The Top 8 Vegan Foods for Pregnancy

There are lists, and then there are pregnancy lists…from the baby names to the must-have gear, someone's made a list. And food is no exception. Except, well, it is if you're vegan. Despite the growing number of vegans in America, most of the pregnancy nutrition recommendations leave out this group. Lists of top foods to include read like a vegan's nightmare: milk, eggs, meat, fish.

Vegans and vegetarians have been successfully breeding for ages (ever heard of India?), proving you don't need animal products for a healthy pregnancy or healthy baby.

So what foods should vegans be eating during pregnancy? Here are the top eight:

  1. Hemp seeds: Protein, fiber, and fat. It's a perfect food for pregnant women (and everyone else). Hemp protein is easily digestible by the body (more so than meats), and there's a lot of it in that tiny seed. Just three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 10 grams of protein. For a vegan needing to meet 60 to 70 grams of protein a day, adding hemp seeds can be a huge help. Mix them into nondairy yogurt, cereal, or smoothies. Add them to every salad, sandwich, or even atop pasta, soups, stir fries. The mighty hemp seed is also loaded with fiber to help keep things moving along in the digestive tract, and they're an excellent source of healthy omega-fatty acids. These fats are really good for baby and momma, making hemp a must.
  2. Kale: Dark leafy greens contain vital amounts of nutrients for mom and baby. Loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, kale is also a rich source of calcium. It's full of antioxidants to boost momma's immune function and all that fiber is crucial for proper digestion and elimination. Constipation is a common occurrence in pregnancy. Kale can help.
  3. Beans: Whatever bean you fancy, you're getting protein, fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals. They cook up quick after soaking overnight and can go in anything. Try white beans with kale and brown rice pasta, pinto bean tacos, black bean soup, kidney bean salad. And remember about those healthy legumes, too. Split peas and lentils need no soaking and are just as versatile (and nutritious!) as beans.
  4. Avocadoes: Did you know one avocado contains about 3 grams of protein? We often think of it as such a creamy, fatty food, but the avo is loaded with good-for-you amino acids and protein. When counting protein, every bit helps! But the avocado also offers you healthy unsaturated fats, which keep you feeling energized, and it keeps that skin glowing (but you can tell everyone it's your pregnancy glow).
  5. Whole grains: Whole grains are full of fiber, vitamins, protein, and antioxidants. With gestational diabetes a risk during pregnancy, white flour is a no-no. Whole grain breads and whole grains with your beans, kale, hemp, and avocadoes can help keep you regular, energized, focused, and healthy.
  6. Coconut oil: Not only is this a healthy fat to cook with, but it's loaded with lauric acid, an important essential fatty acid not found in too many other foods. Lauric acid can help keep the immune system functioning properly, and for pregnant moms prone to fungal outbreaks like candida, it can aid in preventing it from occurring. Coconut oil is also an excellent external product for mommas. Use it on belly and breasts to keep stretch marks from settling in.
  7. Berries: While too much fruit can be as dangerous as too much sugar or white flour, berries are rather low on the glycemic index. They're chock-full of yummy goodness, too, with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Keep your fruit intake to fewer than 2 cups per day, and when possible, make it fresh, seasonal berries.
  8. Nuts: There is no greater on-the-go snack for a pregnant woman than nuts. They're easy, portable, and offer all those important needs: protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Stick with raw or dry-roasted nuts. Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are excellent choices. And they can be incorporated at meal times, too: nuts on salad. Make a walnut pesto. Add them to cereal. Make a nut-butter whole grain bread sandwich.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettingerLearn more about Jill Ettinger


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Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research.. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

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