Breastmilk is the number one choice for many new moms, including vegan ones. It contains antibodies that protect babies from infection, plays a role in the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and can lower a child’s risk of developing asthma and allergies later in life. Many vegan mothers are asked if they plan to breastfeed their babies, with the misunderstanding that vegans eschew even human milk. But whether to breastfeed is a choice that humans get to make, while cows and other animals abused for dairy production don’t.
In addition to the various health and environmental benefits of choosing a vegan diet, many vegans choose not to eat animal products because they firmly believe that animals are not ours to use. Like all mammals, a human mother produces milk for the sole purpose of nourishing her baby. So for vegan moms and their babies, there’s no moral contradiction in breastfeeding.
Margie Deutsch Lash, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, says the following:
Mammal milk is species specific. Cow’s milk is for calves. Human milk is for human babies. Each mother makes the perfect food for her baby. The breast milk composition changes as the child grows so that the milk of a mother with a three month old is totally different than the milk this same mother produced when that baby was a newborn. These changes are specifically designed by nature to meet the continuing developmental needs of the child.
Additionally, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) agrees that it’s appropriate for breastfeeding mothers to be vegan:
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.
Vegans can, and often do, breastfeed their babies. And if you’re a breastfeeding mother who has had an epiphany about the cruelty behind the gallon of cow’s milk in the fridge, it’s never too late to make the transition to a healthy—and compassionate—vegan lifestyle for yourself and your family.
Lactation bars are becoming a popular way to boost the supply of breast milk while satisfying cravings for a snack. The Boobie Bar is a vegan lactation bar made of flaxseed, oats, and herbal ingredients. It comes in Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Coconut, and Gluten Free Peanut Butter varieties.
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