Are Vegan Diets Safe For Pregnancy?

As a newly pregnant woman, I was given scant advice about diet and nutrition. Mostly, it was about what not to do: no smoking, no drinking alcohol, no caffeine. That was thirty years ago.

Today, mothers-to-be are deluged with recommendations, but they may still wonder: is it safe to continue my vegan diet during pregnancy? Is a vegan diet good for my baby?

These are questions that Tania Lombrozo, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, has been exploring. As a vegan mom herself, she knows that a vegan pregnancy is just fine. As she says on NPR, “Having a nutritious diet matters (whether or not you’re pregnant), but that can come in many forms. There are more and less healthful ways to be vegan, just as there are more and less healthful ways to eat a diet that includes meat or fish.”

But she was seeking confirmation of this from objective research and found a report released earlier this year in BJOG, An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, that analyzed 262 studies available on the topic of vegan-vegetarian diets in pregnancy. 

Is It Safe To Follow A Vegan-Vegetarian Diet In Pregnancy?

The researchers for this report found no increase of severe problems in pregnant women pursuing this diet. Beyond this, evidence was inconclusive, with some studies reporting lower birthweight babies, and others reporting higher birthweight babies. The length of pregnancy also did not vary between vegan–vegetarians and omnivores. 

Finally, the review found little evidence that following a vegan or vegetarian diet either reduces or increases the risk of what they call “severe, adverse pregnancy-related events,” such as pre-eclampsia or major birth defects, provided B12 and iron levels are adequate.

Here are the authors’ conclusions:

“The evidence on vegan–vegetarian diets in pregnancy is heterogeneous and scant. The lack of randomised studies prevents us from distinguishing the effects of diet from confounding factors. Within these limits, vegan–vegetarian diets may be considered safe in pregnancy, provided that attention is paid to vitamin and trace element requirements.

Being pregnant is not a valid reason to abandon your vegan or vegetarian diet: just be sure to get enough iron and vitamin B12.

Celebrity Vegan And Vegetarian Moms

Plenty of celebrities are proud of their vegan or vegetarian diets during pregnancy.

Clueless star Alicia Silverstone became a vegan more than 16 years ago, and stayed vegan during her first pregnancy (with son Bear, now three). According to Silverstone, her preschooler is also proud to be a vegan just like his mom.

“I think the diet’s influence is pretty evident in that he is full of vibrant energy; he’s so smart, creative, and insanely sweet — like a magical little elf,” said Silverstone. “It’s so important to me that his body be as healthy as possible so he can enjoy every minute of his life and not be bogged down by ailments. I’m so proud to say this is how his life is now, and I’ve made it my job to keep it that way.”

Other celebrity moms who’ve followed this path include Bones’ actress Emily Deschanel, The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Balik, Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, and Grammy Award winner Carrie Underwood.

Being pregnant is a wondrous, beautiful experience for most women, who want to do all they can to nurture the new life growing within them.

The evidence is clear that pregnancy is no reason to reconsider a vegan or vegetarian diet. Indeed, many of us have chosen these diets because they are healthier for us, so why would they not be healthier for our baby?

Maybe the question should be, “Are omnivore diets safe for pregnant moms?”

 

 

117 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

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Nicole Bergeron
Nicole Bergeronabout a year ago

when done properly, like any diet, it can be safe. The unsafest part of any diet (omnivore, or herbivore) is not getting enough nutrition during pregnancy, because one is now eating for two (or more if multiples).

Plenty of doctors (at least in my area) are more then willing to help a mother, no matter her diet, make sure she is getting enough from her diet for her and her unborn. They request that during the pregnancy, an expecting mother keeps a journal of foods she eats so they, the doctors, know what needs to be modified if tests come back off.

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Jenny B.
Jenny B1 years ago

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Max Leung
Max Leung1 years ago

thx

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Max Leung
Max Leung1 years ago

thx

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