Is Breast Milk Vegan?

Is Breast Milk Vegan or Not, and Why? 

Being a vegan mom comes with more challenges than the average parent. One of these major challenges involves raising a baby.

We want the best for our child, but may be faced with daunting questions such as "is breast milk vegan-approved?"

After reading this research, you can rest easy knowing that you will make the best choices to ensure your vegan child is well taken care of.​

Let's begin!

So, Is Breast Milk Considered Vegan Or Not?

There has been a lot of contention about this very simple question from both vegans and non-vegans alike.

On the one hand, breast milk is clearly from an animal, which would not qualify it as being vegan. But being vegan is much more than not being from animals.

Being a vegan, a large aspect of your beliefs originate from an ethical standpoint; to not subject animals to torture for personal gain.

Breast milk is not a "forced" nutrition such as when extracting from a cow, but something embedded in a mother's DNA to provide for her young, just like all other mammals.

So, to clarify, yes, breastmilk should be considered vegan [1], since there are no ethical or moral clashes in providing quality nutrition for your child.

What If I'm Vegan and I Don't Produce Enough Milk For My Baby?

Low milk production is not a scenario exclusive to vegan moms, though we can understand if you were panicked that your dietary choices were responsible for it.

Low milk production is more frequently associated with insufficient frequency of milk extraction/feeding, or related to an underlying condition such as mastitis or engorged ducts, making poor milk production often associated with poor delivery [2].

Regardless of the cause, stimulation helps a lot, especially when used in conjunction with natural galactagogues [3].

We recommend Milkdrunk for helping to boost milk production and also supplying important protein to your diet, or Milkflow, a refreshing drink mix for use any time of the day.

Is Breast Milk Dairy?

This is news to many people, but as long as the milk comes from a mammal [4] - it is considered dairy.

Traditionally we have been conditioned to believe that dairy products/ milk originated from cows only, but human breast milk is every bit as dairy as cow's milk.

Regardless, keep in mind that breastmilk is best for your child; at such a tender age you should avoid giving you baby substitutes unless advised by a physician.

Is My Breast Milk Safe For My Child If I'm Vegan?

is vegan breastfeeding safe

Absolutely. 

Breast milk, regardless of if you are living a vegan lifestyle or not, is the best nutrition for your baby. Breast milk contains all the essential nutrients for a growing child, and is the recommended form of nutrition whenever possible.

It is, however, your responsibility to ensure that you consume a balanced diet and get the necessary nutrients that will passed through breast milk to your baby [5].

Will My Baby Be Vegan If I Breastfeed?

Yes, breastfeeding your baby will not break your nutritional belief system, it is simply a matter of giving your child what is best for them.​

Nobody in their right mind would argue with a mother that breastfeeds her child exclusively as long as is deemed necessary.

In some cases, vegan babies actually need to be breastfed longer than non-vegan kids [6], as it is a critical source of essential nutrients for the growing child.

Should I Give My Baby Soy Or Other Plant-Based Milk?

soy milk and breastfeeding

Soy based formula should not be considered real "milk" and is far from ideal when administering to a young baby.

Breastmilk is the preferred source of nutrition [7], so instead of replacing it with soy milk, a more sensible plan of action would be to start supplementing your child with it as they grow older.

But do not replace breastmilk altogether.

Starting from the age of 6 months and up, you can start adding alternative types of milk, but do not withdraw breast milk completely.

These plant-based milks contain needed amino acids with a little carbohydrate and fat, but do not contain the important immune modulating proteins.

Is Breast Milk From A Vegan The Same As Breast Milk From Non-Vegans?

For the most part, breast milk from a vegan is the same as that produced by a non-vegan, given that the vegan mother takes nutrition seriously [8] in order to meet nutritional requirements.

Just after birth, breast milk is of a thinner consistency, but as the child grows, breast milk becomes richer, as it contains more fat for the developing brain of the child. Besides that, breast milk shows no differences based on dietary feeding patterns.

Is Breast Milk From A Vegan Lower In Protein?

While being a vegan may make it more challenging for you to meet your daily protein recommendations, there are lots of options for you to meet your goals.

​Plus, coupled with vegan protein supplements, this hardly becomes an issue for the baby [9].

The consistency of breast milk only varies based on the age of the baby, not on your dietary preferences.

Is Vegan Breast Milk Safe For My Lactose Intolerant Child?

Breast milk, like that from all other mammals, contains lactose as a natural component of it.​

However, the good news is that the vast majority of babies are born free of lactose intolerances or lactose based allergies.

The small minority that are born with intolerance tend to be as a result of genetic traits passed down from two lactose intolerant parents [10].

Lactose intolerance in a baby manifests as frequent flatulence, or loose stools with a characteristic green, foamy appearance.

How Long Should A Vegan Breastfeed Her Child?

There should be no imposed limit to breastfeeding.

However, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended from birth to the age of 6 months, after which it is a good habit to start including semi-solid food.

From this point, it is not unusual to breastfeed to the age of 2 years [11] and beyond, as breastmilk still remains a nutritional powerhouse for a growing child.

Is Banked Milk Considered Vegan?

Have you ever heard of banked milk?​

Banked milk is a popular growing volunteer service around the world, whereby lactating moms donate pumped breast milk for babies that require it but may be unable to get it for one reason or another [12].

To be clear, all breast milk should be considered vegan, as the women that supply the milk are all mothers that willingly gave theirs to help ensure babies get their nutritional requirements.​

If you find yourself unable to breastfeed your baby for one reason or another, and are vegan, there is no reason for you to avoid a milk bank as the milk is as good as yours.

However, it is important to realize that bank milk isn't necessarily free. In some localities, it is very expensive and maybe a barrier in itself.

If you do have problems with milk supply, and can afford the bank, then by all means use it.

How Can I Fortify My Breast Milk Being A Vegan?

Being a vegan means that you will be faced with unique nutritional difficulties, especially when it comes to ensuring that you meet your Vitamin B12, Calcium and Iron needs [13].

Foods typically rich in these nutrients are found abundantly in animal products, unless you specifically included vegan-friendly foods that are known to be good sources of these. Therefore, your best option is to rely on supplements that ensure you meet your daily requirements.

When breastfeeding, it is essential that you milk provide sufficient amounts of these nutrients which are critical in the development of your child.

Is Vegan Breast Milk A Brain Food?

brain food

Breast milk is advised over many synthetic milk formulas owing to the fact that it supplies important fat necessary for the rapidly growing brain of your child.

Of particular importance are the omega-3 fats such as DHA [14], which non-vegans easily obtain from consumption of fatty fish.

As a vegan mother, your options are flax [15] and chia seeds, both of which are excellent sources of this important fat for your baby’s brain health.

Are Breastfed Vegan Babies More Likely To Get Sick?

sick baby

No, and looking at it from an epidemiological standpoint, babies born to vegan mothers are actually less likely to get sick.​

Vegans already consume a greater than average portion of vegetables and fruits, which help to fortify the baby's developing gut and immune system.

Citrus fruits in particular, thanks to their generous bioflavonoid content, when consumed by a vegan mother are likely to reduce the incidence of asthma and other respiratory illnesses[16], as well as helping with the supply of important vitamin C.

Though there was a sensationalized story about a baby born to vegan parents dying from illness due to malnutrition, this was brought about in significant part because of the extreme views of the parents.​

These included self-diagnosed lactose and gluten allergies, and substitution of breast milk with quinoa milk.

Vegan Moms That Breastfeed Are Ahead Of The Pack In Raising A Healthy Kid - Much Of The Time

Traditional non-vegan diets tend to emphasize the importance of cow's milk as a child grows.

However, while this is an honorable attempt at good nutrition, you would be hard-pressed to find an average family that realizes they are actually doing this child an injustice; both in the short and long terms.

Looking at it now, diets high in calcium tend to be more likely to result in anemia, due to the competition between calcium and iron for absorption. Calcium is preferentially absorbed, and iron ends up excreted as an inactive salt.

Studies have even shown that adults who consume more than average dairy milk from cows also have a greater risk of developing type 2 insulin resistant diabetes [17].

Vegan moms know and appreciate the importance of supplemental vitamins and minerals for blood building and tend to raise healthier kids.

Conclusion

Breast milk from vegan mothers is not only undoubtedly vegan-approved, but also extremely nutritious for your baby.

As long as you fulfill your nutritional obligations, the vegan breast milk is equivalent to those from non-vegans, and even superior when you take into account the lengths some moms go to ensure their diet is top notch.

Poor milk production doesn't need to bog you down if you regularly stimulate lactation, and coupled with our recommended galactagogues, usually rectify the problems.

Give your child the best - the mother's breast!

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