There is no reason why even strict vegetarians can not have fertility levels equal to meat-eating women, and there is no reason why their pregnancy and the health of their future baby should not be normal. But vegetarians must be aware of their special needs to ensure that they are not compromising their chances to conceive. One of the most important things a vegetarian can do is to identify any nutritional deficiencies that they may have.
If these deficiencies are identified and deal with fertility levels should return to normal.
Vegetarians can be divided into three groups – those who eat eggs, dairy products, and plants; those who eat dairy products and plants; and those who eat only plants. This final group, vegans, obviously has the highest risk factor for having nutritional deficiencies, due to their lack of meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products from their diet.
One of the main problems encountered by all vegetarians is a lack of protein in their diet. Proteins are made up of 21 different amino acids, and of those 21, 9 can not be made in the body. They must come from your diet, or a protein deficiency will result. These 9 amino acids – known collectively as "essential amino acids" – are found in many plants. However, only a few of these essential amino acids can be found in each type of plant, so vegetarians must effectively combine foods in their diet to ensure all essential amino acids are covered. Examples of foods eaten together that compliment each other and contain good quality amino acids: beans and rice, macaroni and cheese, and corn and black-eyed peas.
The more strict a vegetarian is, the more difficult it will be to meet the recommended daily amount of amino acids. But if care is taken to take the right combinations of foods, it can be accomplished.
Another concern for vegetarians is the level of zinc in their diets. Most people obtain the zinc in their diets in animals products. Vegetarians who wish to obtain the required zinc from vegetable sources should try to eat macaroni, potatoes and their skin, black-eyed peas, and green peas – all are good vegetarian sources of zinc. This effort should be supplemented with a daily multivitamin, since consuming the recommended daily amount of zinc through these foods alone would be almost impossible.
Something else that vegetarians need to be aware of are deficiencies in iron and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a problem, in particular, since it is not found in any plant food. Good sources of vitamin B12 include milk, eggs, and fortified breakfast cereal.
A good, daily multivitamin (preferably the prenatal variety) is essential for vegetarians. Consuming the required vitamins and minerals through food alone is unrealistic for vegetarians. Having said that, a diet that is balanced and varied, that contains as many of the fertility enhancers vitamins and minerals as possible, will still be of great benefit to non-meat eaters.