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baby formula

This week’s question was from the Council, to the Council:

“One of our Council members was wondering about baby formula: it appears that there aren’t any vegan versions out there, at least where she lives, since the vitamin D is derived from lanolin (wool) in all of the otherwise vegan varieties. Is anyone aware of a vegan brand that might have been missed, and if not, or in addition to it, what are some alternatives you’ve used or considered?”

OK, before we get to the Council’s advice, here’s the basics from our research on the internet: as of the time of this writing (March 2010,) there are no fully vegan infant formulas.

The only ones that comes up online at all are a brand called Farley’s and Heinz’s Nurture line’s Soya product, both of which were offered in the UK. Both appear to have been Vegan Society approved, but that’s because they’re the same product: Heinz bought Farley’s.

Before those of you outside the UK start calculating what are sure to be insane shipping fees, we’ve got some more bad news: unfortunately, it appears that as of February 2010, the line has been discontinued.

So what’s a vegan parent to do if breastfeeding isn’t an option?

Do your best

Julie had this to say on the matter: “I’m not aware of any vegan formulas, and I’m pretty sure the conclusion in Raising Vegetarian Children is that there aren’t any (or at least there weren’t at the time that the book was published.)

“We’ve been fortunate to never need formula, since both of our kids seem to be champion nursers, but if we found ourselves in a situation where we needed it, I think this would fall pretty easily in the ‘do the best we can’ category, meaning I’d be more than willing to overlook the non-vegan vitamin D if that’s what it took to be able to feed my kid. They can’t grow up to be world-influencingly awesome vegans themselves if they don’t get the nutrition they need as babies, so one way or another their survival and thriving is my top priority.”

Examine other breastfeeding options

I’m no expert on the subject, but as Linda writes, there are people who are. Consult with a local La Leche League group or the IBCLC to see if there are ways to overcome whatever’s preventing you from breastfeeding.

I’m already well outside my areas of knowledge (thank you Council!) and this takes things even further, but Linda also mentioned the possibility of human milk banks, which wouldn’t necessarily be from a vegan woman, but may be worth considering.

Plan for the future generations

As Elaine put it, “we should probably all be contacting baby formula makers and asking for a vegan version. If we do, it won’t be long before a truly vegan baby formula will be readily available in mainstream US stores. Sometimes, I think, being a good vegan parent isn’t just about what we do for and with our children, it’s about acting like a parent for future generations of children so that other parents won’t have to make the kinds of compromises we have to make now.”

With that in mind, here are the contact addresses for some of the major formula makers. If I missed any (and that’s very likely,) please contact us and I’ll update the post.

If you’re looking for your activism action of the week, getting in touch with these companies and politely asking them to market a vegan-friendly formula (INCLUDING vitamin D2 instead of D3) wouldn’t be a bad way to spend your time. Here are links to the various contact forms:

Thanks to Elaine, Steph, Julie, Pippi, and Linda for their help on this one!

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