Healthy Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet Plan

  • Srishti Dixit Masters of Science in Biomedical Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

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Being a mother is the world's most precious gift and plays a vital role in a child's life, both before and after birth. Every mother desires a healthy and energetically positive start for their babies.  With the increasing trend of vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, it's crucial for expecting mothers to understand the nutrients essential for their foetus's healthy development. This article focuses on healthy nutrients, vegetarian diet plans, and important considerations for pregnant women. 

Importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy:

  • Healthy lifestyle habits from preconception to postpartum are vital for a healthy pregnancy and for preventing diseases like gestational disorders.1
  • A nutritious diet contributes to positive outcomes such as excellent mental health and weight management.1

Benefits of a healthy vegetable diet:

  • A healthy vegetable diet helps obese and diabetic women overcome adverse prenatal outcomes such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus.1
  • Vegetables, being low in calories and high in fibre, help maintain weight, prevent constipation, and aid in digestion. 
  • Such a diet is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
  • Additionally, it promotes skin health and hydration due to the high water content and antioxidants in certain vegetables.

Nutritional requirements during pregnancy

Pregnant women should maintain a well-balanced and diverse diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients.  Prenatal vitamins, when prescribed by a healthcare expert, can also help address nutritional deficits. It is crucial to stay in close contact with your healthcare professional throughout the pregnancy to address specific dietary needs and any concerns.

Some nutrients that are important for both mother and baby are:

  • Iodine is crucial for a baby’s brain development and overall growth.2
  • Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, bone health, and building the foetus’s immune system.3
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), play a vital role in the foetus’s brain and eye development. 
  • Calcium supports the development of bones, teeth, muscles, and the heart, preventing muscle ache or body pain in pregnant women.4
  • Iron aids in red blood cell production and oxygen transportation, with increased needs during pregnancy.
  • Folic acid is essential for the early-stage development of the foetus, preventing neural tube defects. 
  • Polyunsaturated fats and fibre-rich carbohydrates are crucial for pregnant women. 

Planning a healthy vegetarian diet

Planning a healthy vegetarian diet involves focusing on maintaining or building a healthy lifestyle rather than losing weight. This includes adopting a nutrient-rich diet, utilising nutritional supplementation as needed, and incorporating regular exercise. 

  • Include starchy foods like pasta, bread, and potatoes.
  • Choose high-fibre and whole-grain foods such as oats, beans, lentils, cereals, seeds, wholegrain bread, brown rice, and pasta.6 
  • Consume at least five portions of various fruits and vegetables daily, avoiding excessive fruit juice.6   
  • Reduce fried food intake.6
  • Ensure daily consumption of protein. Tofu, beans, and lentils (both green and red) are excellent sources of protein.6
  • Include protein sources like tofu, beans, and lentils, aiming for a total protein intake of 1.3 gm per kg for mature women and slightly higher for adolescents.7 

Foods to avoid during pregnancy

  • Limit caffeine intake to about 200-300 mg per day.
  • Avoid unpasteurised dairy products, raw eggs, raw seafood, and certain high-mercury fish species.
  • Foods containing raw eggs, such as mayonnaise, Caesar dressing or certain desserts should be avoided due to potential salmonella contamination.
  • Avoid raw  seafood, including sushi, oysters and sashimi, due to the risk of parasitic infection.
  • Avoid certain  fish species, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, due to their high mercury content, which can harm the baby's developing nervous system.

Special considerations and supplements

  • Increase calorie intake by around 200 calories per day during the third trimester.6 
  • Consume vitamin B12-rich supplements and multivitamins as needed. 

Importance of adequate exercise during pregnancy

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily.9  
  • Exercise contributes to lower resting heart rates, decreased body fat percentage, and improved neurodevelopment in infants.9  

Consulting a healthcare professional

Consulting a healthcare professional is crucial during the preconception phase. Preconception care provides health awareness, screening, and important information to the mother. The healthcare professional advises the first-time mother on what is beneficial for both her and her baby, identifies any vitamin deficiencies, recommends minimal exercise, and advises on habits to avoid.

Pregnant women should consult a doctor as soon as they suspect they are pregnant or as early as possible in their pregnancy to receive proper prenatal care and guidance. Regular prenatal visits throughout pregnancy are essential to monitor the health of both the mother and the developing baby and to address any potential issues or concerns that may arise.10 


Maintaining a healthy vegetarian diet during pregnancy is crucial for the well-being of both the foetus and the mother. This article has highlighted essential nutrients, foods to avoid, and guidelines for planning a nutritious vegetarian diet. Regular prenatal care, including monitoring progress and addressing potential complications, is associated with improved pregnancy outcomes. Overall, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and appropriate supplementation, guided by healthcare professionals, contribute to a healthy and positive pregnancy journey for both the mother and the baby.


  1. Mate A, Reyes-Goya C, Santana-Garrido Á, Vázquez CM. Lifestyle, maternal nutrition and healthy pregnancy. CVP [Internet]. 2020 Dec 30 [cited 2024 Feb 15];19(2):132–40. Available from:
  2. Zimmermann MB. Iodine deficiency in pregnancy and the effects of maternal iodine supplementation on the offspring: a review. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [Internet]. 2009 Feb [cited 2024 Feb 15];89(2):668S-672S. Available from:
  3. Kovacs CS. Vitamin D in pregnancy and lactation: maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes from human and animal studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [Internet]. 2008 Aug [cited 2024 Feb 15];88(2):520S-528S. Available from:
  4. Kovacs CS. Calcium and bone metabolism during pregnancy and lactation. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia [Internet]. 2005 Apr [cited 2024 Feb 15];10(2):105–18. Available from:
  5. Denny KJ, Woodruff TM, Taylor SM, Callaway LK. Complement in pregnancy: a delicate balance. American J Rep Immunol [Internet]. 2013 Jan [cited 2024 Feb 15];69(1):3–11. Available from:
  6. Marshall NE, Abrams B, Barbour LA, Catalano P, Christian P, Friedman JE, et al. The importance of nutrition in pregnancy and lactation: lifelong consequences. Am J Obstet Gynecol [Internet]. 2022 May [cited 2024 Feb 15];226(5):607–32. Available from:
  7. Pitkin RM. Nutritional influences during pregnancy. Medical Clinics of North America [Internet]. 1977 Jan [cited 2024 Feb 15];61(1):3–15. Available from:
  8. Key TJ, Appleby PN, Bradbury KE, Sweeting M, Wood A, Johansson I, et al. Consumption of meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs and risk of ischemic heart disease: a prospective study of 7198 incident cases among 409 885 participants in the pan-European epic cohort. Circulation [Internet]. 2019 Jun 18 [cited 2024 Feb 15];139(25):2835–45. Available from:
  9. Prather H, Spitznagle T, Hunt D. Benefits of exercise during pregnancy. PM&R [Internet]. 2012 Nov [cited 2024 Feb 15];4(11):845–50. Available from:
  10. Kogan MD. The changing pattern of prenatal care utilization in the united states, 1981-1995, using different prenatal care indices. JAMA [Internet]. 1998 May 27 [cited 2024 Feb 15];279(20):1623. Available from:

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Srishti Dixit

Masters of Science in Biomedical Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Hi! My name is Srishti Dixit I am currently doing my masters in Biomedical Engineering. I have always been inclined towards research and scientific writing since my bachelors. Sharing knowledge about health and healthy lifestyle and alarming people about it is important. A healthy mindset and body is always a first step to positivity. Reading articles spread awareness and encouragement to follow a healthy lifestyle. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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