Updated: Jun 28, 2022
Plant-based diets are highly misunderstood and many people still cite outdated studies to support their disapproval of this dietary pattern. Even if the position paper on vegetarian diets from the Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics clearly states: « Well-planned vegan, lactovegetarian, and lacto-ovo vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy and lactation », many still fear pregnancy on a plant-based diet. Although some nutrients do require special attention in those who are pregnant on a plant-based diet, most of them can be easily obtained in optimal amounts with careful planning.
Well planned plant-based diets are associated with lower and healthier BMI’s, a reduced risk of chronic disease, auto-immunity and cancer, and healthier moms tend to have healthier pregnancies. Studies have shown that well-planned plant-based diets were associated with less preeclampsia, less gestational diabetes and birthweights identical to those born to non-vegan mothers. Plant-based diets can make for healthy mothers before, during and after pregnancy, even helping them reach their healthy pre-pregnancy weight safely and gradually. Although plant-based diets are naturally nutrient dense and protective in this way, certain nutrients can be a concern, due to their increased requirements during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the health of the baby and mother is always the priority, but that doesn’t mean we disregard the other benefits of eating a plant-based diets, which also decreases carbon footprints and animal cruelty. It’s like having vegan cake and eating it too!
Plant-predominant diets during pregnancy could also help protect against a variety of paediatric diseases, including wheezing, diabetes, neural tube defects, orofacial clefts, and certain pediatric tumors