Food for pregnant women. Pregnancy and vegetarianism.

Erin PavlinaPresident of, the largest Internet-sourse for parents-vegetarians, Los-Angeles, California, USA

Taking into account a great interest of our society to vegetarianism and the fact that accoucheurs-gynaecologists that work with our magazine quite often deal with women-vegetarians, which don’t want to quit their diet at all even during bearing and nursing a baby, we offer here two articles that support opposite points of view on the problem of vegetarianism during pregnancy. We won’t go too deep  and discuss arguments of both sides. We’ll pay your attention only on the fact that from biological point of view, a man is an omnivorous creature (this fact is confirmed by peculiarities of structure and functioning of digestive tract, for example, structure of teeth – there’re canine teeth among them, which are obviously necessary to deal with animal food), and also on the fact that a man’s ration is significantly determined by a place of his living. Compare Californian climate (an author of the first article lives there – a strict vegetarian), where it’s almost always warm, with moderate climate of Russia, with its severe winters, when one needs quite a lot of energy (and it’s easier to receive it from animal food) to keep body temperature.


In 1997 I changed my diet radically. Firstly, I quit eating meat at all – I became a vegetarian. In 9 months I switched to a category of “vegans”, i.e. I exluded all products of animal origin, including milk and dairy produce (cheese, butter etc.), eggs and honey from my ration. Now my diet consists only of fruits, vegetables, nuts, cereals and bobs. Why did I started all this? Because I wanted to be as healthy, as possible. I learned this question, read a lot of literature on this subject and understood that there’re millions of people in the world that keep to a vegetarian diet. They’re healthy, live longer, than those eating meat and dairy produce, and their children – are the strongest and healthiest children on our planet. Vegans have much lesser chances to have cancer diseases, heart attacks and strokes and quite seldom suffer from diabetes and asthma.

Is it safely to remain a vegan during pregnancy? Is it safely to nurse a baby, keeping to a strict vegetarian diet? And is it possible to make a vegan of a child, without a threat to his health? Yes. When I got pregnant (almost 3 years ago), many people were interested whether I would remain a vegan. I started my “private investigation” by myself again. I read books about women, remained vegans during pregnancy and feeding their babies according to the same diet. I didn’t quite understood a lot of things, - I’m sure, you too. I’ll try to answer most popular questions, concerning pregnancy, breast nursing and following feeding of a child according to a strict vegetarian diet.

What should we eat during pregnancy?

During pregnancy it’s very important to observe a correct diet – a correct development of fetus depends on it. Pregnant vegetarians (vegans) have great advantage: their diet is excessively rich in all vitamins and mineral salts that are necessary to a baby. If you eat 5 fruit dishes for breakfast and 5 vegetable dishes for lunch – just try NOT to receive lots of vitamins! It’s very important to vary your ration during pregnancy, to provide organism with adequate quantity and assortment of vitamins and mineral salts. Below you can see several variants of daily ration, providing all nutrients a pregnant woman needs. By the way, non-vegetarians will also find offered dishes useful.


Pancakes of pollard with maple syrup
Fruit puree
Porridge of bran cereal, soyamilk
Oatflakess with apples and cinnamon
Toasts of wheat bread with brans and fruit jam
Fluffed up tofu with onion and red and green pepper


Salad of vegetables and lettuse with flavour of vegetable oil
Vegetarian sandwich of bran bread: avocado, lettuce, tomatoes and onion
Bolied potato with brokkoly cabbage and soy-bean sour cream
Sandwich “falafel” with takhyn and cucumbers
Soup of ground peas


Macaroni of wheatflour branny, flavoured by sauce of marynara
Baked batata
Vegetarian pizza without cheese
Vegetarian roast of brown rice and tofu
Potato- lentil roast
Baked bobs with barbekyu sauce
Lasagna of spinach


Pop-korn with dietary yeasts
Dried fruits
Candied fruits

Any food contains proteins. If you eat enough quantity of calories with various healthy food every day, you can be assured that your organism receives necessary quantity of proteins. And those who still doubt it, can eat more nuts and bobs. If you receive proteins only from vegetable sources, your food doesn’t contain kholesterol – a substance, causing embolism. Don’t starve yourself – and you’ll receive enough proteins bot for you and your baby.


Many people, including many doctors, consider that one should drink milk to provide his organism with calcium. Such leafvegetables, like brokkoli and garden cabbage, contain much calcium. Nuts, tofu, juices with calcium additions can also serve as source of calcium. It’s useful to add molasses with rum and seeds of sesame in your food to enrich your ration.

Threat of asiderotic anemia

Another popular myth. Well-balanced various vegetarian diet will, undoubtedly, provide necessary amount of iron both for your and your baby’s organisms. If you cook in cast-iron frying pans, food absorbs necessary quantity of iron. Eating of citrus and other products with higher content of vitamin C together with food, rich in iron, also intensifies absorption of iron. Excellent sources of iron are – prune decoction, bobs, spinach, molasses with rum, pea, raisin, tofu, germinated wheat, wheat brans, strawberry, potato and oat.

Do we need to take vitamins?

If you planned your diet well and have a pissibility to buy high-quality products, you don’t need any special vitaminous complexes for pregnant. The only vitamin vegetarian food lacks is – B12. If you don’t buy special products rich in B12, you should take it as vitamins additions for sure. As for me, I didn’t take any vitamins during pregnancy. My doctor prescribed me to pass blood tests periodically, to check content of folacin, vitamin B12 and other nutrients, and my indexes never fell below the line. Still, if you are not sure that your daily necessity in vitamins is satisfied enough, you can start taking vitaminous complexes for pregnant.

Does observation of vegetarian diet allow to gain enough weight during pregnancy?

The essence of vegetarianism is not in restriction of calories you eat, but in a correct selection of healthy food. Provide your organism with enough amount of calories, vary your ration to the maximum – and your weight will be ok. As for me, I gained about 10 kg during pregnancy, and I ate quite moderately! Try to avoid food rich in “empty” calories, like cakes and bakes. Eat as much fruits and vegetables as you can! If you can cope with 10 dishes a day – it’s ok!

Breast feeding

I nursed my daughter till she was 7 months old. All this time, I ate little more, like any nursing mother, however, I never changed my usual diet. When my daughter was born, her weight was 3, 250 kg, and then she gained weight very well. Moreover, I know several women-vegetarians who nursed their babies much longer, than I did, and their babies also gained weight easily.  Breast milk of a nursing mother-vegetarian doesn’t contain many toxins and pesticides that are present in a milk of a woman who eats meat. This gives a baby-vegetarian good starting positions, providing him with high chances of good health for nearest and farer future.

Will a baby grow active and healthy?

Beyond all doubts. Children, growing on vegetarian diet, eat much more fruits and vegetables, than their coevals, whose ration includes animal food. Children-vegetarians fall sick and suffer from food allergy less often. When you start supplementary feeding, include fruit and vegetable purees in a baby’s ration. As your baby grows, you’ll be able to begin giving him food from “adult” vegetarian table. Here’re several dishes, your baby will definitely like, when he grows a little:

peanut butter and sandwiches with jelly;
fruits and fruit cocktails;
oatflakes with apples and cinnamon;
spagetty with tomato sauce;
apple sauce;
brokkoly cabbage, cooked in stove;
baked potato;
soy-bean chops with any garnishes;
waffles, pancakes and French toasts with maple syrup;
pancakes with bow whortleberry;
… and many other!

In conclusion

Growing a child-vegetarian, like any other child, - is a keen, thankful and heavy work. But vegetarian diet will provide a good start on life distance for him. I don’t repent my decision at all. My daughter is healthy and happy… isn’t it the most cherished wish of every mother?


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