Going On Vegan Diet While Breastfeeding

Going On A Vegan Diet While Breastfeeding – For personal or ideological reasons, some people may decide not to eat animal products. The evolution of vegan ideology means that more and more people are adopting a vegan diet.

Going Vegan Diet While Breastfeeding

A vegan diet excludes all animal products: it, therefore, excludes meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, etc.

That’s why a vegan diet is always questionable during pregnancy and breastfeeding because according to the INPES “it can cause deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, iodine and calcium in mothers and children”.

I am a vegan woman breastfeeding my child, do I have special needs?


The vitamin state of mothers influences the vitamin composition of milk. Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products.

A vegetarian mother who eats eggs and dairy products can achieve satisfactory vitamin B12 status.

However, vegan mothers must be supplemented with vitamin B12 so that their milk is not deficient in this vitamin essential for the proper development of babies.


Cow’s milk and dairy products are one of the best-known sources of calcium.

But there are many other sources of calcium compatible with a vegan diet such as whole grains and flours; leafy green vegetables; almonds and other nuts, dried fruit, sesame seeds, tofu, certain algae (wakame), fermented products like miso and oranges.

Breast milk contains a small amount of iron but it is very easily assimilated by babies, in particular thanks to the lactoferrin present in breast milk.

The level of iron in milk varies and is therefore quite dependent n the level of variations in the diet of mothers and their reserves.

Iron is mainly found in meat. But then again, there are other sources of iron compatible with a vegan diet.

Iron is found in legumes (lentils, peas, beans), green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and some dried fruits.


Fatty fish and cod liver oil as well as milk are important sources of vitamin D (which must then be associated with exposure to the sun).

For vegan pregnant mothers, it is difficult to find alternatives as rich with vitamin D can be found in mushrooms or dark chocolate (min 40% cocoa).

Vitamin D supplementation is therefore recommended.


Iodine is found in fish and shellfish but also in pastured meats (supplemented with iodine) and table salt enriched with iodine which ensures the intake of Iodine for the general population.

However, the intake of salt enriched in iodine alone is insufficient to cover the iodine requirements.

Regular consumption of algae can satisfy these needs, as is the case in some Asian countries. Otherwise, there too, supplementation with a dietary supplement should be considered.

Can You Adopt A Vegan Diet While Breastfeeding

If you are already a vegan mother or wish to change your habits of consumption of products of animal origin, be careful:

  • Ask a dietitian who can help you find alternatives to these products and advise you on certain food supplements. He can make a personalized assessment adapted to your situation.
  • Vegan unions are also familiar with these issues and can provide you with information on vegan alternative foods or food communities.

What is breast milk made of?


Be careful not to confuse vegan and vegetarian. Vegetarian diets are more flexible and, depending on the definition, include dairy products, eggs, and sometimes even fish.

This article only concerns vegan diets, that is to say, that excludes ALL products of animal origin.

Scientific references
  • Debski, B. et al. (1989). Selenium content and glutathione peroxidase activity of milk from vegetarian and nonvegetarian women. The Journal of nutrition, 119 (2), pp. 215–220.
  • FNB & Anon (2005). Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • Mangels Reed, Messina Virginia, Messina Mark (2011). The dietitian’s guide to vegetarian diets: issues and applications. 3rd ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  • Mangels, Reed (2011). The everything vegan pregnancy book: all you need to know for a healthy pregnancy that fits your lifestyle. Everything series. Avon, Mass: Adams Media.
  • University e M e Dicale Virtual Francophone (2011). UE Obstetrics, Chapter 4 Composition of breast milk, section