Are Baby Formulas Available for Vegetarian Families?
Posted by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services on Sep 4th 2019
Ask the Dietician: How do you find a formula that supports your vegetarian lifestyle?
Families choose the vegetarian lifestyle for various reasons. Some choose to become vegetarian for environmental, ethical and/or health reasons. You may relate to some of these reasons or may have different reasons altogether. Living as a vegetarian can be tricky at times, and can get even more complicated when you have a child. If you’re formula feeding, how do you find a formula that supports your vegetarian lifestyle?
At the present time, the only non-soy, organic, plant-based, vegetarian, complete nutrition formula available is Baby’s Only Organic Pea Protein Toddler Formula.
In this formula, and to our knowledge, all formulas in the USA, use Vitamin D derived from the lanolin of sheep’s wool. As noted in my Vitamin D blog post, Vitamin D3 is the preferred source of this important nutrient needed for strong bones and teeth. One question to ask is if the sheep are treated well and the lanolin is sourced from the wool of live sheep, and in this case, yes, to both questions. For vegans, a pea-based formula can also be an option depending upon how the person feels about their use of ethically sourced animal products such as those derived from wool.
Because formula is often the primary source of nutrition for an infant or young child, it is critical to ensure the formula contains all of the right biologically available nutrients in the proper amounts. For this reason, other plant-based types of beverages such as soy milk, coconut milk, or almond milk should not be used for children less than 1 year of age because they do not contain or lack the needed amount of nutrients the infant needs to develop normally. These beverages probably also would not be the best alternative for a toddler depending upon the toddler’s overall daily diet. These alternative “milks” may be void of needed nutrients such as calcium or iron and the protein content may not be adequate to meet growth and development needs. It’s always good to check with a local registered dietitian or nutritionist if you are considering use of these alternative beverages.
One factor to consider is the heavy metal content of plant-based protein sources. For example, a rice-based formula would be ideal as it is considered non-allergenic. However, the heavy metal content, like arsenic, offsets any advantage. At Nature’s One, we’ve been researching alternative plant-based and combinations of plant-based sources, and our work continues yet today. As you may have noted on our website, we now offer our pea protein toddler formula, a suitable plant-based protein tested for heavy metals and other contaminants. Check out the Clean Label Project’s website. This Project performs tests for contaminants and heavy metals. They have specifically noted Nature’s One products for their purity.
Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call 888-227-7122 should you have any additional questions about the use of a pea protein-based formula.
**For specific medical care and nutritional advice on product usage, please see your healthcare professional