By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD
Lauren specializes in plant-based living and vegan and vegetarian diets for all ages. She specializes in writing about parenting and a wide variety of health, environmental, and nutrition topics.
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We’re living in an exciting time. More and more people are becoming aware of the impact of food on overall health. We can utilize this powerful information to select not only the safest and healthiest options for ourselves, but also for our families.
While we may have grown up on processed foods and drive-thrus, we want to start our children off on a better foot, and it begins from the moment they are born. Ensuring our children are getting all the proper nutrients to grow and develop is a difficult task. There are plenty of hurdles to overcome whether you breastfeed or formula feed, not the least of which is deciding which method is right for your baby. If you decide to formula feed or to supplement your child’s food with infant formula as they grow, then you also have to decide which formula is best..
Every child is different and will have unique needs when it comes to formula, but if you yourself are vegan, you might be wondering, “is there vegan baby formula available?” We fortunately live in a time where vegan or plant-based formulas are considered the new wave of formulas.
How Safe is Vegan Formula For Babies?
While it may be the right choice for your lifestyle, you may be wondering if vegan baby formula is the safe choice. Any conscious shopper knows that just because something is branded as “vegan” doesn’t necessarily mean it is healthy.
But, how do you weed out the good from the bad? With any formula you feed your baby or toddler it is essential to research its nutritional properties and ingredients to ensure it is safe for your child. To help you navigate the baby formula aisle, we have outlined what makes a dairy-free baby formula safe.
What Makes a Formula Safe?
All baby formulas undergo a thorough process and clinical safety study with the Food and Drug Administration to be approved for consumption. The FDA has set specific ranges for the macronutrients- protein, fat and carbohydrates and minimum requirement concentrations of 29 essential nutrients that must be in baby formula. This strict regulation ensures all formulas on the market are safe for babies to consume.
However, not every formula will be safe for every child. A safe formula should also be free from any ingredients your child may be allergic to. This will vary; one child may be allergic or react poorly to soy while another to nuts and another to lactose. This is why it’s important to research all of a formula’s ingredients before feeding it to your baby or toddler whether it’s soy-based, plant-based, or dairy-based.
The good news is there are a few great vegan and plant-based formulas out there that are also safe. These products are changing the industry standard and bringing alternative options to market to meet more children’s needs and simplify every parent’s choice on finding the best vegan baby formula.
The Benefits of Vegan Formula for Babies
Vegan or plant-based formula opens up a whole new world of possibilities for parents. If your newborn needs an alternative to dairy and soy-based formulas, you don’t have to feel as though you are sacrificing anything. There are many benefits of vegan formula for babies and toddlers in addition to containing all the essential nutrients they need to grow and develop. can rest assured it is not only safe but also favorable for your child.
The truth is, plant-based formula might be a safer choice for your child than traditional formula especially if your pediatrician is concerned your newborn may have food aversions or allergies.
Cow’s milk and soy are widely regarded allergens, and most soy is genetic - modified. These proteins may also be difficult for newborns to digest. Many babies experience side-effects from these ingredients whether they are ingested by way of breastmilk or formula. In the former case, it can be difficult for moms to entirely cut out dairy and soy products from their own diet or to pinpoint the foods causing their newborn to react. At this point, formula may be necessary to ensure baby gets the proper nutrients to grow and thrive.
In either case, if your baby is experiencing negative side-effects that could be related to dairy or soy consumption, such as hives or eczema, digestive concerns, or poor growth, it could be essential to consider your other options. If your child is experiencing any symptoms that may be the result of allergies to these foods, talk to your pediatrician about which formula is best for your child to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need and not further aggravating the problem.
Hormone & Antibiotic-Free
Plant-based formula can also be safer for your child because it is hormone and antibiotic-free. To avoid a milk allergy, many parents have turned to soy-based formula in the past. Soy can contain high aluminum content and contains isoflavones, which act as estrogen in the body and can potentially disrupt hormones. Soy-free plant-based formulas are produced without hormones or antibiotics, and thus a safer choice for your child.
Greater Nutritional Value
The primary goal of formula is providing newborns with the proper nutrients for growth and development, so it’s essential that any formula provides the amount of fluid, protein, carbs, fat, and vitamins a baby needs and is regulated by the FDA.
Plant-based diets typically are much higher in fiber and antioxidants. These and other phytonutrients are also more abundant and demonstrate increased health benefits when consumed as part of a whole food, which is common in plant-based formulas, rather than as part of isolated components, which is common in dairy-based formulas.
While you may choose a plant-based formula for it’s nutritional benefits, it’s also important to note that it can be an ethical choice as well. Whether you strive to make eco-friendly or animal-friendly choices, plant-based formula is both.
Formulas that use whole foods rather than isolate components require fewer natural resources to be produced because the process of grinding up whole plants is less taxing than isolating ingredients. Sustainably produced vegan and plant-based formulas are manufactured in this way, making them more eco-friendly than dairy-milk formulas, which rely not only on lengthy manufacturing processes but also on the heavy ecological footprint of cows.
Else Nutrition Is A Safe Vegan Formula
Here at Else, we care about quality food for our kids that is not only healthy, but also sustainable. We were founded on providing clean, science-backed, plant-based nutrition for families.
Else’s plant-based formula is 100% organic, vegan, non-dairy, and soy-free. It is free of hormones, antibiotics, artificial colorings and flavors, and GMOs. It goes beyond the FDA standard of baby formulas to provide a formula safe for everyone and a sustainable option for your family. Else also conducts a nutritional and microbiology analysis for each production batch to maintain the highest level of safety for every product.
In addition to these safety standards, Else meets the Clean Label certification standard too. Clean Label is a consumer-driven movement that focuses on food and ingredient transparency. A food is considered Clean Label if it contains only natural, familiar, and simple ingredients that are easy to recognize, understand, and pronounce. This means there are no artificial ingredients or synthetic chemicals in the food and also means you can know exactly what you are feeding your child. Additionally, because it is both dairy and soy-free, Else formula may be easier to digest for babies with food allergies or intolerances.
That’s a choice you can feel good about.
This is What Parents Have Been Waiting For
Whether you yourself live a vegan lifestyle or you just want to make the healthiest possible choices for your family, you can feel confident feeding your child a plant-based formula. You should never have to accept unsatisfactory nutrition because it’s the industry standard or grandfathered into grocery stores. Else is changing the industry standard and bringing plant-based nutrition to the forefront.
You should have the power to choose better for your children, and now you do. Else is the vegan, plant-based formula option you’ve been waiting for—and, most importantly, it’s safe too.
The content and advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment, advice for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child.