Vegan eatery places ban on dairy in baby formula – is it effective?

The short answer – I have no idea. And you probably don’t either.

The Spanish vegan restaurant El Vergel placed the ban recently, and reportedly asks mothers feeding their babies with cows milk, including in formula, to stop or leave. This has lead to some mothers feeling humiliated, and leaving a negative review.

This is already a very charged debate in my social circles. People are arguing whether it is effective or not, with some very strong opinions in both directions. So far, none really seem that backed by evidence. I would just encourage you all to forget all of your predispositions right now, and think objectively about what is most effective here.

Ultimately, we want to improve the lives of humans and animals. We should only care whether humans get angry at something insofar as it effects future wellbeing of humans and animals. Angering humans in and of itself is not necessarily wrong.

Also consider steelmanning¬†(a super useful technique) the opposite side of the debate from what you think. What are the pros and cons of each side? I don’t think this is being done enough here.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have no¬†idea how effective this is. I simply have next to no information and don’t know enough about human psychology to know whether the positives outweigh the negatives. I do want to list what I think are some pros and cons, though, to get this flowing in a constructive direction. I think these are all accurate, but note I don’t know what the magnitude of their effect is.


  • Gets parents people thinking about the issue
  • Might cause people to realise cognitive dissonance
  • Media attention on animal treatment in dairy industry


  • Might turn people off veganism
  • Might reinforce the belief that animals are less capable of experiencing suffering (some very weak evidence for this)
  • Unwanted negative media attention
  • Might lose non-vegan customers who otherwise would be eating vegan food
  • Might lose vegan customers who disagree with this

4 thoughts on “Vegan eatery places ban on dairy in baby formula – is it effective?”

  1. Disapointing article. Especially from the fact that you didn’t refine you pro and con list. I think that the suggestion of doing a pro and con list is great but I think that continuously saying that we don’t know becomes naive and pointless.

    1. Too often I see people jump to conclusions, seemingly without evidence. Yes, I accept that sometimes we need to act fast, and sometimes with little information. If I were running this restaurant, I probably wouldn’t have done what they did. But this still doesn’t mean I am confident in my assessment that it was a poor action.

      Continually saying we know for sure is also damaging. What I would like to see more of in these cases is people responding with ‘I think this is a bad idea because X and Y, though Z might change my mind’. What I usually see is ‘This is definitely a bad idea’ or ‘this is definitely a good idea’.

      I didn’t update the list of pros and cons because it was meant only to be illustrative. Also note that I’m not claiming any magnitude on the effects, only directions. If you can think of some effects that should be added, please let me know.

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