When it comes to learning how to become vegan
, one of the most delicate topics is parenthood. After all, it is a critical time in any mother's and family's lives, and all health care is in short supply. However, the good news is that pregnant women who follow a vegan diet do not face any additional risks. Long-term health benefits - and, of course, environmental benefits - of being vegetarian or vegan
are well-known. But what about during the nine months of gestation?
First and foremost, remember what the Portuguese Directorate-General for Health says about vegetarian food: "this eating pattern is appropriate for all stages of life" and "it can be adapted to all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, childhood, adolescence, the elderly, and even athletes", The Guidelines for a Healthy Vegetarian Diet
, a document from the Portuguese National Programme for Healthy Eating and the Directorate-General for Health, state, however, that the aforementioned "life cycles" imply good planning and monitoring - even more than for a normal adult.
After all, it's not just about going to a vegan restaurant occasionally. It's about adopting a lifestyle that includes significant lifestyle decisions beyond "simply" eating. There are times when extra caution is required, such as during pregnancy. But, before we get into the core of the matter, let's establish what it means to be a vegan and what it means to be a vegetarian. What is the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan diet
? What is it about vegan food
that is appealing to you? The vegetarian diet can be divided into four categories:
Vegan or strict vegetarian – does not consume any animal products. A vegan also does not use animal-derived items, like clothing and cosmetics;
Egg Lacto Vegetarian – does not consume meat or fish, but does consume eggs and dairy products;
Lacto Egg Vegetarian - does not eat meat, fish, and eggs but eats dairy products;
Egg vegetarian – Fish, meat, and dairy products are removed from the diet, but eggs are included;
Vegan food and pregnancy: most needed nutrients
According to the same source, pregnancy poses unique challenges to the body, so specific nutrients must be considered at this stage of life, including calories, protein, Omega-3, Vitamin B-12, folic acid, iron, iodine, and calcium. And now you’re asking, where can these nutrients be found in food?
Plant-based food sources (attention: not processed);
Pulses, whole grains, oily fruits, seeds, quinoa, etc.
Nuts and chia, flax, or hemp seeds;
Dark green foods and pulses, oranges, cereals, and fortified products (as well as extra supplementation to reach optimal values);
Pulses, whole grains, dark green vegetables, oily fruit, soy, and seeds. For better absorption, they should be combined with foods rich in vitamin C;
Supplementation or iodized salt to reach nutritional recommendations;
Dark green vegetables, legumes, and fortified products;
Several of these elements may be found in your favorite vegan restaurant in Lisbon's creations, menus, and meals - you know what we're talking about. However, in some cases, such as absorbing the right amount of Vitamin B12, this supply can and should be given through supplementation or fortified foods. That being said, if there are no risks, it's more important to focus on the benefits of being vegan during pregnancy:
- The intestine's function increases as a result of consuming more fiber and water;
- It helps prevent diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity;
As a result, associating the vegan diet with pregnancy risks is a myth that should be deconstructed. We must otherwise reaffirm the facts on the subject: it is unmistakable, as all scientific research shows, that being vegan helps anyone's life and health, regardless of where they are in their life cycle.