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If you want to breastfeed your baby, it can be a huge disappointment when it doesn't work out. And even though formula is a perfectly healthy option for babies, some parents seek out other ways to feed their baby breast milk -- either by getting it from a milk donor bank or through more informal (and some say, risky) milk sharing arrangements.
For moms who are committed to eating clean by sticking to a plant-based diet, eschewing meat, fish and dairy and want the same for their family, there's an even bigger hurdle to breast milk feeding, since they may want any milk their baby drinks to be free of those foods as well.
That's why avowed vegan and natural mama Alicia Silverstone is starting a vegan breast milk share, where women who need milk or have milk to share can hook up. She was moved to rally "Kind Lifers" -- followers of her green living web site -- after a vegan friend was unable to breastfeed due to breast reduction surgery. She writes:
“A lot of women unfortunately have a similar struggle, and there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to give their babies the most amazing start in life with clean, mean, glorious breast milk. And because we are a community of beautiful souls who recognize the importance of food as health, I say we help support those mamas and babies who need a hand during one of the most important times in their lives.”
Many milk banks will try to hook vegan moms up with like-minded donors, but Silverstone is encouraging followers to swap in a private arrangement. However, that kind of casual sharing means there's likely no screening for diseases that could be passed on to the infant through milk. La Leche League International does not support milk sharing since donors could be carrying a virus or bacteria but not know it. Breast milk banks that are part of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America pasteurize donations to remove the potential for illness.