Breastfeeding As A Vegan: It Really Can Be Healthy

There has been a lot of controversy as to whether or not veganism is safe if the mother is breastfeeding her child, and the Internet sure does a great job of scaring moms into believing that they could hurt their child with their dietary preferences.

But this is a misconception.

A recent trending story described a mother whose infant had died at 11 months old.

The allegation was that the mother had deprived the baby of nutrients because she was breastfeeding while maintaining a vegan diet.

The story caused an outburst of fear and anger among the breastfeeding community all across the Internet and raised questions as to whether or not this diet was acceptable while feeding your child with your own milk.

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Photo Credit: Bart Everson/Flickr (2.0 by CC)

The story has not only caused outrage towards vegan breastfeeding mothers, it has also called into question whether veganism is acceptable for children in general.

A different story argued that a 12-year-old girl was diagnosed with a degenerative bone disorder due to her veganism.

This story induced a growing opinion that dictates that vegan diets fail to provide adequate vitamins and nutrients.

However, the Mayo Clinic, among others have explained that while a vegan diet limits the foods rich in protein, it does not expel them.

While it may be more challenging to find the right foods to eat, it is not impossible, and many vegans are successfully healthy individuals.

Being vegan does not mean that your child will be nutrient deficient as long as you maintain a healthy diet.

It is the same as any breastfeeding mother’s mantra, if you only eat potato chips and fatty pork loin, you and your child will not receive the right amount of vitamins and nutrients. It is about balance and knowing what foods are healthy; it is not about eating meat.

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Photo Credit: Olearys/Flickr (2.0 by CC)

I spoke with a vegan mother on the topic: she is well educated about veganism and the nutritional value of the foods she eats.

She recently had a baby who prefers his bottle to breastfeeding.

She explained that many babies prefer a bottle because it is much easier for drinking.

Though she may pump regularly, many women still need to use formula to ensure that their infant has enough milk around the clock.

As a vegan, this can be a difficult situation.

There are a few organizations in which women share or donate their breast milk to mothers who are unable to provide enough for their child.

Though it is well regulated, there are always risks with using a stranger’s milk.

If this is not an appealing option, there are many cows’ milk formulas that mothers can use.

However, if you are vegan, it can be challenging to decide whether or not this is an acceptable option.

And if you decide to take advantage of this alternative, it is likely to be ridiculed by other vegans.

So vegan mothers are truly between a rock and a hard place. Breastfeeding has become taboo in our society.

People are offended if a women breastfeeds her child in public, and others are offended if a woman decides not to breastfeed at all.

This communal reprimanding disrupts the personal decisions of a mother and allows others to dictate how a woman should care for her child.

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Photo Credit: Chris Alban Hansen/Flickr (2.0 by CC)

A vegan mother is not depriving her child of nutrients as long as she is healthy, just like any other good mom.

The problem is not veganism as a dietary preference, but rather the amount of information accessible to people for the diet to be healthy.

As society has progressed, information about nutrition has improved and expanded. However, because veganism is a fairly new growing diet in this country, there is less information about nutrition.

A community has flourished online to give people information about the right foods to eat in order to properly support this lifestyle, but overall, this country is seriously lacking in its support for veganism as a whole.

Instead of progressing towards a whole and well-rounded model of vegan nutrition, people have deemed it insufficient and dangerous.

But we aren’t talking about some fleeting cultural fad, we are talking about a dietary life choice, and it should not be negated.

Breastfeeding your child is a personal matter, and the only thing that matters is that your child is well nourished and healthy.

Whether you do it in public, privately, with the nutrients from meat, or something else, the only thing that should matter is that your child is taken care of.

Veganism, just like any other diet with or without restrictions, is safe as long as the individual is well educated and eats in a healthy and nutritional manner.

Instead of reprimanding this quality of our culture, veganism should be studied and vegans should be supported in a way that helps them live healthily.

If society is going to continue to tell women how to eat and feed their babies, they mind as well be educated enough to give intelligent directions.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Liz Davenport/ Flickr (2.0 by CC)

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About the Author
Michele is a Senior Literature major at the University of Colorado Boulder. Michele is especially interested in multiculturalism in current literature. Her other interests include music, especially bluegrass and classic rock and hiking and camping in her home state, Colorado.

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