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Vegan baby food is food for infants that contains no animal products. Parents who want their children to lead lifelong vegan lifestyles feed their infants vegan baby food. This type of baby food can be made at home or bought in most grocery stores. Vegan baby food differs from vegetarian baby food because vegetarian baby food has no meat but can contain animal products like dairy, while vegan baby food does not have any animal products at all. When feeding a developing baby a vegan diet, balancing the nutrients needed for the baby's development becomes extremely important for the health and survival of the child.
At the grocery store, most baby food companies make some vegan foods for babies, and baby food brands often specially label vegan and vegetarian baby foods. Reading the ingredients on the label can also help a shopper determine whether baby food is vegan. Vegetable baby foods that contain only vegetables are by nature vegan. Some vegan baby foods are also organic. Vegan baby food can also be made inexpensively at home, though many parents find the shelf-stable portable store-bought type much more convenient.
The complications of a poorly balanced vegan baby food diet can cause serious health and development complications, some that can lead to the death of the baby. Feeding a baby a healthy vegan diet is not impossible, but it does require careful planning to include vegan foods with the missing nutrients. The most common nutrient deficiency in a vegan baby's diet is protein, but other vitamins, like B12, A and D can be scarce in an all-vegan diet. Many vegans use nutritional yeast to get more vitamin B12. Vitamin A can be acquired from eating vegan baby food made from certain orange-colored fruits and vegetables like carrots, pumpkins and peaches.
Feeding on breast milk can help a baby make up some of the missing nutrients typical to a vegan baby food diet, but a mother on a vegan diet can change the nutritional content of the breast milk she produces. Breast milk from a vegan mother typically contains less of the omega-3 fatty acids that are important in the development of a baby's eyes and brain. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be acquired from some varieties of edible algae, which can be mixed into baby food or fed to the baby as a supplement.
Parents choose to feed an infant of vegan diet for a variety of reasons. Some vegan parents choose this diet because they feel that using animal products is cruel and unnecessary, and they want to pass the practice on to their children early. Others maintain a vegan diet for health reasons, such as increased plant-based nutrients or reduced animal-based toxins.