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Thread: Children harmed by vegan diet?

  1. #1

    Children harmed by vegan diet?

    Wow, Lindsay Allen has certainly offered a view that will draw massive fire from vegans and vegetarians everywhere.

    Based on a study of African children living on a poor diet of primarily beans, those fed just 2 ounces of meat a day gained both muscle and intelligence.

    Here's the BBC's coverage of it.

    Here's Lou's blog on it. I particularly like the "Meat, Your Maker" title, Lou!

    If there is any doubt that this will stir debate, here's a "Have Your Say" from the BBC, which they had to close after just 2 days from an overload of responses.

    My view: how many of the people who have dismissed Allen's study as "rubbish" have actually read the original study, and not just the media's version of it? Allen seems to be begging for controversy with some of her comments to the media, but there is certainly some truth in the idea that when you're dealing with a child's development, they should not be denied anything that could retard their development. Excluding any type of whole food, veggies, fruit, fish, and meat included, is not fair to a child who has no say in the matter.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2003
    City of Broad Shoulders

    Children harmed by vegan diet?

    I'd like to read the actual study. While I agree that a varied and moderate diet is good for everyone, children included, of course you have to look closely at someone who is employed by the USDA. Having had first hand experience with the USDA's ag cotton groups, I can tell you they are not beyond manipulating data and interpretations for their own purposes. If this researcher is working the same way, then the claims of the vegan groups may actually have some merit.

    The other questions are in regards to the actual study. Obviously, the first question is the evaluation of the children's performance which seems somewhat subjective and prone to bias. The second is that these were poverty stricken kids who are probably severely lacking in basic nutrition and caloric intake. Certainly adding meat into any of their diets would help replenish lost micronutrients that make a difference in function. Would the same be true of US children, who are getting progressively more obese with hypercaloric diets?

    Finally, in India you have perhaps the world's largest populations of vegans anywhere on the planet. Coincidentally, you also have a lot of poverty as well. Yet the country produces some of the brightest minds in the world in engineering and medicine. Apocryphally, what we could conclude is if they added meat to their diets of their children in the last millenia of veganism, they would have ruled the world by now. You can see where I am going here.

    I am a meat eater and proud of it. But, in this case, I think Lou and perhaps you John, are seeing what you want to see. I imagine Dos, who is a vegan, would have a more impassioned response to this study.

  3. #3

    Children harmed by vegan diet?

    I think the main problem with this study is the locale and the population. I'm not sure how many vegan kids in America subsist on "low-nutrition corn and bean staples".
    I would imagine if responsible vegan parents fed themselves and their kids with foods found on this page , the introduction of a little meat wouldn't have such a drastic effect on the child's health.

  4. #4

    Children harmed by vegan diet?

    Good points Kaiser and Vin. Let me clarify that I'm not supporting or rejecting Allen's study, because I haven't read it. I'm not sure if her comments about veganism being bad for children were just to the media, or they were published with her African children study. If she was trying to make a scientific leap from an impoverished bean and corn diet to veganism, then I would have to conclude that it's a flawed premise.

    I would have to question your India example though Kaiser. My guess is that India is producing some of the brightest minds in the world for a whole host of reasons, primarily cultural. Also, I would imagine that a vegan Indian diet is probably more nutritionally sound than the typical crappy western overprocessed sugary diet. But that doesn't prove that a vegan diet is superior to a well-balanced one that includes meat.

    As far as my view - it is just my opinion that if I had kids, I think they deserve the best nutrition nature has to offer, which includes fish and meat.

  5. #5
    Administrator Jean-Paul's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Little Rock, AR

    Children harmed by vegan diet?

    I just posted this on Lou's comments section. Glad to see that new feature Lou!

    Love your comment on the possible book title!

    Being the father of three children, this story is pretty important to me. Especially since my middle child, who is now 4-years-old, is so incredibly picky, and will not eat meat or vegetables no matter what we do. She will only eat certain fruits, and soy chicken nuggets. Any chance she gets she will eat sweets (which isn't often in my household). Its as though she has a protien detector in her nose that scans food as it approaches her mouth, and if any is detected, her head will pull away and dodge the contents of the fork at all costs. This would worry me if she looked even slightly behind in development, but she is the tallest kid in her class by several inches, and she doesn't seem to lack in leadership skills.

    My wife's tact is to at least put veggies on her plate, whether she eats them or not. She is extremely strong-willed (refering to my daughter, although the wife qualifies for that as well), and my wife has decided to not make food a battle, so she doesn't force the issue. She does withhold dessert unless my daughter consumes at least one bite of her veggies, which hasn't happened yet. Did I mention that she was strong-willed?

    My opinion is that the woman's statement are quite strong, as if she's trying to get some enraged reactions. My father was a vegetarian (not vegan) by his own choice, but he certainly didn't impose that on me and my brother. Neither of us is vegetarians. My brother briefly flirted with it, and experienced multiple health problems that went away almost immediately when he returned to gulping down bloody steaks (I know... highly scientific reasoning). I would find it irritating if a parent were so "nazi" about veganism that they potentially damaged their own children's health. I hold them in the same regard as fundamentalists who don't get proper medical care for their children because they feel that "God will protect them". Its just irresponsible for a parent to not consider every possibility when it comes to proper care for their children.

  6. #6

    Children harmed by vegan diet?

    Concerning producing some of the best minds, is there some reason to think that they produce a higher rate (or even average rate) compared to any other country?

    I heard on the news that for 700 jobs, a company recieved 80,000 resumes. With those numbers, you'll have some smart ones as well as some average and below average.

  7. #7

    Children harmed by vegan diet?

    Lets not forget that while India has enormous poverty, it also has substantial upper class and an enormous middle class. How many of the "brightest minds in the world in engineering and medicine" came from those 2 and how many from the poor who cant afford meat?

    As to the original study, I havnt read it but from: "Based on a study of African children living on a poor diet of primarily beans, those fed just 2 ounces of meat a day gained both muscle and intelligence."

    My initial reaction would be that adding nearly any variety, even if it be fruits and nuts would likely have a positive response at all. Comparing a poverty stricken diet of African children, to a well rounded scientifically based vegan diet such as someone like Dos might come up with for children would, I imagine, show completely different outcomes in strength and intelligence.


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