Plant-based and craving meat? Guess what! It’s totally normal to have crazy food cravings during pregnancy and it doesn’t mean you need to ditch your plant-based diet.
Do Pregnancy Cravings Mean You Have A Nutrient Deficiency?
It’s a huge misconception that your body craves specific foods for the nutrients they contain. We often think that cravings for meat are your body’s way of telling you that you need more iron or protein, but research doesn’t support this theory.
In fact, the only established nutrient-deficiency related craving is the association between cravings for ice and a lack of iron. So, if you find yourself desperately wanting to munch on ice chips or other non-nutritive substances like paper or dirt (yes, it’s a thing), you may be experiencing a condition known a pica, related to low iron stores.
Think about it this way– when you’re craving something salty, what do you usually gravitate toward? Typically it’s chips, crackers, french fries and not roasted veggies with sea salt or seaweed.
Or when you want something sweet — do you crave fresh fruit? Or is it more likely that your brain wants ice cream, cookies, or chocolate?
Studies show that 50-90% of pregnant women experience cravings for specific foods and these are usually high-sugar and high-fat foods, not nutrient-dense foods. If meat cravings meant that our bodies really just needed protein or iron, then lentils or oats would do the trick.
What Causes Pregnancy Cravings?
Research shows that cravings are more likely emotionally charged. Most people crave comfort food, things they ate in the past that brought them happiness.
Did your pre-plant-based self enjoy steak or do you have fond memories of eating happy meals with your family? If so, then that’s more likely the root of your cravings – not a need for the nutrients in meat, which you can easily find in other, kinder, food options.
On the flip side, many omnivorous women actually experience an aversion to meat and animal products during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. This is thought to be an evolutionary response crafted to protect the developing fetus from pathogens, which are more likely to be found in meat than in other non-animal foods.
The PBJ Bottomline
If all of a sudden you’re craving meat during pregnancy, it’s not because you’re missing out on certain nutrients, or because you’re a bad vegan or vegetarian – it’s totally normal. Try filling your cravings with other comforting foods or enjoying a plant-based alternative to your craving. If you want a burger, try an Impossible Burger. If you’re craving cream cheese, grab a tub of Kite Hill!
Did you/do you have any crazy pregnancy cravings? Share below!