Is a pregnant woman at risk of lacking protein if she does not eat meat, poultry or fish?

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If she is lacto-ovo-vegetarian, probably not.

But if she is vegan, yes!

If the pregnant woman does not consume any animal products, she may not consume enough protein. Vegetarians who consume dairy products and eggs, which are protein-rich, most often consume sufficient amounts to cover their needs.

Proteins are made of several amino acids. Some of them are found abundantly in animal products but very little in plant products.

During pregnancy, proteins are used to “build” the fetus; it is the “base material”. It is essential to make sure you have a variety of foods that contain different types of amino acids in good quantities, especially the “limiting” amino acids.

Soy is a food of choice for vegans since it is a source of so-called complete proteins. Tofu, soy or soybeans are key foods that provide adequate protein intake.

Nuts, seeds and legumes should also be part of the diet to supplement protein intake.

It is not necessary to combine these foods with cereals at each meal. A variety of foods should be consumed throughout the day, not necessarily at the same meal for this to be effective. The solution? Eating different protein sources at each meal in good quantities and with each snack during the day. Also, drinking fortified soy beverages to replace dairy products is a good solution.


Dietitians of Canada. Vegetarianism background. In PEN : practice-based evidence in nutrition®. Last update: Feb 21, 2012. Access only by subscription.

Position of the American dietetic association: Vegetarian diet. (2009). Journal of the Academy of nutrition and dietetics. Volume 109, Issue 7, Pages 1266-1282, July.

Shils, M.E., Shike, M., Ross, C., Caballero, B. & Cousins, R. (2006). Modern nutrition in health and diseases (10th ed.). Philadelphia, United States of America: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Diététistes du Canada. (2010).Lignes directrices en matière d’alimentation pour les végétaliens.

Extenso. (2012).Les protéines : au cœur du régime végétarien.


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