Supporting vegans through pregnancy and lactation
This article gathers the current knowledge base around veganism and plant-based diets in pregnancy and infant feeding, to explore how midwives can better support the increasing numbers of women and families who are embracing a plant-based lifestyle. People who identify as vegan are becoming increasingly common. There has also been an increase in ‘flexitarianism’ and those adopting plant-based diets for health and/or environmental reasons. There is a need to consolidate the nutritional guidance, to enable better and more consistent evidence-based support for these groups.
The number of British people who identify as vegan has quadrupled in the last five years (The Vegan Society, 2019). Indications are that nearly half of the vegans in the UK made the change in 2018 (Vegan Trade Journal, 2018), suggesting that veganism is not only growing, but growing rapidly. Vegans represent a small minority, constituting only 1.16% of the population (The Vegan Society, 2019) but there has been a rise in interest in ‘flexitarianism’ (Table 1) and a reduction in the consumption of meat and dairy products more generally over recent years (YouGov, 2019). Supermarkets in the UK are reporting substantial increases in the demand for plant-based options (Lupica, 2017; Sainsbury's, 2019), with Sainsbury's noting a 65% increase in sales of plant-based products year-on-year, and predicting that a quarter of Britons will identify as vegetarian by 2025 and half will identify as flexitarian (Sainsbury's, 2019). There is a need for midwives to consider the current research around nutritional guidance for this fast-growing group, in order to provide up-to-date, evidence-based direction.
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