Is it safe to eat a vegetarian diet while pregnant?
Protein needs increase by 25 grams per day during pregnancy. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can easily increase their protein intake by adding an extra cup of milk and a few slices of cheese or additional eggs. Vegans, who combine incomplete protein sources to meet their protein needs, should increase their consumption of these protein sources and carefully monitor their protein intake.
Additionally, iron needs are substantially higher during pregnancy, and most women will need to take an iron supplement regardless of whether they follow a vegetarian diet. The absorption of iron from nonmeat sources can be improved by including a vitamin C source. Having orange juice with fortified breakfast cereal is a great way for pregnant women to increase their iron absorption.
In addition to protein and iron, vegetarians also need to be careful to consume enough calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Calcium can come from dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as alternate sources such as fortified cereal or juice. The best source of vitamin D is fortified milk. Vitamin B12 is found in fortified breakfast cereal, some fortified soy milk and animal products. Vegans should not count on getting B12 from tempeh, sea vegetables or algae, because the amount of B12 in those foods is not reliable.