Is It Safe To Be Vegetarian While Pregnant?

Is It Safe To Be Vegetarian While Pregnant?

Becoming a vegetarian during pregnancy does require special attention. The reason is, pregnant women and the fetus in the womb need a complete nutritional intake to stay healthy. Nutrients that need to be obtained from various types of food, including animal foods.

Women who are pregnant are recommended to consume many nutrients, including protein, folate, iron, calcium, and various types of vitamins.

Some nutrients are contained in fruits and vegetables, but others are mostly contained in animal foods, which are limited or not consumed by a vegetarian at all.

Facts about Being Vegetarian while Pregnant

Becoming a vegetarian during pregnancy is actually possible, but must be under full supervision by a doctor. The reason is, there are nutrients for pregnant women that are more commonly found in animal foods, such as beef, eggs, and fish.

Limiting or not eating animal foods at all can increase the risk of pregnant women and fetuses experiencing nutritional deficiencies.

One of the many nutrients contained in animal foods is vitamin B12 and folate. These nutrients play a major role in the development of the fetal nervous system. So when pregnant women are deficient in vitamin B12 and folate, their babies are at risk for neural tube defects.

In addition to vitamin B12, beef and fish are sources of protein and vitamin D. Vitamin D has various benefits for the body, especially for maintaining bone health and endurance. While protein, is important to help the formation of body tissues. If this nutrient deficiency, pregnant women are at risk of developing preeclampsia.

Not only that, animal foods are foods rich in iron. Iron deficiency will increase the risk of pregnant women experiencing anemia. If it persists and is severe, anemia can lead to premature birth, low birth weight babies, or developmental problems.

Preventing Nutritional Deficiency

Actually there are several fruits, vegetables, and foods made from plants that contain the nutrients above. However, the levels of nutrients in these foods tend to be less than the levels in animal food sources.

If you do not eat a balanced nutritious diet, it is feared that the nutritional needs of pregnant women will not be fulfilled properly. For pregnant women who are vegetarian, try to meet the following nutritional intake:

Iron and folate

In meeting the needs of iron and folate, pregnant women can eat green vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, whole wheat bread, iron-fortified cereals, or eggs (if pregnant women are vegetarian types who still eat them).


Although the largest source of protein is animal food, a high enough protein intake can also be obtained from plant foods. Good sources of vegetable protein for vegetarian pregnant women are nuts, such as soybeans. Vegetables and fruits also contain protein, but generally not in high levels.

For vegetarian pregnant women who still consume animal food products other than meat, protein can be obtained by consuming milk, cheese, and eggs.

Vitamin B12

If pregnant women still consume foods that are products from animals, such as milk, cheese and eggs, increase this intake to meet the needs of vitamin B12. In addition, pregnant women can also consume soy milk and cereals that have been added with vitamin B12.

Vitamin D and calcium

Vitamin D that can be formed by the body with the help of sunlight can also be found in cheese, egg yolks, mushrooms, and food products that have been added to this vitamin, such as cereals, fruit juices, nuts, and soy milk. These types of foods also generally contain high enough calcium.

However, before deciding to stick to a vegetarian diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding, pregnant women should first discuss with their doctor. Especially if pregnant women are vegetarian types who do not consume products from animals, such as eggs and milk. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe pregnancy supplements that contain additional nutrients.