Vegetarian and special diets in pregnancy

If you have a varied and balanced vegetarian diet that includes all the food groups, you should have all the nutrients you and your baby need during your pregnancy.

It is important that you include good sources of iron and zinc every day and don’t always replace meat and fish with cheese.

Vegetarian and vegan diets

Eggs, peas, beans and lentils, soya foods such as tofu, quorn, nuts and seeds are all good choices as meat replacements.  If you are a vegan (which means cutting out all animal products from your diet), it is perfectly possible for you and your baby to be healthy but you do need to plan your diet carefully to make sure you get enough vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2), iron, zinc, calcium and iodine – all nutrients that may be harder to get if you don’t have animal or dairy products.

Your midwife or doctor may suggest that you see a dietitian to help make sure you’re getting everything you and your baby needs.

Aim to eat at least four portions of calcium-rich foods every day. These include calcium-fortified soya milk or another calcium fortified milk alternative, tofu, dark green vegetables (such as broccoli, spinach and kale), dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

To get enough vitamin D, use vitamin D-enriched soya milk or margarine and take a vitamin D supplement that's suitable for vegans in pregnancy. You are likely to need a supplement containing vitamin B12 and iodine.

Good protein sources for vegans include soya products, beans, nuts, seeds and grains. It can be useful to include fortified foods in your diet, such as mineral and vitamin-enriched soya milk or other milk alternatives and cereals

Read more: www.vegsoc.org and www.vegansociety.com

Special diets

You may have a special diet – for example you could:

  • have to avoid certain foods because you have coeliac disease
  • have an allergy that means you can’t eat certain foods or groups of foods
  • have a medical condition that limits your food choices.

Ask to be referred to a dietitian for advice on how to make sure you're getting everything you and your baby need during pregnancy. If you are diabetic your healthcare team will help you manage your eating during pregnancy.

Download Your guide to a healthy diet in pregnancy here.

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Last reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.

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