professional always. A registered dietician who is knowledgable in a plant based diet is obviously beneficial. My doctor isn’t vegan but is knowledgable in plant based eating and has been extremely supportive of my lifestyle. Your health care team doesn’t have to live the same life is you they just have to know how to support you in doing it properly.
#2. Try not to stress about all the things (protein etc). Eat a well balanced diet if you can and focus on healthy whole foods for the most part. Make sure every meal has veggies, proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates. This is where a RD can be extremely supportive in helping you know what our bodies need. Keep space for “processed and junk” because balance has always worked well for me in the past but if you are eating from each food group then your body will be getting what it needs. I highly recommend Canada’s Food Guide to help support you on what our bodies need and they support plant based lifestyles. I like using the peacounter site to see just how much protein my kids are getting in a day (I just like to be aware of all the things).
#3. Take a prenatal vitamin. This has been extremely beneficial for myself especially in the first trimester when I live off of french fries and butter on toast. Most health care providers are going to recommend this to ensure the baby is getting what it needs regardless of what you are eating. We also ensure we are getting iodine and B12. We like to use a B12 and also focus on eating foods fortified with it (nutritional yeast, fortified plant milks and yogurts).
#4. If you’re used to exercising–keep doing it! Unless you have a complete placenta previa of course, then listen to what your medical team says. Exercise is always a good idea for your body and mental health well being.
#5. Educate yourself. I get asked every single day for support because a lot of pregnant women can’t stomach meat or dairy or eggs when pregnant. I unfortunately cannot give medical or diet advice since I am not qualified in the area (a nutrition class in the course of my Bachelor of Nursing degree doesn’t cut it unfortunately). But find people qualified in the area and reach out to them for support. Your community should be able to connect you with someone who can support you and most health care providers have some background in vegetarian/vegan diets because a lot of cultures/religions follow this lifestyle. Two of my favourites online (one who is vegan and one who is not but supports plant based living a lot) are Desiree Nielsen (RD) and Fraiche Living who is a Nutritionist. I also love following The Doctor’s Kitchen (he is a medical doctor) and though he isn’t entirely vegan (I don’t think!) he really focuses on health and diet and the connection. I love how he highlights how plants can support health and encourages using food as medicine (within reason friends!). Another person who is trained in the area who I absolutely love following is Plant Proof. Simon has a Masters in Nutrition and he is really, really, really smart and just brings so much attention to things that need to be talked about and helps support hundreds of thousands of people better understand WHY it can be so beneficial to live this way. Also, The Plant Based MD I haven’t been following her for long but so far, I like what I see.
#6. Be so educated in your decision and you’re why that you are confident to live this way properly. Like any diet or lifestyle being vegan can also be unhealthy. We now have access to fast food burgers, and soooo many processed vegan things (WHICH ISN’T HORRIBLE) but just because it is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Be mindful. Balance. Don’t stress. Eat lots of protein rich foods, remember carbs are our friend and get in lots of veggies and fruits and whole grains. Use Pinterest. Find easy recipes you’ll actually make
#7. Create a community online of people who are doing it and have been doing it for a while. I follow so many vegans who I absolutely love and look up to. It is a sense of connection that is hard to put into words but sometimes it is surreal to have other people see the world the way you do, who want to raise their babies in the same way you are doing and who have reduced a lot of harm when it comes to the well being of animals. I rarely discuss the animal part of it because I find I am better able to connect to people through my way of life but honestly, the animal part just gets me. As soon as I became a mother it became even more evident how much I wanted to continue to live this way and to do it properly. I will never once in my life judge another human being for not seeing the world the way I do or for eating animals. Once upon a time, I did too. I want to make a list of people I love following who are vegan but I’m so afraid to leave someone out but you can see who I follow on TKP and get an idea of who is vegan etc.
I’ll make a short list. Please forgive me if I love you and forget you this is why I hate making lists.
The Doctor’s Kitchen
Easy Animal Free
The Buddhist Chef
Rabbit And Wolves
It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken
Hot For Food
Desiree Neilsen RD
Live Kindly co.
The Cake Mama
Life With Zandra
Living In Color Blog
Plant Based Blonde
Cruelty Free With Me
Best of Vegan
Oh She Glows
A Pinch of Plants
Food By Maria
Minimalist Baker (not fully vegan but lots of Plant Based)
Vegan Living YYC
#8. Make and stick to foods you can eat and will make. Some recipes are so annoyingly difficult I skip them all together. Use Pinterest, get ideas and be creative. Quinoa bowls are amazing, pastas, soups, dishes you’re already eating. Find substitutes for what you love. Keep it simple. I have a whole post on vegan cookbooks I recommend and it’s mostly because a lot of the recipes are easy to follow or can be modified for what you have etc. You can find that here or find me on Pinterest where you can see all the things I pin.
#9. Find me on The Kindest Plate! If you aren’t following already make sure to follow me there because I literally hate cooking and yet I feel like I do it all day sometimes. Easy, simple vegan recipes. My Pinterest is also here.
I appreciate and respect the love and support that has been reciprocated. We are all going to live and do life differently and if at the end of the day you choose to reduce your animal product consumption, I will forever be grateful for that. Thank you for being part of this community, constantly supporting and encouraging all the things that I am doing. SO much love.