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National Cattlemen's Beef Association pays
You may have heard about a study claiming that feeding a vegan diet to children is "unethical." What you may not have heard is that the "study" was paid for by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. What's more the study itself was depraved and showed no regard for human life. Like Nazis experimenting on captives, the Cattle industry manipulated very slightly the diets of starving African children -- not to benefit the children but to try to produce some "scientific finding" which justifies meat-eating.
2/22/05 - They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Well, it's even more
dangerous when it's wearing a lot of "respectable" titles.
Just eating beans and corn isn't an accurate representation of a vegan diet any more than it's an accurate representation of a kosher diet. So what do you find when you look at children who are eating a normal vegan diet?
Imagine 554 children in rural Wyoming are eating a starvation diet that consists almost exclusively of beans and corn. As a result, many of them have stunted growth and are underweight. Nearly all of them suffer from a broad array of malnutrition-related illnesses. How many of them do you feed? All of them? Or do you decide to conduct an experiment to see what happens if you feed some and let the others continue to suffer for a couple of years?
Consider writing your Congressional representatives and demanding that that the USDA and meat industry stop experimenting on young, starving children, and ask for an investigation. You can find your representatives contact info here:
Vesanto Melina RD comments:
I was called by the BBC to respond to the story "Children 'Harmed' By Vegan Diets". I am co-author of "Becoming Vegan", by dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, distributed in the UK by Airlift books; www.airlift.co.uk.
Lindsay Allen, of the US Agricultural Research Service had done a study in which providing animal products such as butter, cheese, milk, and meat improved the health and growth of impoverished and undernourished Kenyan children. Professor Allen failed to recognize that an assortment of plant foods that were nutrient rich and higher in protein and calories would have helped too. The findings from this study are not applicable to vegan children in the developed world.
In our book "Becoming Vegan" we explain how to create a balanced and nutritionally adequate vegan diet. Everyone doesn’t automatically know to do this properly, and certainly the authors of this study didn’t. Whatever diet people use to raise their children, they typically need to learn a few nutrition pointers and tips about feeding children properly. For vegan diets this is particularly true as most vegans were not raised on this diet. But research has shown that it can be done and result in children of same height and weight statistically as the norms (though there tend to be fewer obese children among the vegan population.) Whatever their dietary choice, pregnant women and children are more vulnerable than people at other stages of the life cycle because of their fast rate of growth. It makes sense to take extra care in planning a nutritionally adequate diet for these stages.
It is not true that animal products contain essential nutrients that are not found anywhere else. Animal products are unique sources of certain substances such as cholesterol. However dietary cholesterol is not essential; we make what we require in our bodies and too much may be a risk factor for disease. Vitamin B12 comes from bacteria and is present in animal products as a result of bacterial contamination. Properly designed vegan diets contain vitamin B12 from fortified foods or supplements. Vegans obtain sufficient calcium from fortified soy milk, calcium-set tofu; sesame seeds, almonds, blackstrap molasses, white or black beans; and greens such as kale; bok choy, Napa cabbage, and broccoli.
Professor Allen's assertion that feeding children a vegan diet was unethical is unfounded, and reflects the fact that Professor Allen does not know how to create a nutritionally adequate vegan diet. Considering the risk factors related to in a diet high in animal products, it can be viewed as unethical to feed your child a diet high in animal products, and to set your child up for a future that increases his or her risk of various cancers, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
Vesanto Melina, MS, Registered Dietitian Langley, B. C. Canada Phone: (604) 882-6782 http://www.nutrispeak.com.
Brenda Davis RD comments:
I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the statement by Lindsay Allen, from the
The question of adequacy of a vegan diet is one that has been thoroughly addressed in scientific literature. The position of the American Dietetic Association, according to their most current position paper on vegetarian diets, is as follows:
The American Dietetic Association has long been regarded as a very reliable and conservative professional organization, and their position statements are made with great attention to research. There is solid scientific evidence that vegan diets can be completely adequate when appropriately planned. Two classic studies were done in the late 1980’s – one in
There is no doubt that poorly designed diets result in malnutrition – whether the diets are vegan or omnivorous. Constructing a nutritionally adequate vegan diet has never been easier. Consuming a wide variety of legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and ensuring sufficient calories, and reliable sources of vitamins B12 and D (several foods are fortified with these nutrients) will do the trick for most people. There are veggie “meats” that provide similar quality and quantity of protein and trace nutrients as meat, and non-dairy milks that provide similar amounts of calcium, vitamin D and B12 as cow’s milk. The plant-based alternatives come packaged with protective antioxidants and phytochemicals, instead of saturated fat and cholesterol. In a place where over 70% of the population will die of chronic degenerative diseases that are largely induced by low fiber, animal-centered, processed food diets, vegan diets are an attractive alternative. In fact, eating a plant-based diet will cut your risk of such diseases in half. A standard North American diet of cheeseburgers and fries, presweetened cereals, potato chips and soda pop is a far greater threat to health than a well-planned vegan diet will ever be.
Brenda Davis, Registered Dietitian
Co-author, Becoming Vegan, The New Becoming Vegetarian
John McDougall MD points out more meat industry sponsorship of the publications and conferences involved in disseminating this "study" -- see his post here.
Of further interest, here is an abstract on a recently published article by Professor Chandrasekhar in India. He used soy protein to improve the diet of Indian children, resulting in significant (P<0.01) improvement in the heights, weights and the hemoglobin levels of the children. Also, their morbidity pattern and cognition improved remarkably.
This approach would be more economical, more ethical and healthier than feeding malnourished children meat in an atempt to improve these health parameters.
Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004;13(Suppl):S118.
Soy proteins - an ideal functional food for growth promotion.
Introduction: Soy though a native food of South East Asia, it is a new under exploited food in the India context. Growth promoting effects of soy in health particularly among women and children is much-sought information under the current nutritional scenario in India, hence the objective of this research.
Methodology: Defatted soy flour to replace the legume protein in the school lunch diet of preschool children (1200) was studied over a period of one year. Anthropometrics parameters, blood hemoglobin levels, clinical picture, physical and mental abilities of children formed the criteria for evaluation. In another attempt grade II malnutrition children (400) of 1-2 years of age were supplemented with the developed soy protein isolate (SPI) based food mix at a level (62g) to fill the calorie gap in their home diet and their growth parameters monitored over a period of one year.
Results: Significant (P<0.01) improvement in the heights, weights and the hemoglobin levels of children given soy flour substituted lunch was observed. A decrease in the manifestation of clinical symptoms, significant improvements in the physical ability attributes and in the mental ability scores were evident. A proportionate increase with increases in the levels of substitution was also observed. Among the grade II malnutrition children given SPI based food mix, a significant improvement in their height (supplemented vs. control: 4.5 cm vs. 0.92 cm), weight (5.05 kg Vs 0.84 kg), arm, chest and head circumstances (0.29 cm vs. 0.07 cm; 1.30 cm vs. 1.09 cm and 1.24cm vs. 0.19 cm) respectively were recorded. 90.5 % of children in the supplemented group shifted to normal grade and the remaining 9.5 to grade I status. Their morbidity pattern and cognition improved remarkably.
Conclusion: Considering the cost effectiveness of soy, this result on child growth undoubtedly signifies soy as the ideal functional food of the era for the promotion of good health of future generation