Vegan kids

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Vegan kids

Postby Konstantin » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:12 pm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/apr/20/veganism-safe-children

There's a comment option on the article.

Can a vegan diet damage your child's health? Social workers in Lewisham believe it can, which is why they tried to take a five-year-old who appeared to have rickets into care. The boy's parents have just won their legal battle to prevent this, and they have also succeeded in having their son removed from the at-risk register.

The couple say they don't eat dairy produce because asthma runs in the family – but they're not vegans, as social workers claimed, because they do eat fish. However, the case raises questions about how difficult it is to nourish a young child adequately on a restrictive diet – and whether the risks involved are too great.

Paediatric dietician Helen Wilcock, a member of the British Dietetic Association, says she tries not to be judgmental about the rights and wrongs of vegan diets for young children, but any parent wanting to raise their child as a vegan needs to be very well-informed. "Vegan children can be deficient in vitamin D, calcium, iron and possibly vitamin B12, so they need supplements," she says.

Another big issue is that a vegan diet isn't very energy-dense: you have to eat a lot of it to get enough energy. But children typically don't eat a lot, so getting enough calories into them can be difficult. "I recommend adding oil to their food," Wilcock says, "because that gives them more calories."

Another difficulty is protein. "If a child eats meat and fish, it's easy to get all the right amino acids. But if a child is getting protein from pulses, the problem is that one type of bean might not provide every amino acid, so there has to be a good balance of pulses. In other words, a child who only eats chicken will get all the amino acids – but a child who only eats one type of bean won't."

So information is the key – but do families really try to raise their children on vegan diets without being adequately informed? Sometimes, says Wilcock, they do – often because they are taken in by misleading information on the internet. And when a vegan diet starts to go wrong, the first symptom is usually that the child fails to thrive or grow properly. It's the shortage of calories and protein that kicks in first, she says, with rickets (caused by deficiencies in vitamin D and calcium) usually much further down the line. "Families are then referred to a dietician like me for advice – and every parent I've seen has been happy to make the changes I've recommended, because first and foremost they want their child to be healthy."

The most challenging time for parents raising vegan children is when they are under five – although another crucial time is for girls around puberty, when iron levels can dip.

But the risks of inadvertently malnourishing a child aren't restricted to veganism. According to Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation, one of the mistakes parents can make is to assume, wrongly, that what's healthy for an adult is healthy for a child. "For example, semi-skimmed milk, low-fat foods and high-fibre foods may be best for adults, but under-fives need full-fat dairy produce, while high-fibre roughage can fill them up too quickly, so they don't eat enough nutritious food."

Roughage bulks out the diet and moves food through the gut, but it's far more important for adults than for children – which is why in the past, says Williamson, children on vegetarian diets were sometimes referred to as "muesli belt kids", because their diet was too high in roughage, leading to deficiencies in some nutrients.

Amanda Baker at the Vegan Society says the real issue isn't whether a child's diet is vegan or not, or restricted or not – the important thing is whether it's healthy. "There are plenty of children who are eating a bad diet, and they're not vegan," she says. "Vegan parents have to plan their child's food carefully. Of course there are pitfalls, but there are pitfalls for all parents and for any diet.

"The reality is that vegan parents are more likely to cook at home, and are likely to be very knowledgeable about nutrition because they have had to make a lot of effort to follow the diet they do. Many of them follow a wholefood diet, and avoid trans-fats and too much salt. It's actually much easier for vegans and their children to meet the five-a-day guidelines than for other people."

Vegans, she says, are victims of the fact that many people, from doctors and health workers to social workers and other parents, are badly informed. "We've written to every GP's surgery in an attempt to make sure there's better information out there. Parents can come in for mistaken pressure from people with genuine concerns, simply because the issues aren't properly understood."

Are your children thriving on a vegan diet?
You can see my training log if you're really bored: [url]www.veganfitness.net/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=16086&start=360[/url]
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby xrodolfox » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:58 pm

What a bunch of BS>
"The worker has the right to leave his boss, but can she do it? And if she does quit him, is it in order to lead a free life; where she will have no master but herself? No, she leaves to sell herself to another employer. She's driven by the same hunger. Thus the worker's liberty is only a theoretical freedom, lacking any means of realization; an utter falsehood."
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby xJimx » Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:32 pm

[quote]Paediatric dietician Helen Wilcock, a member of the British Dietetic Association, says....... "If a child eats meat and fish, it's easy to get all the right amino acids. But if a child is getting protein from pulses, the problem is that one type of bean might not provide every amino acid, so there has to be a good balance of pulses. In other words, a child who only eats chicken will get all the amino acids – but a child who only eats one type of bean won't."


Epic fail.

Not to mention the fact that this whole shitstorm about vegan children is based on a case of children who weren't even vegetarian, let alone vegan.
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby flightlessbirds » Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:35 pm

On the other hand, I think it is great they went to sources on both sides of the story. They actually went and talked to someone at the Vegan society and presented her arguments as well. And they do clarify that the family mentioned is not even vegan. The thing I really dislike about it is that they start off with "CAN A VEGAN DIET DAMAGE YOUR CHILD'S HEALTH!?" and run through all the discouraging bits before modifying it with "okay, well it's only damaging if you're not informed." The vegan society lady makes a good point about it being possible to have a bad diet on any diet.
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby xrodolfox » Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:53 pm

THe problem is with how they frame the issue.

They answer a question that never needed asking, in fact a question that was never asked! That's the problem. Sure, they "got both sides", but that matters little when the question is flawed in the first place. You can get both sides of a question that makes folks think: veganism is unhealthy, or is it? and still have terrible results.

The problem is the question, not in the answer. Bad bad Guardian. BS, through and through.
"The worker has the right to leave his boss, but can she do it? And if she does quit him, is it in order to lead a free life; where she will have no master but herself? No, she leaves to sell herself to another employer. She's driven by the same hunger. Thus the worker's liberty is only a theoretical freedom, lacking any means of realization; an utter falsehood."
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby chloe » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:27 pm

yeah and this is written right under the picture so the first thing one reads ...
''Full-fat dairy produce has health benefits for under-fives.''

as soon as i read that i was angry!
everyone should reply if poss,specially those of you out there with vegan kids!!
I agree though that they did at least include a reasonable statement from the vegan society,though i just wish there was more input from vegan doctors,nutritionalist and like.
I dont think your average joe-guardian-reader is going to be that impressed by a statement from a vegan society representative.
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby Ombah » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:42 pm

Stupid... If you're getting kids you have to learn some stuff before getting them. Both vegans and non-vegans. Some people just don't think about that.

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Now, lot of people think (quite wrongly) vegetation lacks
In vitamin B12... vitamin B12...
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Then buy a bottle of vitamin pills!
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby Enhydra Lutris » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:58 pm

I read an article the other day about how a lot of people feed their youngsters wholemeal and low fat omni-diets with too much vegetables and fruit compared to what children need, and that wasn't very good either. So it seems to be a wide-spread potential problem.
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby Alistar » Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:00 am

I hate this kind of BS. So there aren't any unhealthy omni children?

IMO, it's a bit like a group of vegans finding some unhealthy omni kid with Ricketts, holding them up as a "typical" omni example, and then asking themselves the question: "Can an omnivorous diet damage your childs health?" And then all pat themselves on the back, egg each other on, and then agree at the ridiculousness of such a diet. Afterwards writing a stupid article asking the question in some major paper somewhere.

But the average omni is lucky if they even know of a vegan, let alone a vegan family with vegan kids, so they don't see with their own eyes children thriving on such a diet. So it's very easy to think that "of course vegan diets are deficient". "What?! No meat and dairy products?! Those poor children...blah blah blah..." ...add stereotype/prejudice here.

Enforcing prejudice and stereotypes, even if its not conscious, is basically all these types of articles do IMO.
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby vegieburger » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:48 pm

Feeding my human child the milk of another species just seems wierd and far from healthy. If she were a baby cow then it would be different but she is not and so I don't see a reason for her to have dairy.

I hate articles like this, the article itself is flawed, not to mention that many people just glance over the heading, any bylines, and the opening and then make their opinions based on that. I'm not even going to go to the opinion section because I'm sure there will be comments there that will make me too angry.

I see omni children everyday consuming crap yet no one assumes that just because a child is omni the must me unhealthy and at risk. What sucks is that the only time vegan children are noticed by the media is when they are unhealthy, I've read a few stories over the yrs of children starved to death, or near death and one that was fed on juice and soy milk from birth. THese are tragic instances but are the result of neglect not veganism, parents have starved omni children aswell.

My daughter is vegan, I had someone report me to community services when she was 2 because I was raising her vegan and still breast feeding her :shock: It amounted to nothing but 2 brief visits, as she is healthy and far from neglected or abused but I was offended that they even felt the need to do that. The social worker also suggested I wean her as 2 was too old to be breastfed, luckily I'd done an assignment on the health benefits of breastfeeding so I was able to make a very informed arguement as to why I was going to continue bfing her but what if I didn't have the skills to do that. I could have been pushed into weaning her and giving her cows milk just because that is the status quo in today's society. I think the fact that I had her young and was in living in public housing designated for women escaping domestic violence had more to do with why they felt they had to follow up on the complaint then just my veganism but it was still offensive and frustrating as my next door neighbour was feeding her daughter coke in a baby bottle but that was okay.

My daughter has always been above the 90th percentile for height (taller than 90%of kids her age) despite both her parents being below average height and every one who knows her knows she is healthy and full of energy, including her pediatrition who to begin with didn't believe a vegan diet would meet her dietry needs. Why can't some one do an article on children like this for once?
"No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child.
The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure."-Emma Goldman
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby seanf399 » Tue May 04, 2010 3:46 am

My children are going to eat nut butter and avocados to fatten up! sunshine and vit D and B12 supplements are super cheap. guac and beans are a meal anyway. Doctors make everything sound so complicated.
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby ekhart » Sat May 08, 2010 3:00 pm

Alott of meat eating familys are suffering from malnutrition.
majority of people are starving themselves slowly.
very sad really.
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby etherspin » Mon May 17, 2010 2:39 am

my wife is due in two months, she went vegan in 2007 and her iron etc have improved since being vegan .. her initial pregancy blood tests were superb except for vit D which is always a bit of an issue as she is extremely fair and stays out of the sun but the levels werent too bad.. every medical professional who saw her results has been highly impressed and said so to her (she waits till AFTER to mention she is vegan!!) she is 36 and her risk of birth defects was that of the average 15 year old.

however ![u][/u] caths mum is of slender build and people didnt guess she was pregnant when she was 8 months in but her kids were all good size and thus the ultrasound guy at 18 weeks said Fundal height, a measurement used to check fetal growth wont apply cause of cath and her mums build and that we might even get a bonus ultrasound at 30 weeks as a result of this.. what do you know. we have .. its coming up ..

Cath went for apptment at Frankston hosp and had remarks from nurse that she was impressed with cath managing to look healthy at this point (32 weeks) while still working full time in an intensive job (special school teacher) but when she checked records and saw Cath was vegan panic stations began!
She was an ex vegan herself and started to warn cath that veganism means less vitamins and minerals for the baby (she couldnt quote WHICH ones when Cath asked) and she said she was compelled to tell Cath about it as they have a current lawsuit from a woman who thinks her veganism harmed her baby and the hospital is at fault for not telling her ... brace yourselves, here is the most annoying bit ... Nurse says she HAS to tell Cath even though its as obvious to people that veganism harms babies as it is that smoking is bad for them.... :roll:

anyone know if government bodies in Australia have given safety statements about veganism like the American Dietetic Association ?

I dont have any doubts about the suitability of a vegan diet for infants as I've read up and have many friends with multiple healthy vegan kids, I'd just love something official to hand to any docs/midwives,nurses we come up against...
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby vegieburger » Mon May 17, 2010 4:47 am

@ etherspin I have no idea if any Aus government bodies have given safety statements about vegan kids but I too would be intereted to find out.

Sometimes former vegans can be the strongest oponents of veganism. Long before I was vegan I knew a woman who had been vegan while she was pregnant with her first child, her daughter has a mild intellectual imparment, she blamed this on her veganism. (She also took acid throughout the pregancy but didn't blame that) I wonder if the ex-vegan nurse feels compelled to tell pregnant mothers that eating kfc while they are pregnant will put their unborn child at risk?

One of the things that made me finally become vegan was a mother I met at a mothers group who had been vegan for 10yrs, and fully breatfed her daughter till almost 10mths (then she introduced vegan food while still breastfeeding) her daughter was born big and stayed big (not fat just large) and was a picture of health, and mother wasn't withering away despite having to produce enough food for a rapidly growing baby on a vegan diet. After meeting her AI ran out of excuses not to go vegan.

I had a vegan friendly dr (he was vego because he ate the odd egg) through uni but unfortunatly he left last year. The ideal situation would be to find a vegan or vego dr to be your family gp although they are few and far between. Drs are people to and get influenced by what they see in the media so if raising children vegan gets some bad publicity many drs probably will be influenced even though they should know not to believe everything they see on tv. I've found that when people encounter my daughter and see how healthy, smart and tall she is (maybe I'm a little biased) they run out of arguments, this includes drs. I've had omni teacher mention on multiple occasions how she brings the healthiest lunches to school (and before that daycare). But I also had a family daycare woman who only looked after my daughter 3 times tell me that if I didn't give her fish oil she would be brain damaged. So you will get a mixed bag of responses, especially if you are like me and don't know that many other vegans.

Goodluck and congratulations to you and yourwife
"No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child.
The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure."-Emma Goldman
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Re: Vegan kids

Postby Chelle » Mon May 17, 2010 11:14 am

@Vegieburger, definitely agree about the mixed bag. I guess it goes with the assumption that vegans hardly eat anything. Plus when people assume we only eat vegies and their kids don't eat vegies, they can't imagine what ours could eat.

My mother was worried when we first went vegan but now doesn't worry at all once she saw how we eat. We eat waaay better than we did when we were omni. My daughter refused to eat anything other than crackers for at least 6 months when she was 18 months old and low and behold, she survived with no ill health.
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