Vegetarian Baby Milk & Infant Formula

Holle Organic Goats Milk Baby Milk and Infant Follow On Formula 2 are the only organic vegetarian baby milks currently available and approved on the UK market.

Vegetarian baby milk and vegetarian infant formula are frequent topics in my email inbox. Many parents who would like to bring up their baby to be vegetarian are concerned that they cannot feed their newborn or older baby a baby milk or infant formula that is suitable. This isn’t a new topic here on the Ulula blog (I wrote about vegetarian baby milks a few years ago now) and I’m sure it won’t be the last time we address this issue. This article, however, provides an important update.

Holle goats milk is the only organic vegetarian baby milk on the UK marketHolle goats milk is the only organic vegetarian baby milk on the UK market

Vegetarian Baby Milks – the Journey to Wider Approval

In 2012 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an opinion on the suitability of goats’ milk as a nutrient source for baby milks and follow-on formula. This opinion drew on all relevant and available scientific evidence and examined not just compositional data but considered studies relating to health and development outcomes of babies fed goats milk based formula.

The panel concluded that babies fed on goats milk formula did not show statistically significant or clinically relevant differences on major health and development ‘markers’ compared to babies fed on cows milk formula. The panel further concluded that protein from goat milk can be suitable as a protein source for baby milks and infant formula, provided the final product complies with the compositional criteria laid down in the exisiting strict regulations governing the manufacture of baby milk.

As a result, the EU’s infant formula and follow-on formula directive was amended in February 2014 permitting goats milk based baby milks (suitable from birth) and follow-on formula (suitable from 6 months) to be sold on the UK market. Previously, manufacturers such as Holle were only permitted to produce ‘goats milk nutrition’ labelled as suitable from 12 months old and onwards. Other countries permitted the sale of such milks as suitable from 6 months onwards – much to the joy of many vegetarian parents who wanted to buy vegetarian baby milk and infant formula.

Vegetarian Baby Milk – Now Available in the UK

Holle’s goats milk products have always been suitable for vegetarians. As I wrote previously, while Holle have and continue to make every effort to ensure their cows milk based baby milks are suitable for vegetarians they cannot always guarantee the source of the whey that they use in the high organic standard they demand. Consequently, they do not claim their cows based infant formula are suitable for raising vegetarian babies.

With their goats milks on the other hand, for technical nutritional reasons their ingredients lists are a little different and the same issue does not occur. Hence, both the Holle Organic Goats Milk Baby Milk and Goats Milk Infant Follow On Formula 2 are suitable for vegetarians. We have been in touch with the company nutritionists and quality control departments and have been assured that both of the Holle baby milks are suitable for vegetarians and, of course, meet all the strictly regulated compositional criteria for baby milks and infant formula as laid out in the relevant EU regulations.

I know, for many parents, the availablilty of properly regulated and manufactured vegetarian baby milk is an enormous relief. And, as the major Holle supplier here in the UK I am both pleased and proud to stock both the Holle Organic Goats Milk Baby Milk and Goats Milk Infant Follow On Formula 2.

Goats Milk Based Baby Milks and Dairy Allergies

The EFSA paper referred to above looked at the scientific evidence for the suitability of goats milk as a baby milk for babies with no other health issues, that is ‘normal, healthy babies’. Subsequently the regulations were amended to allow the manufacturer of goats based baby milks and formula from birth onwards (and hence Holle’s vegetarian baby milk).

The opinion paper also looked at the suitabilty of goats based baby milks for the 1.9% to 4.9% of babies who the World Health Organisation estimate as having a cows milk protein allergy. As you can imagine, this is a complex issue for an article about vegetarian baby milk and infant formula to go into any detail here. It is important though that I tell any parent who wishes to feed their little one a vegetarian baby milk based on goats milk that, if their baby has a known allergic reaction to cows milk, then they should seek medical advice before starting to feed any goats milk based formula. I can’t do better to highlight this issue than to quote directly from Holle:

The composition of Holle Organic Goat Milk Follow-On Formula 2 corresponds to a follow-on milk which is suitable for infants from 6 months of age who are already taking one solid meal a day. Should a child have an allergic reaction to cow’s milk, he or she may be able to tolerate goat’s milk as an alternative. Goat’s milk can, however, also cause allergies since some of the protein structures contained in cow’s and goat’s milk are the same. Key here is which protein the child has an allergic reaction to. This should, in all cases, be diagnosed by a doctor in order to clarify whether Holle Organic Infant Goat Milk Follow-On Formula 2 is a suitable alternative for your child.

Similar advice applies for goats based baby milk from birth. For the reasons outlined above the UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) in March 2014 issued advice that “goats’ milk infant formula and follow-on formula is not suitable for infants with a cows’ milk protein allergy, unless directed by a healthcare professional.”

I should emphasise to parents wanting a vegetarian baby milk that, unless your baby has such a cows milk protein allergy, you can feed him or her the Holle goats based baby milk or infant formula with peace of mind – it meets all evidence based EU regulations and is the only approved organic vegetarian baby milk on the market.

Best Quality Vegetarian Baby Milk

Not only are the Holle goats based baby milk and infant formula certified organic, they use milk from biodynamically raised goats on farms and smallholdings in the German Black Forest region. So, not only can your little one have vegetarian baby milk but you can rest assured that it is produced from only the best quality goats milk. Biodynamic agiculture is considered the highest form of organic and there are stringent regulations that govern both growing and production methods. The starting point is a healthy soil that is full of vitality. Biodynamic farmers use compost, hand made herbal and mineral preparations as well as green manures to strengthen and enrich their soil. Plants grown in such a healthy environment thrive, just as nature intended. They are able to take up the maximum amount of nutrients which, in turn, are passed on to your baby. Not only that, mums and dads consistently tell me their baby’s milk taste delicious – “just like milk should taste”.

The use of chemical and synthetic pesticides and fertilisers and GM technology are strictly prohibited in biodynamic agriculture. Biodynamic agriculture generally is proven to be extremely environmentally friendly and the Holle vegetarian baby milks are, as I mentioned, derived from goats raised in the Black Forest and so do not have all the high associated negative environmental footprint impacts that lesser quality milks flown in from across the other side of the world might have.

To summarise, mums and dads looking for a vegetarian baby milk for their little one now no longer need to compromise their ethics. Holle currently produce the only organic vegetarian baby milks available and approved on the UK market. Goats based baby milks are approved for all babies except for those with a medically diagnosed cows milk allergy. So, if you are rasing a vegetarian baby who has such allergies then there are still some difficulties – I said at the beginning that this won’t be the last time I’ll need to address this issue. If you would like any further information please feel free to get in touch and I’ll gladly answer any questions.