No matter if you're a vegetarian, vegan or macrobiotic, it’s important to be aware of your diet during pregnancy. If you think you aren't getting enough protein (the building block for baby’s cells), be sure to talk to your doctor. Otherwise, don’t stress about it too much. As long as you maintain a balanced diet and keep track of what you eat, your baby should be just as healthy as one born from a mom who ate meat during her pregnancy.
So how can vegetarians get enough protein? Many foods besides meat are rich in protein, including eggs, soy burgers, tofu, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas), whole grains (eat with legumes for a complete protein), nuts and seeds, milk, soy milk, cheese, fruits and vegetables, fermented soy foods, tofu and peanut butter (try a spoonful straight from the jar).
Now that we’ve got protein covered, it’s also important to eat certain foods or take prenatal vitamins to get other nutrients found in meats:
- Vitamin B12 is found in eggs, fortified yeast extract and dairy products.
- Zinc is found in wheat, oats, rice, barley and rye.
- Iron is found in whole grains, legumes, green veggies and dried fruits.
- Omega-3 fatty acid is found in flax seed and walnuts.
- Vitamin D and calcium are found in green vegetables, almonds, milk, tofu, cheese, yogurt, whole-grain cereals and legumes.
Even if you can’t stand the taste of soy milk or whole grains, keep in mind that eating healthy is essential for baby’s growth. You can always end your not-so-tasty balanced meal with a delicious desert because, well, you deserve it.