Protein is the nutritional building block of life. So, it makes sense that mamas-to-be need extra protein in their diet. You are BUILDING A HUMAN BEING, after all! Consuming an adequate amount of protein is critical, especially during the second and third trimesters when your baby’s growth is exponential.
Before becoming pregnant, women require an average of about 45 g protein per day. Pregnant women are advised to consume at least 75 g protein per day. No meat? No prob! It’s totally possible to construct a prenatal diet that is higher in plant-based protein and insure you’re consuming enough for both yourself and your growing baby. In fact, I’ve done it for you! Read on for your Plant-Based Protein Prenatal Meal Plan.
There’s currently a disproportionate obsession with protein and trends toward excessively high-protein diets in American culture. What is referred to as a “typical American diet” is overly meat- and dairy-centric. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are squeezed off the plate in order to make room for enormous portions meat, cheese, and refined carbohydrates. I bring this up not to downplay the importance of protein in the diet, but rather to highlight the fact that we’ve swung in the direction of an unhealthy obsession. When you learn about the protein content of certain plants foods and start tallying grams of protein consumed, you’ll realize you don’t need meat and dairy, and certainly not at every meal.
Those people who choose not to eat meat and/or dairy need to be a little more mindful to make sure their needs for protein are being met, but it is entirely possible! (Protein aside, remember to take your prenatal vitamins and B-12 supplements if you’re foregoing all animal products to ensure a super healthy plant-based pregnancy.)
For years I didn’t eat meat, eggs, dairy, or seafood. In the last couple of years I’ve introduced a very, very small amount seafood and dairy into my diet on occasion. I’ve never been protein deficient, nor have I suffered fatigue or any other symptoms of protein deficiency (save my first trimester of pregnancy, but that was an alternate reality and doesn’t count). As an added side note, my now 19-month-old son who eats the same plant-based diet I do was administered a hemoglobin test at the doctor today to measure his iron levels, and the results came back 100% on target.
Now, without further ado (or anecdotes)…
Here’s your 5-DAY PLANT-BASED PROTEIN PRENATAL MEAL PLAN. In fact, it’s not just plant-based, but vegan (meat- and dairy-free) just to prove that it is possible to meet your protein needs exclusively with plants. Every day’s menu meets the prenatal daily protein requirement of 75 g and features a variety of whole food ingredients that offer a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. Bon appétit, mamas!
Breakfast: Tofu Scramble with a toasted Food for Life Ezekiel Sprouted Grain English Muffin (or another high protein brand that you prefer)
Snack: Kitchen Sink Granola Bar and a banana
Lunch: Chickpea Salad Sandwich (2 servings) on a whole Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Pita (Again, there may be alternatives out there that are just as nutritious, but this is my go-to.)
Snack: Banana Date Oatmeal Bars (2) and 1 ounce raw walnuts
Dinner: Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas and 1 cup mixed brown rice and pinto beans
Breakfast: Carrot Cake Oatmeal
Snack: Mary’s Gone Crackers (1 serving or about 12 crackers) or some other high protein seed crackers with 1/4 cup hummus
Snack: Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites (3)
Dinner: Coconut Oil Veggie Stir Fry with 1 cup steamed edamame (in shell)
Breakfast: Quinoa Breakfast Cereal
Snack: 1 cup sliced carrots and celery with 3 Tablespoons almond butter (or any other nut or seed butter)
Lunch: Kale Quinoa White Bean Italian Soup with an Ezekiel Sprouted Grain English Muffin
Snack: Kitchen Sink Granola Bars (2)
Dinner: Black Bean Edamame Veggie Burger patties (2) with Roasted Petite Potato Salad with Haricot Verts and Walnut Basil Pesto
Breakfast: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Snack: Apple with 1/4 cup mixed raw nuts
Lunch: Baked Falafel Sandwich
Snack: Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites (3)
Dinner: Sweet Potato Chickpea Stew
Breakfast: Acai Smoothie Bowl
Snack: Healthy Banana Bread with 1 Tablespoon almond butter (or any other nut or seed butter)
Lunch: Three Bean Sweet Potato Chipotle Chili with a Food For Life Ezekiel Sprouted Grain English Muffin
Snack: Mary’s Gone Crackers (1 serving) with 1/2 avocado
Dinner: Quinoa Crust Pizza served alongside an arugula (or other leafy green) salad full of veggies and 1/4 cup chickpeas
This is what works for me and helps me feel my best. All bodies and pregnancies are different, so listen to your (infinitely intuitive and wise body) and find what works for you!