The Dr. Brewer Pregnancy Diet
Vegetarian Versions of the Brewer Diet
The Diet
Weekly Record
Special Needs
No-Risk Diet
Weight Gain
Bed Rest
Herbal Diuretics
Twin Pregnancy
The Twin Diet
Premature Labor
Blood Pressure
Mistaken Diagnoses
Underweight Babies
Gestational Diabetes
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Registry II
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"The Brewer Vegetarian Diets for Pregnancy: Two Safe Alternatives"

Special Health Alert!

For those of you who live North of the equator and are entering a season of hot and humid weather and increased outdoor activity, please be aware that extra loss of salt (through sweat) and extra burning of calories can trigger a falling blood volume with a resulting rising BP, and other pre-eclampsia symptoms.

For those of you who live South of the equator and are entering the cold winter season, please be aware that many homes and work environments are over-heated (with very dry air) and may cause you to lose salt and fluids in the same way as hot weather does. And shoveling snow or working out in a gym burns extra calories. These losses might also lead to a falling blood volume, and its accompanying complications, just as the summer heat and activity can. So please be watchful and care for your personally unique needs for salt and fluids, as well as your unique needs for calories and protein.

Please see the "Special Needs" page and the bottom of the "Weekly Record" page for ideas on how to compensate for these losses and thus help yourself to prevent pre-eclampsia and other complications related to low blood volume. Please see the "FAQ" page for information about why just drinking extra water probably won't be enough to keep your blood volume adequately expanded for an optimally healthy pregnancy.

The following is reprinted from The Brewer Medical Diet for Normal and High-Risk Pregnancy (first published in 1983), excerpted from the chapter titled "The Brewer Vegetarian Diets for Pregnancy: Two Safe Alternatives", (p. 56)

Pregnancy makes the same nutritional demands of vegetarian prospective mothers as it does of nonvegetarians. The only difference is that the vegetarian mother meets her needs a different way.

If you are a vegetarian, you will probably have to be even more conscientious about your daily food choices than someone who eats meat. If you are a strict vegetarian who uses no animal products (no milk, cheese, butter, eggs, or meat), your diet must be very carefully managed to ensure that you obtain from other sources everything that those foods commonly contribute to the standard diet, including calories.

Happily, these requirements pose no great problem for most vegetarians once they learn about them. Most vegetarians we know are already thoughtful, concerned, and dedicated to excellent nutrition. That's why they become vegetarians in the first place!

Depending on who's defining the term, a "vegetarian" could be a person who:
  • eats nothing of animal origin (vegan),
  • eats eggs and milk products in addition to plant foods (lacto-ovo vegetarian),
  • eats seafood, eggs, and milk products, but abstains from meat and poultry (semi-vegetarians),
  • eats poultry, seafood, eggs, and milk products in addition to plant foods, but abstains from red meat,
  • eats at least 50 percent of all food raw and abstains from meat, poultry, and seafood (Bircher-Benner),
  • eats only whole foods and abstains from all animal products (hygienist)
  • eats mainly grains, beans, and vegetables, according to their balance of yin and yang, with minimal amounts of animal products and few fruits (macrobiotic),
  • eats only raw foods, with an emphasis on sprouts, and no animal products (sproutarian),
  • eats only nuts, fruits, vegetables, and seeds that have fallen on their own from a plant (fruitarian).
  • In addition, certain groups of vegetarians may hold other health or religious/philosophical beliefs and engage in other health practices that affect their overall nutritional status. Water fasting, juice fasting, colonic irrigation, the use of herbs, roots, barks, grasses, and flowers in teas or as foods themselves, and the restriction of protein to a predetermined (low) level are examples of such activities. All need to be carefully reviewed for their safety in pregnancy.

    Looking from a broad cultural and historical perspective, one has to conclude that some vegetarian regimens must be compatible with healthy pregnancy. The world over, people have chosen combinations of local foods that have been sufficiently nutritious to sustain life, even without meat. In countries with a peasant tradition, for instance, meat has been far the most part a luxury item, and staple foods are of plant origin. The familiar pasta with tomato sauce, so closely identified with southern Italian cuisine, is one example. In countries influenced by traditional Catholic practice, there have always been long stretches of the year when people abstain from meat. Hindus, Buddhists, and some Seventh Day Adventists eat no meat.

    A rich legacy of meatless cooking is ours as the result of these and similar observances. However, we must keep in mind that other products of animal origin, such as milk products, eggs, and seafood, were in daily use. These are concentrated sources of protein and calories, both of which we have seen are necessary for successful pregnancy.

    If you choose, for whatever reason, to restrict your range of acceptable foods to those that come from plants alone, you have set yourself a very difficult, but not impossible, task in pregnancy: how to reconcile your nutrition preferences with your new, escalated nutritional requirements. It can be done, but it will take a very big commitment on your part.

    Because we have found that the two general categories of vegetarians (those who use some animal products and those who don't) require different dietary planning, we modify our Basic Plan from Chapter 2 into vegetarian plans 1 and 2. Individuals who include seafood or poultry in their diets should refer to the Basic Plan since it contains food exchanges for those selections. For the purposes of this book, we consider that they have cut out certain kinds of animal protein, but are not vegetarians. Vegetarian Plan 1 includes milks, egg, butter, and cheese--foods of animal origin. Vegetarian Plan 2 is exclusively plant food. Both plans provide the same quality of nutrition, and are comparable in every way, to the food exchanges in the Basic Plan.

    Are there any vegetarian diets that should not be followed in pregnancy? (p. 105)

    Vegetarian or not, if you're pregnant you shouldn't follow any diet that fails to meet your increased nutritional needs. A quick review of the fruitarian diet, the brown-rice-only diet (level 7 macrobiotic, as advocated by George Oshawa, also sometimes called the Zen macrobiotic diet, which is the diet that gave all macrobiotics a bad name), any monodiet consisting of only one or two foods, and most raw-food-only diets should show that there is no way they can be made adequate for pregnancy. For any other diet, just compare the listed components with the groups on either our Lacto-Ovo Plan (Vegetarian Diet #1) or Vegan Plan (Vegetarian Diet #2) to see if what's being proposed measures up to your requirements. If not, don't fool with it unless you are prepared to court serious health problems for yourself and your unborn baby.

    Lacto-Ovo Brewer Pregnancy Diet (click for details)

    Individuals who use milk, milk products, and eggs--lacto-ovo vegetarians--should have, every day, at least:

    Group 1 (milk and milk products)--4 choices
    Group 2 (calcium replacements)--as needed
    Group 3 (eggs)--2 choices
    Group 4 (protein sources)--6 to 8 choices
    Group 5 (dark green vegetables)--2 choices
    Group 6 (whole grains, starchy vegetables & fruits)--5 choices
    Group 7 (vitamin C sources)--3 choices
    Group 8 (fats and oils)--5 choices
    Group 9 (vitamin A sources)--2 choices
    Group 10 (liver)--Omit on this plan (See Group 14)
    Group 11 (salt and sodium sources)--unlimited, to taste
    Group 12 (water)--unlimited, to thirst
    Group 13 (snacks)--unlimited, to appetite
    Group 14 (supplements)--5 choices

    Vegan Brewer Pregnancy Diet (click for details)

    Individuals who use no animal products whatever (vegan) should have, every day, at least:

    Group 1 (fortified soy milk)--4 choices
    Group 2 (calcium replacement)--2 per unfortified soy choice
    Group 3 (eggs)--Omit on this plan (see Groups 4,9,&14)
    Group 4 (protein sources)--6 to 8 choices
    Group 5 (dark green vegetables)--2 choices
    Group 6 (whole grains and starchy vegetables)--5 choices
    Group 7 (vitamin C sources)--4 choices
    Group 8 (fats and oils)--9 choices
    Group 9 (vitamin A sources)--4 choices
    Group 10 (liver)--Omit on this plan (see Group 14)
    Group 11 (salt and sodium sources)--unlimited, to taste
    Group 12 (water)--unlimited, to thirst
    Group 13 (snacks)--unlimited, to appetite
    Group 14 (supplements)--6 choices

    The Brewer Medical Diet for Normal and High-Risk Pregnancy available here

    See here for more information on the links between prematurity & low birth weight, and inadequate prenatal nutrition

    For any questions please e-mail us at:

    Brewer Pregnancy Diet