I have a young child and like many parents we’re supplementing her diet with formula. Now I know that opinions on breastfeeding can get heated so I want to make this clear: this question is purely regarding vegan options, considering that it is not always possible to breastfeed for health reasons. Formula is often recommended by health professionals.

Is giving formula to children permitted for vegans? It is an exception such as giving animal products to their pets but not consuming them yourself.

What viable alternatives are there? While many people have the option to breastfeed, others do not. When considering a society in the future where veganism is widely practiced and it is difficult to purchase animal products, what options would these people have?

It is scientifically proven that cow and human milk contain different micronutrients and proteins that are essential to the health of the baby, their immune system, and their microflora. Children without this nutrition could have long-term health issues. Considering that many people practice veganism for ethical reasons, is it ethical to deprive your child of the nutrition that they need in order to avoid animal products?

  • Since this has appeared in Close Votes queue: I don't think this question doesn't belong on this site as such, but I would definitely recommend rewording it. Questions like "is it acceptable?", "is it permitted?" all end up with a bit of hand-waving and asking "permitted by whom?". There is a valid, non-opinion based question hidden behind that though: are vegan formulas at least as adequate as cow's milk-based formulas for substituting breastfeeding? I'd recommend focusing on that if/when you decide to edit the question. Also, consider adding source to your last paragraph. Aug 14 '19 at 14:42
  • @AlexanderRossa the question as written does not ask the question you suggested. It asks "is it ethical to deprive your child of the nutrition they need in order to avoid animal products?" and IMHO this (heavily loaded!) question can only be answered with opinions or within some particular ethical framework, but the question has not specified one.
    – Zanna
    Aug 14 '19 at 14:59
  • This question contains a surprising claim "It is scientifically proven that [...] cow milk contain[s] [...] micronutrients and proteins that are essential to the health of the baby, their immune system, and their microflora." Aside from the consideration that science does not prove things, I suspect this is simply false, given that cow's milk only recently (in evolutionary terms) became a human food and is not universally consumed. It would probably be helpful to reference such claims.
    – Zanna
    Aug 14 '19 at 15:07
  • 1
    Related: Are there vegan formula options for infants?
    – Zanna
    Aug 14 '19 at 15:09
  • I’m not here to argue semantics. I asked this question in good faith and made my premise clear. I’m genuinely curious if this is a moral dilemma for some vegans or if it is considered acceptable to feed their children animal products. Have alternatives been considered for if animal products become scarce due to lack of demand? Are they nutritionally equivalent? I’ve deliberately worded this differently to past questions on formula. Edit suggestions welcome (I am sleep-deprived father of a newborn).
    – Tom Kelly
    Aug 15 '19 at 4:42

"Is giving formula to children permitted for vegans?" - permitted or not permitted by who?

There is no official body determining what vegans can and cannot do and who can or cannot call themselves vegan. You need to decide yourself whether you would do this and whether you will continue to call yourself vegan.

I think that most people would put the health of their child ahead of strict adherence to principles but this is your decision.

Similar questions sometimes arise with medicines which contain animal products.

  • “By who?” By themselves. It varies but as far as I’m aware, most vegans abide by a personal code of ethics and many practice the lifestyle for ethical reasons. If the motives are to drive down demand for animal products and create a vegan-majority society, there will be concerns like these for people who need these for medical reasons. I would expect an answer to address these wider concerns.
    – Tom Kelly
    Aug 13 '19 at 21:15
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    I agree. My point was that each person needs to make their decision. There is no official rule book.
    – badjohn
    Aug 13 '19 at 21:23

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