Vegetarian Pregnancy, Vegetarian Baby

Is it possible to have a healthy pregnancy and baby on a vegetarian diet?  I have been a vegetarian for about twenty years and have lived to write about it on the Green Baby Guide.  Still, many people seem surprised that I’d continue living meat-free once I had a baby on the way.  Why do I do it?  Here are two reasons:

It’s cheap.  We are full-time vegetarians and rarely spend more than $150 a month on groceries for a couple and a toddler, allotting $60 to organic vegetables and the rest to whole grains, nuts, cheeses, and fruit.  A family our size would shell out $368 on the USDA’s “thrifty plan.”   Instead of relying on coupons and other cost-cutting tricks, we save by skipping the meat. 

I’m conserving resources.  Aside from my thriftiness (and childhood pickiness), I’d always told people I avoided meat “for the environment.”  I knew that eating lower on the food chain was more efficient, but didn’t look into it much further.  I was surprised to learn that livestock (and the grain to feed livestock) takes up a whopping thirty percent of our land’s surface, taking over what used to be wilderness and Amazon rainforests. [1]  Most of us are aware that cars are big polluters–livestock creates eighteen percent more greenhouse gasses than all of our transportation methods put together! 

What are your reasons for avoiding meat?  Did you have a vegetarian pregnancy?  Do you plan to raise your kids as vegetarians?  Raising my daughter vegetarian has worked for me (so far, anyway).  For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family.

[1] According to a 2006  report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization


  1. We mainly avoid meat because we’ve seen the health benefits of eating more vegetables. Being thrifty and eating lower on the food chain are just added bonuses!

  2. audrey looks adorable!!

  3. First off, BEAUTIFUL CHILD! 🙂 Hmm. I’m not a vegan but I do love my veggies and soy products rather than meat. I do think it saves so much in the long run… Money on food, money on hospital bills in case meat gets you sick…

  4. Veggiemomma says

    I am 23 and have been a vegetarian for over two years. I started because I wanted to get pregnant (again) and couldn’t stand the thought of growth hormones and antibiotics and other nasties in my body or my baby or my breastmilk. I felt so good and loved it. Not to mention, that being students with a young child already, we did not have a lot of money. We really struggled to pay bills and healthy food always came first (no ketchup packet sandwiches like our student friends!) After cutting out meat, we no longer struggled as much with money (no more food bank!), could afford to buy organic at least on the dirty dozen, and felt GREAT! I even converted my sausage and bacon loving husband, who was raised on McDonalds and bacon everyday.We wouldn’t go back for anything!

  5. I started out in high school being a red meat veggie. I just did not like the smell and taste of red meat. I continued to eat chicken and turkey though. While I was pregnant for my first, for some reason I craved hamburgers so I sometimes caved in and had a burger and cheese.

    After my son was born I started to cut out all meat. I just couldn’t eat chicken and turkey. This time it was a combination of taste and I started believing it is just cruel. I tried going vegan and I liked that. However, I got sucked back into eating cheese and drinking milk with baby number on the two on the way. Not bc I do not think it is not healthy to be vegan and pregnant because you can, but because I always loved milk and cheese anyway and now more that I wam pregnant. When there is an option of a vegan meal or not I always choose vegan ( I love vegan muffins).

    My husband though is a huge meat eater. He has been good with all the “green” changes I made in the household so I will let him have his meat. Only problem though is I cook it. I found a CSA in my area that is all organic and they have your average fruits and veggies but they also have a meat and egg option which I took. I think this meat will last for the year because he is the only one eating it. My son will it occassionaly but it excites me when he spits it out and runs to me for another cucumber or tomato. In the long run I think this will save me money monthly at the grocery store. I will already have my healthy organic grass fed meat for my husband and all the fruits and veggies for my son and I.

  6. I’ve been a pescetarian (I eat seafood, but no meat or poultry–well, occasionally I cave and have some free range chicken) for over 15 years, including throughout my pregnancy (I had chicken maybe twice during those 9 months). I gave up red meat because I think it’s unhealthy, and the rest because of the way the animals are treated.

    Seafood being expensive, I can’t claim your low grocery bills (plus we eat a lot of convenience foods, and organic frozen meals aren’t cheap). My husband eats meat (he cooks it) and I feel that our son should make his own decision when he’s old enough to understand.

    For now (he’s 2 and a half), he doesn’t like meat, and while he used to eat fish, that joined the long list of foods he no longer eats now that he’s in his picky eater phase. So he’s currently vegetarian by choice. He does just fine on tofu and beans and whole grains–he’s been sick less often than most toddlers I know, and he is certainly full of energy!

  7. My sister, who is vegan, takes lots of grief from folks about eating vegan while pregnant and nursing (and also about raising her kids vegan). But her doctors always tell her how healthy the diet is. She has a diabetic (type 1) daughter, and the pediatrician said a vegan diet was great for her. Recently her husband had an inexplicable heart attack (no risk factors), and the doctors said that his vegan diet is probably why the heart attack didn’t kill him. My sister always gains plenty of weight while pregnant and has big babies who quickly become chunky on breast milk. Americans are just funny about meat. Plenty of peoples around the world eat meatless or nearly meatless diets with better health outcomes than us.

    Personally, I eat little meat for various reasons (health, cost, environment, animal welfare), but have found during this pregnancy that I can’t tolerate meat at all (and I’m well beyond the 1st trimester). I don’t worry about it, but just try to be conscientious about getting protein from other sources.

  8. I don’t plan on giving my daughter any meat or dairy products for as long as possible. I have never believed that cow’s milk was good for us..for me it is a “treat” only (i have cheese occasionally). My meat and dairy loving husband actually agrees with me on this, which is shocking. Even he knows deep down that it’s unhealthy.

  9. Love the photo: happy, healthy, cutie!!

  10. $150 a month for three?? How do you do that? My husband and I are both semi-vegetarian (we eat seafood), and our food spending sometimes goes up to $400 a month!!! I am not sure what I am doing wrong. what’s on your shopping list???

  11. Tncastro, it had been a while since I last tracked my food spending, so I decided to keep track again in this last month or so. I am going to track for two months to get a better average and then report back.

    So far it looks like I’m spending more like $175/month. Food prices have gone up a lot since I came up with that $150 figure (when I tracked two years ago, I was spending $120/month–so when I wrote this I rounded up a bit to account for the higher food prices and the age of my daughter).

    Anyway, the $66/month I spend on the organic veggies comprises the bulk of our food. At the grocery store I buy stuff like milk, eggs, cheese, nuts, flour, and oil. We are kind of light eaters compared to a lot of people, so for example last night we had a salad with hard-boiled eggs and sunflower seeds for dinner, and the night before we ate baked potatoes and asparagus. For breakfast we eat toast (on homemade bread) or oatmeal. I eat leftovers for lunch, my husband always eats a black bean burrito (homemade & frozen), and Audrey eats things like peanut butter sandwiches.

    After I am done keeping track of all my expenses, I plan to write a few posts about it. I’m curious to hear other people’s methods for saving money on groceries, too!

  12. Hello,

    I’m not a blogger but enjoy your blog VERY much so, as a new mom and green-ite.

    I’m VERY interested in how you spend less than $200 a month for your family on groceries. Looking forward to your posts on your expense-tracking. Could you please include possibly a few days’ worth of meals so I can get some great money-saving ideas?

  13. I would for someone to post a link for examples of money-saving and organic based shopping lists and meals for a week. I need something concrete to look at and follow…

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