First launched a decade ago, the Veganuary campaign had convinced half a million people to adopt plant-based eating by January 2021, almost double the number that had pledged to go vegan for January in 2019.
According to the Sainsbury’s Future of Food report, vegetarians and vegans will make up a quarter of the population by 2025. Individuals adopt a vegan diet for various reasons, including concerns about the environment, animal welfare, and personal health. While reducing animal product intake has proven health benefits, complete elimination may pose risks of nutrient deficiencies, potentially affecting fertility.
What are the pros of a vegan diet for fertility?
- Eating plant-based foods means an increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans that can positively impact fertility, providing essential nutrients such as antioxidants, fibre, and B vitamins.
- Increased vegetable protein intake by opting for plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, instead of animal protein. This may reduce ovulatory infertility
- Better gut health: A well-planned vegan diet rich in fibre supports healthy digestion and contributes to a balanced microbiome. This, in turn, may regulate hormones associated with fertility-related conditions.
What are the cons of a vegan diet for fertility?
- Consumption of vegan ‘junk food’ – although these products may be marketed as healthy alternatives, many vegan options are highly processed, containing excess salt, preservatives, and fewer vitamins and fibre. Quality, rather than mere balance, is crucial for fertility.
- A poorly planned vegan diet can result in nutrient deficiencies, and this is potentially the most significant impact on fertility. Common nutrient deficiencies in a vegan diet include vitamin B12 and iron. Iron from plant sources is poorly absorbable, and a deficiency can affect both male and female fertility. Vitamin B12, found exclusively in animal products, plays a crucial role in DNA production. Deficiencies in these nutrients can negatively impact fertility.
Current research doesn’t conclusively support the idea that eliminating animal products positively influences fertility. Some studies even suggest potential benefits of certain animal products, like dairy, in female fertility. Therefore, adopting a well-balanced diet containing both plant and animal products may be a prudent approach.
Other steps to take include supplementation of essential nutrients, embracing fortified products and enhancing iron absorption by pairing iron-rich vegetables with vitamin C-rich foods or supplements which can aid absorption.
Please visit our Support Hub for information on Fertility Nutritionists that can give you advice on a vegan-friendly fertility diet plan. If you have more questions about preparing for your fertility treatment, call +44 (0) 203 263 6025 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org on to book a consultation.