We want to have children, but we’re vegan! Some people wonder how being vegan will affect their ability to conceive. The good news is that a healthy plant-based diet can actually help fertility.
Let’s start with the men. Meat, especially processed meat, has a detrimental effect on male fertility. The more meat a man eats, the fewer and less active his sperm. To dispel a myth, vegan men have the same testosterone levels as meat eaters. To dispel another myth, consuming soy does not affect testosterone levels in men. Boys raised on soy protein formulas showed no breast growth, no early puberty, no changes in their bones and no other signs of hormonal abnormalities. Vegan men have much less risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Vegetarian men produce 29 million more sperm per milliliter and the sperm are more active compared to meat-eaters, so a veg diet can definitely help with fertility.
Vegan women too have hormone levels comparable to those of meat-eaters. Vegan pregnancy has some advantages too. For instance, pregnant vegan women have a reduced risk of complications such excessive gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and gallstones. Pregnant women following a well-planned plant-based diet also have a reduced risk of an infant being born with spina bifida, whereas a high meat diet doubles the risk of a baby being born with a cleft palate.
What about those turning to invitro fertilization? It turns out that eating plant protein increases the chance of pregnancy in IVF. Also a Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil and low in red meat, has been shown to increase the chance of a successful pregnancy, so a healthy plant-based diet can make a big difference.
Many vegan men and women are fertile and give birth to healthy babies. Congratulations to them all!