Can I follow a vegetarian diet while breastfeeding?

Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

Absolutely! A vegetarian diet that is well balanced and varied, is nutritionally adequate at all stages of life including while breastfeeding. However, ensure that you are enjoying a wide variety of foods such as whole grains, beans, lentils, soy, nuts, seeds, dairy/dairy alternatives, heart-healthy fats in adequate amounts to meet your nutritional needs. A registered dietitian specializing in vegetarian nutrition would be a valuable source. It is also a good idea to continue taking your prenatal supplements.

If you have chosen to follow a vegetarian diet, you can continue to follow this diet while breastfeeding. Make sure you are consuming enough calories, protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D and zinc. It’s also important to make sure that your vitamin B12 intake is adequate. This vitamin is only found in animal products. A B12 vitamin supplement is recommended for mothers on strict “vegan” diets who avoid eggs, milk products and meat products.

Continue Learning about Vegetarian Diets

Vegetarian Diets

When you look at vegetarian diets, it's hard to do so without understanding that many of the practitioners believe that it is not only healthful, but more to practice vegetarianism. This is true even if the diet may include occasi...

onal meats or fish as in the Macrobiotic diet with it's Zen beliefs, or the Indian Ayurvedic diet, which finds milk and dairy central to good health along with plants. Anyone considering a vegetarian diet should learn about the food values of different vegetables, and consider getting advice on whether or not to supplement the diet with vitamins and minerals, particularly if you have special nutritional needs like growing children or pregnant or lactating women.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.