Vegan Meal Plan for during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
With appropriate planning, a vegan diet can be a healthy eating pattern that is able to meet your and your baby’s nutrient needs.1
Being vegan means avoiding all animal products and byproducts, including meat, poultry, dairy, fish, eggs, and honey.11 When eliminating these foods, getting enough of certain nutrients becomes more challenging. And unfortunately, falling short of these vitamins and minerals may not only cause symptoms such as fatigue and weakness for you, but may also make it more difficult for your baby to get the nutrition they need for growth and development.14
While you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding, meeting your nutrition needs is particularly important as your baby receives all their nutrients from your body.
Read about: Vegan Diet During Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and for the Family
What nutrients are more difficult to get while eating a vegan diet?
Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and B12 are all nutrients that could be lacking in a vegan diet.12
Vegan food sources of these nutrients include:
Protein: Nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, tofu, seitan, tempeh, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, whole grains, and soymilk.3
Omega-3 fatty acids: Flax oil and ground flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil, soybean oil, algae foods fortified with DHA.5
Iron: Fortified breakfast cereals, lentils, tofu, kidney beans, chickpeas, dark leafy greens, spinach, raisins, and fortified grains.7
Calcium: Fortified plant-based milk alternatives, Tofu made with calcium sulfate, fortified breakfast cereals, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, chia seeds, pinto beans, broccoli, and figs.8
Zinc: Fortified breakfast cereals, baked beans, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas, oatmeal, almonds, kidney beans, green peas.9
Vitamin D: Sunlight and fortified plant-based milk alternatives.10
B12: Fortified plant-based milk alternatives, fortified plant-based meat alternatives, fortified nutritional yeast.6
It’s important to note that even with a keen eye on keeping B12 fortified foods in your weekly food rotation, most vegan diets do not have enough of this vitamin. For this reason, supplementation is usually recommended. Check with your healthcare professional to see if you or your baby needs a supplement.
Read more: What Should I Know about Iron Deficiency Anemia During Pregnancy?
What nutrients are important during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
When pregnant and breastfeeding, the need for certain nutrients increases to support your and your baby’s health. Many of these important nutrients are already listed above, but others to be aware of include folate, choline, vitamin A, and iodine.412
Vegan food sources of these nutrients include:
Folate: Black-eyed peas, fortified breakfast cereals and breads, white rice, asparagus, brussels sprouts, enriched spaghetti, avocado, spinach, broccoli, kidney beans.13
Choline: Soybeans, potatoes, wheat germ, kidney beans, quinoa, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, shiitake mushrooms, peanuts, cauliflower, sunflower seeds, brown rice.14
Vitamin A: Sweet potato, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe, sweet red peppers, mango, fortified breakfast cereal, black-eyed peas, dried apricots, broccoli.15
Iodine: Iodized salt, fortified bread, dried seaweed (nori), seafood, and low-fat dairy.16
Which Nutrients do I Need During Pregnancy?
What to Eat while Breastfeeding?
Vegan Meal Plan, recipes ideas, and snacks for during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Choosing meals and snacks from the options listed below will help you consume the nutrients needed for optimal health while following a vegan diet. It will also help you consume nutrients needed for growth and development of your baby.
When making the below meal ideas, use vegetables listed above to help include important nutrients in your vegan diet.
Option 1: Quinoa drizzled with coconutmilk, topped with chopped almonds and berries
Option 2: Rolled oats made with fortified plant-based milk alternative, and mixed with walnuts and raisins
Option 3: Smoothie made with fortified plant-based milk alternative, ground flax seeds, berries, spinach, nut butter, and fortified Brewer’s Yeast
Option 4: Avocado toast on whole grain bread with veggies, pumpkin seeds, and spices; piece of fruit; glass of plant-based milk alternative.
Option 5: Cooked amaranth topped with chia seeds, chopped figs, and a sprinkle or cinnamon
Option 1: Quinoa mixed with shredded nori, sesame seeds, and beans
Option 2: Scrambled tofu with fortified brewer’s yeast, salsa (or other seasoning), and chopped kale and bell pepper. Serve over bed of brown rice.
Option 3: Pilaf with lentils and grain of choice (bulgur, quinoa, farro, etc.) with roasted squash
Option 4: Baked falafel with roasted sweet potato wedges, and a side salad
Option 5: Veggie burger on whole grain bun; baby kale salad with chopped figs
Option 1: Quinoa or bean-based pasta, spaghetti sauce with chopped seitan, sautéed kale with garlic
Option 2: Grilled tofu or tempeh with fresh veggies and Asian-style dressing over brown rice
Option 3: Spicy sautéed tofu and veggies over buckwheat noodles
Option 4: Baked seasoned tofu, buckwheat, and roasted vegetables
Option 5: Acorn squash stuffed and baked with beans, quinoa, walnuts, chopped figs, and spinach
Option 1: Fruit and veggie smoothie made with plant-based milk alternative, frozen berries, fresh baby spinach, nut butter and ground flax seeds or hemp hearts
Option 2: Trail mix: Raisins, figs, almonds, and walnuts
Option 3: Carrots and hummus (made with tahini), side of roasted seaweed (nori)
Option 4: Corn and avocado salsa with kidney beans, and whole grain tortilla chips on the side
Option 5: Chia seed pudding: fortified plant-based milk alternative, chia seeds, vanilla, and berries
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET).Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content!
For more on this topic, check out the following articles:
Why Does B12 Matter for Babies, Tots, and Mama?
Why Does Folate Matter for Babies, Tots, and Mama?
Why Does Vitamin A Matter for Babies, Tots, and Mama?
Why Does Choline Matter for Babies, Tots, and Mama?
Why Does Vitamin D Matter for Babies, Tots, and Mama?
Why Does Calcium Matter for Babies, Tots, and Mama?
Why Does Iodine Matter for Babies, Tots, and Mama?
Healthy Snack Ideas for Postpartum Women
Our meal plans offer recipe and meal suggestions. They are not designed to replace your doctor’s recommendations, nor do they take into account special nutritional needs, including allergies and intolerances. The meal plans suggest serving sizes that may or may not be appropriate for you. Please consult your doctor to determine what is best for you and your child.