Shopping for plant-based baby food? Vegan parents are typically left with few options when looking for affordable, nutritious food. Now, baby food giant Gerber has debuted its brand new Plant-tastic selection – plant-based products geared toward toddlers that are completely carbon neutral as certified by the Carbon Trust. The vegan baby food line will include seven new organic, plant-based child-oriented snacks, including toddler snack pouches, bowls, and crunchy snacks that are loaded with plant-based protein sources like beans and vegetables.

Gerber’s new plant-based selection will allow the company to enter the growing vegan market, which is increasingly focusing on younger generations. Nearly 81 percent of households with children buy plant-based protein, and the figure continues to grow. Climate warnings such as the UN’s IPCC report emphasize the importance of plant-based education and introduction in order to prevent the climate crisis from worsening.

“We hear from parents [that] they want more plant-based protein options that align with their food and climate values,” Gerber President and CEO Tarun Malkani said. “Gerber Plant-tastic offers stage-based nutrition across milestones starting with organic toddler pouches, snacks, and meals. We are proud the full range of Plant-tastic products is certified carbon neutral, furthering our commitment to climate forward nutrition.”

Early Plant-Based Eating Helps Decades Later

Gerber is advancing its plant-based selection to improve the health of younger children as well. Plenty of research indicates that eating plant-based foods earlier in life. This vegan selection will feature beans, legumes, veggies, and fruit, providing children with more health-conscious foods. Eating plant-based food earlier in life can prolong life expectancy by over 10 years, or even more.

The major company also aims to help parents introduce a plant-centered diet earlier in age so that once children reach young adulthood, plant-based foods will be a central factor in their diet. Between the ages of 18 and 30, people eating a plant-based diet could significantly minimize their risk for heart disease risk 30 years later.

Gerber’s new line also reflects a new understanding of just how beneficial plant-based foods can be. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – made of 100,000 healthcare professionals – published its position on vegan and plant-based diets in its medical journal, clarifying that removing meat and dairy benefits people of all ages.

“It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases,” the Academy stated. “These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”

Recently, governments and public schools systems worldwide have started integrating plant-based meals for children's school lunches. In New York City, the school system launched a "Vegan Fridays" meal program that brings free vegan food to all 1 million students. Outside of the United States, the Brazilian municipality Salvador launched a plant-based meal program to provide 10 million plant-based meals to students.

Nestle’s Plant-Based Product Growth

Swiss Food Giant Nestle acquired Gerber in 2007, but until now, the company had not expanded plant-based development for the Gerber brand. With the plant-based market expected to reach 77.8 billion dollars by 2025, Nestle has doubled down its plant-based development company-wide. With Gerber’s new plant-based selection, customers will be able to safely maintain proper nutrition levels for their children without purchasing animal-based toddler and baby food.

“Many parents of my patients incorporate plant-based options in their own diet and are looking to feed their baby in line with their own food values. For parents looking to incorporate plant-based choices, I advise ‘feeding baby the rainbow’ from a variety of foods.” Gerber Pediatric Consultant Dr. Whitney Casares said in a statement. “Gerber Plant-tastic foods are made with beans, whole grains, and veggies — which are packed with nutrients such as protein and fiber to support [a] baby’s healthy development.”

Adding vegan baby food to its brands, Nestle is keeping its promise to accelerate plant-based development. Last year, Nestle CEO Mark Schneider announced that the company is actively working to create a replacement for every animal protein available. Beyond baby food, Nestle has introduced vegan shrimp, plant-based eggs, and much more to its various brands.

For more plant-based happenings, visit The Beet's News category

Top 10 Sources of Plant-Based Protein According to a Nutritionist

More From The Beet