Posts tagged as:

infant formula

Drisdol bottle

Is it just me, or does that dropper look humungous?

Update: Sue reports that the product’s been discontinued – see the comments for more info and other options.

As followup to our parenting columns on Vitamin D (see Vitamin D for Vegan-Raised Infants and Vegan Infant Formula: Nonexistant?) we finally got around to getting some liquid form vitamin D2 in the house (remember kids, D2 is vegan because R2D2 is cool, and ergocalciferol is the good one because I’m vegan, ergo I know more about weird vitamins than anyone on the street!)

Rather than figure out international shipping (as many of you know, we’re in Canada,) we decided to let the professionals figure it out and headed to the pharmacy to order some of the Drisdol drops that Jodie pointed out in a comment on a previous post.)  We basically just printed out the PDF, brought it to the store (in our case, Shopper’s Drug Mart,) and said “get this for us, mmmK?”

And there were no hassles.  I’ll be honest, I felt a little weird custom ordering something from a pharmacy, but apparently it’s something they do all the time, and no prescription is needed.  We got the drops the next afternoon.

Just in case the PDF goes offline, it’s made by Sanofi-Aventis, and the DIN is 02017598. Ours was made in Canada for an American company, so hopefully it’s widely available.

So what’s it cost?

Jodie said it was $68 for her, but we got it for a little under $50 (Canadian.)  That might seem like a lot, but it’s actually pretty competitive with other forms of D2: the cheapest we’ve been able to find Now brand D2 pills (1000 IU strength) is $8 for 120 vcaps, which is 6.7 cents per 1000 IU.  The Drisdol drops come in a 60 mL bottle and each mL has 8,288 IU (there’s a handy dropper that’ll dose out about 207 IU at a time,) so that’s about 10 cents per 1000.  Sure, it adds up, but maybe there’s a difference between liquids and pills.  Who knows.

The Drisdol is almost a third of the price of the D2 spray we mentioned in a previous post (at the price we were charged,) so at this point it’s the cheapest D2 liquid we’ve been able to find, and liquids are pretty much the only way a newborn’s going to take it in, so we’re calling it a win.

Interestingly, if we were to dose the stuff out at 400 IU a day (that’s Health Canada’s recommendation,) we’d have  about a three and a half year supply from this bottle.  Unfortunately, it expires at the end of next year, so I guess Angela and I will start taking drops too to make sure we use it all up in time.

Speaking of which…

So how does it taste?

With such a small range of options available, there’s not a lot you can do if the drops taste like, say, raw sewage, but that’d kinda suck when you’re trying to convince a small child to take them.  Fortunately, we didn’t feel an urge to scrub our tongues with a steel-bristle brush after our taste test.

Angela and I both tried a drop directly on our tongue (the box says to add it to milk, by which I’m sure they mean soy milk, but we wanted to taste it fully.)  It wasn’t bad, but the closest flavour we could compare it to was burning.  It’s definitely something you’ll want to mix into another liquid; probably a sweet liquid at that.

For us, the D2 problem is fully solved.  If you’ve found another solution, or managed to order Drisdol from another country, let us know in the comments!

Drisdol box

(As always, there’s a warning that you should consult with your health care provider before using the product, and we did, so nyah nyah nyah.)


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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