Is Breastmilk Vegan Enough for Vegans?

Christie Haskell

breastfeeding mom
Already not a vegan?
Some people feel that human breast milk is not a vegan diet for a human baby since a vegan diet does not include anything from animals. The argument is that a female human is an animal, so someone who drinks breast milk cannot be vegan, even if the mom is vegan. Why? Because if a cow only eats grass, that doesn't make drinking its milk okay when you're a vegan.

But when a baby breastfeeds, that isn't harming the mother. It's not treating her inhumanely. Okay, well, the occasional cracked nipple can cause suffering, but you know what I mean. Still people think breast milk doesn't fit into a vegan diet.

Years ago there was a very sad story that gets me a little stabby about a 6-week-old baby boy Crown Shakur who died from starvation because his vegan parents thought he'd be fine surviving on a diet of just apple juice and soy milk. 

Let me refresh your memory: Mother Jade Sanders and father Lamont Thomas were charged with malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, and cruelty to children. Their lawyer, however, said they were doing the best they could while adhering to a vegan lifestyle, a line the prosecutor didn't buy.

They must have believed that human breast milk was not vegan enough.

The mom swears they didn't mean to hurt the baby:

"We are against animal cruelty, so why would I be cruel to my son? Why would I do something with his body? We are against animals being murdered, why would we be cruel to him and try to do something to his body? The fact that we named him Crown, we were proud of him. We weren’t trying to kill my son."

In an opinion article for the New York Times, Nina Planck says that a vegan diet is irresponsible during pregnancy, dangerous for weaned toddlers, and not enough for breastfeeding moms to make healthy breast milk. Many people think this.

Fortunately, her opinion isn't supported scientifically, as long as a mother makes sure she receives sufficient vitamin b12, calcium, and zinc (most commonly found in animal products in the normal diet). Vegans otherwise are generally healthier eaters than most. Many vegans actually push the importance of breastfeeding, regardless of the baby potentially losing their "vegan" status according to some.

Some debate that the reason vegans don't eat animal products but human fluids (including but not limited to breast milk) can be considered vegan is because you can obtain consent. Others say that's completely ludicrous. Overall, I find the entire debate to be mind-numbingly weird, and I also feel that if you refuse to breastfeed your baby because you don't think it's vegan, you have some serious priority issues you need to work through.

What do you all think?

Is a breastfed baby still a vegan baby?


Image via C.H.M.

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