I’m a meat-eater myself and at this point in my life I am yet to see a future for my family and I where a bacon sandwich isn’t occasionally enjoyed, albeit not as often as my husband would like. I’m also pretty certain that the removal of meat in our house would be grounds for divorce.
However based on the conversations I have had with vegetarian friends and from what I’ve read on the subject, I would say it is a fair statement to make that vegetarianism is without a doubt one of the healthiest life choices that we can make for our bodies.
Whatever our life choice is; whether that be vegetarian, pescatarian or meat-eater, it is essential to ensure our diet provides all the essential nutrients we need for our bodies and that our diet accommodates a proportional range of foods.
When pregnant we need to enhance our focus even more on these vital nutrients and when we remove a major food group such as meat from our diet we need to source these elsewhere.
Protein is a fundamental nutrient required for producing antibodies and hormones alongside building and repairing muscles and tissue and we all need it. If you ask people; excluding the estimated 2% of vegetarians in the UK what their main source of protein is they would probably like myself, reply with either seafood, poultry or meat. Thankfully however there is a wide variety of other non meat sources readily available to us.
Another vital nutrient we need is iron and it plays a crucial role in pregnancy. During pregnancy your body generates more blood which allows the body to deliver nutrients across the placenta to your baby. Great sources of iron rich foods are fortified cereals and wholemeal breads along with dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach plus eggs. Just remember that they must be well cooked. The consumption of vitamin C increases the absorption of iron in the body and on the Smoothies and Juices page there is a recipe for my Orange Tonic Juice which is a great drink to kick off the day with.
Living in the UK many of us have low levels of vitamin D as we get our main source from the sun and based on the previous summers we have had lately, this doesn’t give us much hope.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day and are advised to take a supplement containing this amount. Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium in the body which is needed to keep teeth, bones and muscles healthy. Most vitamin D can be found in oily fish, meat and eggs which is no benefit to women following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Other sources are available such as almond milk fortified with vitamin D, fortified orange juice and soy yoghurt and many of the recipes I use on my page include unsweetened almond milk.
I believe that healthy vegetarians who have an understanding of the importance of a balanced diet do tend to consume a higher volume of the nutrients their bodies need to function and by consuming less animal fats and cholesterol they drastically reduce their risk of developing obesity, heart disease and diabetes. By eating a larger variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grain produce its entirely possible to get all the adequate vital nutrients needed; and that can only result in a healthy pregnancy.
Another added bonus and according to the Global Healing Centre (www.globalhealingcentre.com) is that adopting a vegetarian diet may also improve mood which surely can only be a good thing when you’re six months pregnant, tired and hormonal.
So maybe if I do choose to embark on the journey of pregnancy again; I may decide to adopt a vegetarian diet.
That is of course if I can manage to give up my bacon sandwiches.
Happy Healthy Pregnancy to you all