"Will my diet harm my baby?" and "How do I make sure to get enough protein?" are often the first questions a vegetarian mother-to-be asks. |
Protein is important because it helps your body grow, recover from injury or illness, and provides the building blocks for that tiny baby inside you to grow. Protein comes from animal and plant sources and is made up of amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids; the body itself can make 11 of them, while the other nine are considered "essential" amino acids and must be absorbed from food.
Even though meat is a great and easy way to obtain protein, you can incorporate all nine essential amino acids into your diet without eating any meat. To do this, it's important to eat a variety of whole grains, veggies, beans, soy, legumes, seeds and nuts to make sure you absorb all the essential amino acids. Some foods are lower in one amino acid, while another might be higher. Consuming all the essential amino acids in one meal isn't necessary. As long as you eat a variety of foods on a regular basis they will combine to make complete proteins.
There are several advantages to eating a vegetarian diet:
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