Nature's One Blog

Ask the Dietitian - Are There Any Formulas Available for Families That Prefer a Vegetarian Lifestyle?

Nov 28, 2018 10:25:55 AM / by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services

Vegetarian article banner-1How 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 organic, plant-based, vegetarian, complete nutrition formula available is Baby’s Only Organic® Soy 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 soy-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.

So why are there presently no alternatives to a plant-base formula other than soy?  Protein composition is the issue.  Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.  Amino acids found in protein build muscle, skin, hormones, enzymes and other functions.  Plant proteins are deficient in one or more essential amino acids unless supplemented.  The other 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.  Hopefully soon, we will discover a suitable plant-based protein free of heavy metals and other contaminants.

Feel free to email us at info@naturesone.com or give us a call 888-227-7122 should you have any additional questions about the use of a soy-based formula.  There’s lots of information and misinformation on the Internet regarding soy and we’d be happy to answer your questions based on sound scientific findings.

-Diane 

**For specific medical care and nutritional advice on product usage, please see your healthcare professional

Topics: Advice, Health, Dietitian Series, Dietitian