Vegan pregnancy and raising vegan kids
The body has different nutritional needs during pregnancy. The most important differences are the need for protein, omega fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, vitamin D and folic acid. The energy requirement is also slightly increased during pregnancy.
Folic acid and iodine are recommended throughout the entire pregnancy. Some people are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency dependent on their skin tone and on the amount of sunshine they receive, or if there’s a history of deficiency.
Midwives will screen for this.
Furthermore, with a plant-based diet extra attention must be paid to taking sufficient protein, iron and calcium, zinc, vitamins B1 and B2. Vitamin B12 must be taken daily through fortified products or as a supplement.
Being hapū/pregnant is an exciting time as you nurture and grow your baby/pēpi. Eating well while during hapūtanga is important for the long-term health of mum and pēpi. A vegan diet can meet your nutritional requirements, provided you eat a wide selection of kai/foods from all the right food groups and supplement with key nutrients.
For optimal nutrition we should be eating mostly minimally processed kai and limiting fat, sugar and highly processed kai. See Vegan Pregnancy brochure for details on planning your vegan diet.
Recipes for pregnancy
Provided by Nourish App: Pregnancy Pack
The following recipes were developed by Nourish App nutritionists and incorporate important nutrients for pregnancy.
Breast Feeding Mums and Plant Based Nutrition 0-12 months
Providing pēpi with a nutritious diet lays the foundation for optimal growth and development and good health. Raising a vegan pēpi from birth is a recent trend which has not been widely studied.
As a parent you may wonder whether this is a safe choice. The research does suggest that Tamariki raised on a well-balanced plant-based diet can grow well, are less likely to be overweight and may have a lower long term risk of chronic disease. However, poorly planned vegan diets that do not replace the vital nutrients found in animal products, can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies and poor growth. This will have a lifelong impact on their health and wellbeing.
Breastfeeding your vegan pēpi for at least two years will give them the best possible start. At around 6 months a variety of nutritious and energy dense foods need to be added to meet their growth needs. It is important to take pēpi to have regular health and growth checks and to make sure they are reaching their developmental milestones. Well Child Tamariki Ora provider will support you on this journey.
See our brochure Plant-based Nutrition for Babies 0-12 months.
Taioranga Whēkana for tamariki 4-8 years
Tamariki need the right balance of energy and nutrients to grow optimally and reach their full potential. Thriving hauora (health) is easy with a well-planned, plant-based diet (PBD). Nourishing your child is a big responsibility, so arming yourself with the mātauranga (knowledge) and skills in order to raise a healthy vegan tamaiti is essential.
In this mātārere (brochure) we refer to a plant-based diet (PBD) as well as a vegan diet. A wholefood PBD is based on minimally processed kai and is low in added sugar, salt and fats. However, not all vegan diets are healthy! A diet consisting mainly of ultra processed kai and high fat take aways will certainly not be healthier than the standard Western diet. Tamariki are less likely to be overweight if they have a balanced PBD, and they may have lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers as adults.
Simply eliminating animal-based kai, without thoughtfully replacing with nutrient-dense, plant-based kai, exposes children to energy and/or nutritional deficiencies. Any poorly-planned, low quality diet – conventional or vegan – can have detrimental effects on physical and mental development and long-term hauora.
By arming yourself with fundamental mātauranga taioranga (nutrition education) and thoughtfully approaching your meal plans, you can give your plant-powered tamaiti a great foundation!
Resources & quick links
Additional online nutritional resources.
The majority of the leading causes of death in the Western world (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer) start in childhood. If we're serious about preventing these diseases, we need to start with our kids!