Everything You Want to Know About Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet

Is it safe?
Foods to eat
Foods to avoid
Meal plan

Millions of people do not consume any kind of meat. They are vegetarian by choice and this lifestyle comes with many health benefits. What if you are pregnant and decide to cut meat from your diet? Is it going to help in the proper development of your baby? Can it hurt to follow a vegetarian diet plan during pregnancy?

Your body needs many nutrients during pregnancy. It may be a bit tough to get all those nutrients from a plant-based diet. However, you can plan a perfect vegetarian pregnancy diet to keep yourself and the baby healthy.

Is a vegetarian diet safe during pregnancy?

Vegetarian pregnancy diet

You need to abstain from consuming meat when you follow a vegetarian diet plan. Yes, you can consume dairy products and therefore it is different from a vegan diet plan. A vegetarian diet is pretty beneficial. It lowers health risks associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

You can avoid saturated fat and cholesterol when you eat plant-based foods. A vegetarian diet plan is completely safe for pregnant women. It requires adding more veggies and fruits to your meals. Those plant-based foods can prevent pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.

Millions of women in India strictly avoid animal products and India got one of the highest birth rates. Plant-based diet plans help in the proper growth of the child. The risk of childhood diseases, such as eczema, asthma, cancers, and diabetes reduces significantly.

So, it is safe to say that vegetarian diet plans are perfect for pregnant women. You should avoid meats and seafood to avoid complications and stay healthy.

What should pregnant vegetarians eat?

When it comes to preparing a diet plan for pregnancy, you should carefully choose foods that meet your nutritional needs. Your body will need vitamin B12, D, protein, iron, calcium, and many other nutrients. Let’s find out what foods you should eat to get the required nutrients!


You need protein more than other nutrients. It helps in producing hormones for the child and building cells. A vegan diet restricts the consumption of dairy products. You can consume dairy products when following the vegetarian diet.

You should consume milk, cheese, and other dairy products. You can also consume plant-based foods to get 75 grams of protein per day. Green peas, nut butter, chickpeas, quinoa, kidney beans, bulgar, oatmeal, whole grain cereals, and whole wheat pasta should be in your pregnancy diet.


Calcium is another essential nutrient you need to keep the child healthy. It plays a vital role in developing the child’s muscles, bones, nerves, and heart. You need calcium in abundance in the third trimester.

You need to get enough calcium to keep your bones strong. The baby’s calcium comes from your bones. Therefore, you should follow a calcium-rich diet plan. Vegan women may face health problems due to avoiding dairy products.

Foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich sources of calcium and protein. Plant-based foods can also increase your daily calcium intake. You must consume soy milk, leafy green veggies, calcium-fortified juice, and Tofu during pregnancy. Thus, the risk of calcium deficiency will be pretty low.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is needed for fetal brain development. It supports the proper development of the child when combined with folic acid. This nutrient helps in building genetic material and the creation of red blood cells. The risk of preterm labor and neural tube defects increases due to vitamin B12 deficiency.

Most pregnant women do not experience vitamin B12 deficiencies because they follow a regular diet plan. Vegetarian women may also not experience this health issue. However, vegan pregnant women may experience this problem.

Vitamin B12 is obtained from foods that mainly come from animals. The doctor may recommend vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements to prevent health risks. Expert dietitians also recommend fortified cereals, vitamin B-12 fortified meat substitutes, plant milk, and nutritional yeast.


Iron helps in producing red blood cells. The risk of anemia increases due to a lack of iron. It can cause low birth weight and preterm labor. Many women, regardless of their diet plan, experience iron deficiency. Therefore, doctors recommend iron supplements during pregnancy.

You need 27 grams of iron per day. Add edamame, beans, soy products, oat bran. Quinoa, barley, bulgur, dried fruits, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, spinach, green peas, seaweed, and other such foods to your daily diet plan. Those vegetarian foods will not let you experience iron deficiency.

Vitamin D

You need vitamin D to keep your bones strong. Congenital rickets and bone fractures in newborn babies may occur due to vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, pregnant women must consume foods that prevent vitamin D deficiency.

Milk and fish are the two best sources of vitamin D. Being a vegetarian woman, you may not eat fish. However, you can increase milk intake to keep your baby strong and healthy.

List of Vegetarian Foods for Pregnancy

Vegetarian food for pregnancy

(click on image for a high resolution)

Download pdf list of allowed vegetarian foods for pregnant lady here

What should vegetarians not eat during pregnancy?

There are many things vegetarian women should avoid during pregnancy. Alcohol, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners are some items you may like to avoid to stay healthy and keep your baby healthy.

Do not eat raw and uncooked foods. You should avoid sprouted nuts, raw grains, honey, and uncooked foods. Unpasteurized cheese, milk, and uncooked soy products can also trigger health issues.

Eat fresh and nutrient-rich vegetables to improve your health. Thus, you can eliminate the risk of health problems and your baby will develop properly during the pregnancy period.

List of Vegetarian Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Vegetarian foods to avoid during pregnancy

(click on image for a high resolution)

Download pdf list of vegetarian foods to avoid during pregnancy here

Sample Meal Plan for Pregnant Vegetarians

You should start consuming smoothies, juices, and add baked snacks into your diet plan. Take three meals a day and replace tea or coffee with delicious juices. You already know the nutrients your body needs during pregnancy.

We have also suggested foods and veggies you can consume to get those nutrients. So, find some recipes that help you prepare the best meal to get the best nourishment during pregnancy.

One Day Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet Menu Plan

Vegetarian pregnancy meal plan


  • Add one quarter cup of raisins and one cup of fortified soy milk to one cup of ready-to-eat cereal that has been fortified with vitamin B-12.
  • Two pieces of toast made with whole-wheat flour and two teaspoons of almond butter.
  • 1/4 cup of any kind of calcium-fortified fruit juice you choose.


  • Make a sandwich with two pieces of whole-grain bread, a half cup of cooked tofu, and some lettuce.
  • 2 cups of a mixed salad that has some herbs sprinkled on top.
  • Lemon juice and one fruit slice.


  • 1/2 cup of rice accompanied with 1 cup of red beans.
  • 1/2 cup of broccoli that has been cooked and seasoned with nutritional yeast.
  • 1 cup of spinach salad.
  • One cup of soymilk with added nutrients.


  • 2 teaspoons of chopped nuts
  • 1 dish containing a variety of fruits
  • Three to four whole-wheat crackers

Listed below are a few tips for vegetarian pregnant or breastfeeding women:

  • Do not over-consume any of the following foods, as doing so can lead to increased iodine requirements: cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, especially if eaten raw. Soybeans, raw flax, corn and millet also increase iodine requirements. However, if iodine intake is adequate, the intake of these foods in healthy individuals does not cause problems in the functioning of the thyroid gland.
  • Do not ingest large amounts of iodized salt or seaweed, as this can affect thyroid function. If seaweed is used as a source of iodine, the following three are recommended: kelp, kombu and hijiki. An interesting trick is to put 100 grams of dried hijiki seaweed or 15g of kelp or kombu seaweed in a jar. That jar contains the amount of iodine that an adult needs in a year.
  • The amount of iodine ingested should be in the range of 100 to 300 micrograms per day. If supplements are taken, they should be about 100-150 micrograms. Four tablets a week, with 150 micrograms of iodine each, is sufficient.
  • Four tablets a week, with 150 micrograms of iodine each, is sufficient.

Final thoughts

Many women take plant-based diet during pregnancy. This diet reduces health risks caused by meat-based foods. You should feel happy if you are a vegetarian person. Make sure you get all the required nutrients to have a healthy and strong baby.

We hope you have received all the information about: vegetarian pregnancy diet. Leave your comments and share your impressions and opinions about: vegetarian pregnancy diet. We are always ready to answer all your questions about having a baby, healthy eating and dieting. Stay with us!

Stephany Bennett
Dr. Stephany Bennett is a registered nutritionist with an MD from the University of Pittsburgh. She uses her research background to provide evidence-based advice on diet for pregnant women. She is a firm believer that nutritional science is an ever-changing field, so her pregnancy diet recommendations combine classic methods with the latest findings.


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