Vegan Meal Plan for Breastfeeding or Pregnant Women
With appropriate planning, a vegan diet is a healthy eating pattern that can meet your and your baby’s nutrient needs. When cutting out animal products, there are certain nutrient requirements that are more difficult to meet. Falling short of these nutrients may cause you to feel fatigued and weak, in addition to many other symptoms. If you are breastfeeding, meeting your needs is particularly important as your baby receives all her nutrients from your body.
Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamin D are all nutrients that could be lacking in a Vegan diet. Vegan food sources of these nutrients include:
- Protein: nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, tofu, seitan, tempeh, quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Flax oil and ground flax seeds, walnuts, soy, algae foods fortified with DHA.
- Iodine: Iodized salt and sea vegetables such as nori.
- Iron: Lentils, kidney beans, black beans, dark leafy greens, raisins, and fortified grains.
- Calcium: dark leafy greens, tofu, baked beans, almonds, sesame seeds, figs, fortified soymilk and almond milk.
- Zinc: Fortified grains, some veggie burgers, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, peanuts, tempeh, tofu, tahini.
- Vitamin D: Sunlight and fortified dairy alternatives.
Vegan diets do not provide sufficient vitamin B12; therefore, supplementation is usually recommended. Check with your healthcare professional.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
When pregnant and breastfeeding, the need for certain nutrients increases to support your health and your baby’s. If you are in either of these stages, here are other nutrients to be aware of in your diet:
- Folate: Lentils, pinto beans, asparagus, spinach, black beans, broccoli
- Vitamin B6: Sweet potato, white potato, sunflower seeds, spinach, banana
- Choline: Collard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, swiss chard, cauliflower, spinach
- Vitamin A (extra is needed when breastfeeding): Sweet potato, carrots, spinach, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, winter squash
Selecting meals and snacks from the below listed options (all vegan!) will help you meet your intake of important nutrients.
- Option 1: Quinoa drizzled with coconut milk, topped with chopped almonds and berries
- Option 2: Rolled oats made with fortified soy or almond milk, and mixed with walnuts and raisins
- Option 3: Smoothie made with fortified soy or almond milk, ground flax seeds, berries, spinach, nut butter, and Brewer’s Yeast
- Option 4: Avocado toast on whole grain bread with veggies and spices; piece of fruit; glass of plant-based milk
- Option 5: Amaranth topped with chia seeds and chopped figs
- Option 1: Quinoa mixed with shredded nori, sesame seeds, and black beans
- Option 2: Scrambled tofu with 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 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
- Option 2: Grilled tofu or tempeh with fresh veggies and Asian-style dressing and 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 black beans, quinoa, walnuts, chopped figs, and spinach
- Option 1: Fruit smoothie made with almond milk and added ground flax seeds
- Option 2: Trail mix: Raisins, figs, almonds, and walnuts
- Option 3: Carrots and hummus (made with tahini)
- Option 4: Corn and avocado salsa with kidney beans, and whole grain tortilla chips on the side
- Option 5: Chia seed pudding: fortified almond milk, chia seeds, vanilla, and berries
For more on this topic, check out the following articles: