Is breast milk considered vegan in the UK? It’s a question worth exploring. When answering the question “Is breast milk vegan UK?” there are a variety of facets that will need to be looked at, along with an understanding of what veganism is as a means to answer the question.
Is Breast Milk Vegan?
So, let’s cut right to the chase.
The answer to the previously posed question is yes. Breast milk is vegan!
But how can that be? Don’t vegans avoid all milk and milk-containing products?
Well, no actually.
Veganism, by definition, is a lifestyle marked by the compassion of individuals towards animals. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including the avoidance of meat and dairy along with the avoidance of zoos, the purchasing of leather and more. This will extend to purchasing baby products, so even vegan plasters like those found on our site are often much appreciated by vegan parents.
Vegans will also avoid foods like honey, eggs, shellfish and products derived from insects, such as some food colourings, in order to adhere to a strict vegan lifestyle.
Bearing this in mind, the key to answering the question about breast milk is to understand that veganism is about respecting the rights of animals and not taking advantage of their vulnerable state. It is about avoiding the exploitation of animals and not harming them in any way.
Turning back now to the original question concerning the consumption of a human baby and his or her mother’s milk, it may be easier to understand why breast milk is considered a vegan byproduct. By feeding your baby breast milk, no animals are being harmed in the process.
Sure, humans are considered mammals, and as such, some may consider humans “animals” in a sense, but you have permission in and of yourself to feed your own baby. Nothing is being done to you against your will, as may be the case for an animal who cannot speak for themselves when being used for its milk, fur, skin and so forth.
In addition to the above, every mammal species creates its own milk specially formulated for its baby. Goat milk will have the essential nutrients for a baby goat. Cow milk will be specially formulated for a baby cow. And it is well-known and documented that breast milk, by and large, is the absolute best milk for human babies for their growth, development and overall health. It is for that reason that it is often affectionately referred to by doctors as “liquid gold”.
Does Vegan Diet Affect Breast Milk?
So, will the vegan diet actually affect breast milk?
Yes it will. But so will all other diets, including those that include meat products.
Whenever a mother takes up breastfeeding, it is always of the utmost importance that she maintains a well-balanced and intentional diet. This could look a variety of ways, including taking prenatals or meeting with a doctor to examine the mother’s current diet and making adjustments where needed.
When compared to a meat-eating mother, however, the composition of the breast milk itself will not change, and the baby will still receive the much needed nutrients that he or she needs to grow and develop.
What do vegans need to eat in order to ensure that their breast milk isn’t affected? Like non-vegans, vegans who breastfeed will need to take in ample amounts of iron, Vitamin B12, calcium and zinc. Although it is likely that the vegan in this situation already knows the importance of these nutrients to her diet, it is crucial that vegan mothers get these nutrients all the more at the onset of nursing.
The aforementioned Vitamin B12, calcium, zinc and iron can be found in other sources besides prenatals. Dark leafy greens, lentils, mushrooms, fortified non-dairy milks and cereals will all contain the nutrients necessary to help support a healthy breastfeeding journey.
Vegans can even check out vegan lactation cookies and teas to help boost their milk supply and to get the added nutrients they need to nourish themselves and their babies. You can buy lactation tea in the UK.
What Do Vegans Give Their Babies Instead of Milk?
There may be instances when a mother simply cannot breastfeed, or chooses not to, based on a variety of reasons. While we won’t go into those reasons here, it is important to note that there aren’t a ton of options available to vegan mothers who are unable to use their own breast milk to feed their babies and toddlers.
There are a few formulas available for infants, but some are not recommended because of their soy-containing content and also for the fact that they aren’t technically deemed vegan to begin with.
Beyond 6 months of age, soy formula is okay to use, but again, these types of formulas created aren’t usually exclusively vegan.
Past the age of a year, the vegan pool opens up and vegan mothers may begin to explore a variety of fortified vegan milks and toddler drinks in an effort to get those vitamins we mentioned earlier into their toddler’s vegan diet.
Not all milks are created equal, however, and some choices may be healthier than others depending on your child’s nutritional needs, overall health and lifestyle. For milk alternatives check out our post, Vegan Baby Milk Alternatives.
And if you’re wondering what milk is equivalent to breast milk, you should remember that breast milk is the number one source of nutrition for littles, and especially vegan babies. There is no equivalent.
Therefore, when and if you can, always use breast milk until your baby is of the age when he or she can consume vegan milks and foods as a substitution, which generally isn’t until the child is between 1-2 years of age.
If you must feed your baby regular formula, go ahead if you wish. And then make the switch to a vegan lifestyle once your baby is of the right age to do so, usually around 12 months. To weigh the advantages and disadvantages of breastmilk and formula, read more on our blog!
Breast Milk FAQs
Is Breast Milk Dairy?
Yes. The question of “Is breast milk dairy-free” is a common one, and the answer is, no it is not. Breast milk contains lactase which is a type of sugar found in all milks produced by mammals. But even though breast milk is considered dairy, it really doesn’t make a difference when it comes to a vegan mother feeding her baby for the reasons already mentioned within this article.
Can Vegans Use Breast Milk?
Vegans can use breast milk in a variety of ways, so long as they have the donor’s permission before doing so. Bear in mind, however, that using breast milk yourself, for whatever reasons, may pose a risk to you if you are unsure of the health of the donor who provides it. The decision to consume breast milk or breast milk containing products should only be made with caution in mind.
Breast Milk Is the Best Choice For Vegan Mums and Babies
All in all, the consumption of breast milk for babies is, by far, the best milk choice, especially in the realm of veganism.
Though non-vegan mums have a multitude of options to choose from concerning baby formula and the like for their little ones, the truth is that vegan mums have limited options when it comes to fulfilling the nutritional needs of their babies.
As such you can rest assured that breast milk is vegan and is the recommended source of nutrition for all vegan babies.
Want more information? Check out Healthline’s article on why breastmilk is considered vegan or take a peek at PETA’s stamp of approval on breastmilk for vegan babies.