Vegetarianism became popular in Russia years ago. However, a majority of Russian nutritionists and gynecologists believe that this diet is not suitable for Russians and absolutely contraindicated for pregnant women. This is caused by the lack of protein-rich vegetables growing in Russian climate conditions. Would pregnant vegetarians have to start eating meat?
Lack of vegetarian tradition in Russia is caused by the climate. Vegetarianism is a fashionable trend borrowed from the warm East where climate is completely different.
Traditional medicine recognizes vegetarianism, but only as a temporary diet prescribed to improve health. This diet is only suitable for healthy adult people, since during religious Lent children, sick people, and pregnant women were allowed to stick to their regular diets.
Vegetarianism is harmful for pregnant women because foods of animal origin rich in protein, vitamins B and D, calcium, iron, and zinc, are required for the development of a healthy fetus. Without these elements, a fetus may develop intrauterine degeneration which could lead to serious consequences.
Even if a woman feels terribly sorry for cows and pigs, by the fifth month of pregnancy she has to pull herself together. According to OB/GYNs, this is the time when the fetus starts its rapid growth and needs 3.4 ounces of protein a day, with 60% of it coming from animals.
No matter how many various types of fresh fruits and vegetables a woman’s diet includes, her body would still lack iron. Iron contained in vegetables is not easily digested. In order to obtain the same amount of protein you would obtain by eating four ounces of meat, you would have to eat four pounds of apples. No pregnant woman is capable of eating four pounds of apples, while everyone can eat a small piece of boiled meat.
Iron is one of the most important elements. Lack of iron leads to anemia (lowered level of hemoglobin), which means that a pregnant woman’s tissues and growing fetus will not get sufficient supply of oxygen.
Anemia may be caused by deficit of vitamin В 12 contained only in animal products. Essential amino acids can also be found in animal products only. Human body cannot synthesize them and must obtain them from elsewhere. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are essential at the stage of rapid fetus growth.
Vegetarian diet does not provide necessary amount of calories, provided cakes and pastries are not a large part of such a diet. An attempt to gain 2,500 calories a day from vegetarian food may result in unpleasant sensations in the stomach, let alone other serious consequences. It can lead to possible issues at a ferment level when vegetarian food is not digested for both mothers and their babies.
Vegetarian food does not contain enough fats and cholesterol that are only harmful in excessive amounts and essential for both mothers and babies when consumed in moderation.
There are no dietary supplements or vitamin complexes capable of substituting animal foods for pregnant women.
Dietary supplements can only partially compensate the need for particular elements. If a pregnant woman is planning on breast feeding, she will require animal food.
Meat products can be temporarily excluded from the diet, for example, in case of toxicosis, when fresh juices and fruit are more appropriate than meat. It is not a bad idea to exclude meat from the diet when running a high temperature. This way your body will not waste energy on digesting “heavy” food.
In any case, it is a matter of personal choice. If a woman wants to stay a vegetarian and have a healthy baby she can always move to a warmer country to enjoy fruits and vegetables rich in protein and iron all year round.