The Best Pregnancy Vegan Meal PlanMay 16, 2022
As veganism is becoming a popular lifestyle choice for many more people. plant based eating has been getting a lot of attention lately.
In its essence considering yourself vegan encompasses much more than your diet alone, and pregnancy often brings up lots of questions specific to vegans.
By far the most common question vegans ask during their pregnancies is 'Is my baby getting everything they need?'.
The answer: Yes, a well planned vegan diet is suitable for all stages of life including pregnancy and breastfeeding (British Dietetic Association, 2017).
Like any other way of eating, a vegan diet comes with advantages and disadvantages.
An obvious advantage is that vegan diets are potentially very high in vegetables, pulses, grains and fruit and therefore a vegan pregnancy can be highly nutritional and beneficial for both mother and baby.
On the flip side, a 'modern' vegan diet can also contain heaps of highly processed foods.
The messaging from the food industry is somewhat misleading in that we are led to believe that 'vegan' automatically equals 'healthy' and that is simply not the case. Like any other diet high in processed foods, a vegan diet has the potential to be just as unhealthy.
So here is my first tip when it comes to eating vegan for two: check the amount of different ingredients on the package, the more ingredients, the more processing. Typical culprits are packaged vegan 'meats' like burgers, sausages, etc. Try to keep those to a minimum. Use tofu, seitan, tempeh, or organic TVP (not dyed) in your cooking instead. TVP is textured vegetable protein and this one for instance has only one ingredient.
You might think that that's a lot of effort, so here's my second tip: Follow a well-structured vegan pregnancy meal plan, to make getting all the nutrients that you and your baby need easy.
After 30 years experience in plant based cooking and as a midwife of 17 years I can provide you with professional guidance, no matter what trimester you’re in.
In this blog, you will find a one-day sample of a vegan meal plan, including preparation tips and full recipes to follow. For more information and more meal plan ideas, please feel free to get in touch with me directly.
Nutrients: The Key to a Great Vegan Pregnancy Meal Plan
Certain nutrients such as vitamin B12, omega-3 fats, iron, iodine, calcium, choline, folate and zinc are especially important to consume during pregnancy. It is also important to get adequate amounts of protein. Here’s how you can tick all of these boxes with The Pregnant Vegan meal planning support.
You will learn how to include at least 70g plant protein per day, increasing to around 100g by the third trimester.
Your vitamin B12 in the plan can either come from fortified foods or from a supplement. Many plant milks are fortified with B12. When you buy plant milk, always check the label to be 100% sure.
Aim for 2.8 micrograms from fortified foods - two cups of plant milk can do that - one tablespoon of nutritional yeast gives you almost double that!
Your iron comes from chia seeds, molasses, green leafy veg and pulses. Your blood results will determine if you need to supplement iron further.
I do recommend a pregnancy and omega-3 supplement, simply because they contain folate, plant based vitamin D3 and iron - all of which will be recommended by your care provider. Taking a complete supplement ensures adequate intake of zinc, B12 and other vitamins and minerals, too. If your pregnancy supplement doesn't already include choline, it is worth getting a separate choline supplement of 450mg per day.
Cytoplan is a UK company who offer a vegan omega-3 supplement suited for pregnancy.
Purition is another UK-based company which makes clean protein powders. Its products have been specifically declared safe for pregnancy.
While you might be experiencing pregnancy nausea which can make it difficult to face food, it is important that you eat when you can and choose foods that contain slow-release carbs and protein. Be kind to yourself and strategic during those early weeks when nausea makes eating difficult. Some simple meal swaps can help you with getting nutritious comfort foods.
A Quick and Easy Sample Vegan Meal Plan
A vegan pregnancy meal plan should be bursting with yummy, healthy recipes that are not strenuous to make. Below is a table of possible breakfast, lunch and dinner options that are both quick and easy to whip up and some simple snacks to keep you satisfied all day.
Please note: I also offer 7-day meal plans, including weekend-friendly sweet treats. This is just a one-day example of how easy it is to follow a vegan diet that’s full of nutritional goodness!
Breakfast: Peanut Butter and Banana on Rye (Serves 1)
For a scrummy breakfast that’s both filling and full of protein - you’ll love this rye bread and peanut butter combination. What I love about this recipe is the different textures: the fresh bread paired with sweet banana and peanut butter that’s ready to melt in your mouth - so delicious!
Here’s what you need to make this dish:
- 1 slice German rye bread (about 100g - I like Biona Rye)
- 5-10g vegan butter (just go ahead and spread it on)
- 1.5 tablespoons peanut butter (sugar-free)
- 1 banana
To make, simply spread your bread with butter, then your favourite peanut butter (smooth or crunchy). Slice your banana and put it on top. You can sprinkle a little cocoa powder or cinnamon powder on top to add extra sweetness if you like.
Enjoy with a cup of herbal tea, decaf tea or coffee and a glass of plant milk.
Top tip: the German rye is exchangeable with a slice of sourdough or another wholemeal bread. When it comes to bread in this plan, I encourage seedy bread for extra fibre and protein. Try to stay away from white toast as this tends to have lots of sugar and quite a high glycemic index.
Lunch: Mixed Leaf Salad with Avocado, Tomatoes and Oven Tofu (Serves 2)
As the above-mentioned breakfast will be quite filling, this makes for a perfect light lunch to see you through until dinnertime. It combines lots of lovely fresh flavours - from the creamy avocado right through to the juicy tomatoes. Plus, it is so quick and easy to throw together during your lunch break if you haven’t prepared it already.
Here’s what you need:
- 320 g firm tofu (in the UK Tofoo is great)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Generous amount salad leaf
- 8-12 cherry tomatoes
- 1 avocado
- 1 portion salad dressing (2-4 tablespoon)
- 2 wholemeal pita bread
To get started, preheat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4). Line an oven tray with baking paper. Arrange the tofu on it and rub it with olive oil. Sprinkle it with salt and paprika powder, turn over and do the same on the other side. Bake for 5 minutes, turn over and bake for another 5 minutes.
While the tofu is in, wash your salad, slice the tomatoes and slice the avocado. Share everything evenly between two plates.
When the tofu is ready, take it out of the oven. It should be starting to crisp but not entirely dried out. Let it cool slightly and put it on top of the salad. Drizzle with a little dressing and enjoy immediately.
Tip: I make enough Tofu for two or three salads, so you can have this assembled even quicker.
Dinner: Lentil Pasta with Soy Mince Sauce (Serves 2)
This beautifully smoky, hearty dish makes a great weeknight evening treat. With crunchy peppers, tangy tomatoes, a sprinkling of carrot and a kick of chilli - it’s not surprising that it's a firm favourite amongst many of my clients!
For four portions of the soy mince pasta sauce, you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red pepper finely sliced
- 1 carrot peeled and grated
- 1 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 1 medium red chilli deseeded and finely chopped
- 3/4 tablespoons of sweet paprika powder
- 40ml light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 3/4 tablespoons of cocoa powder (level, not heaped)
- 1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 250ml warm water
- 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- 200g organic TVP (soya mince, not dyed)
To make, put a large pan with a lid on medium heat and add the olive oil. Give it a minute or two to heat and add the onion. Saute the onion until it goes clear (5-7 minutes). Add the garlic, the grated carrot and pepper. Stir and saute for another two minutes and add the soya mince.
Make sure to stir so that all the veg and mince are mixed.
Now add the water, tomato, soy sauce and spices. Stir and let it simmer for about 40-60 minutes to let the flavour develop.
Either serve immediately with lentil pasta and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, or allow to cool down and then refrigerate. This dish lasts up to three days in the fridge. You should only reheat once, so split it into portions and only reheat what you need for your meal.
Tip: add some extra crunch, fibre and deliciousness by serving a salad to the side.
I really hope you enjoy this taster of my vegan pregnancy meal plan. If you have any questions or would like to try more of my recipes - please don’t hesitate to contact me!
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