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« Well, Hitler Was a Vegetarian Too | Main | A Really Simple Math Problem »

May 21, 2007

Comments

Kenji

What I'm curious about is that there are certain religious groups that practice vegetarianism (presumably for every member, including children) and appear to have endured? What explains this?

Abiola

"traditional vegetarian diets, as in India, invariably include dairy and eggs for complete protein, essential fats and vitamins."

Of course, by the standards of vegetarians who would exclude Hitler on the grounds of his supposed liking for the odd boiled egg, this disqualifies all Indians from vegetarian status ...

JoshuaOshua

Nina Planck should be ashamed that she used the neglect and eventual murder of a child to further her book sales. "I was once a vegan", she writes - as if she was led from the darkness.

Nina Plank is not a nutritionist, a doctor, or a dietician. Her expertise is in farmers' markets, local food, and writing. Once a congressional staffer and speechwriter, Nina knows the business of spin.

Could it be, that as the owner of "London Farmers' Markets", a $6 million annual business that makes much of it's money from the sales of whole milk, eggs, and meat, that Nina is protecting an income from a growing movement that focuses on plant-based foods?

One thing that Nina and many vegans do agree on is that Farmers' Markets and organic, local foods are incredibly important to support (at least as far as the fruits, veggies, and plants go). Factory farms and agribusiness are responsible for the worst in animal cruelty and Franken-foods.

The Shakur tragedy has nothing to do with veganism, per se. This is a case of horrible neglect. Any parent knows that soymilk and apple juice are not suitable as replacements for infant formula or mother's milk. And if they don’t, every box of soymilk says "this is not infant formula" on it in some form.

Nina’s unprofessional assessment that “You cannot create and nourish a robust baby merely on foods from plants” Is simply incorrect. As a filmmaker and documentarian who has worked on a documentary about vegan parenting, I have seen the healthy, robust vegan children first-hand.

Many doctors, dieticians and nutritionists disagree with Nina, including the American Dietetic Association. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), "well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence."

The key phrase is “well-planned” and every parent should have a “well-planned” diet for their child, as should adolescents and adults.

Plenty of cases of severe child abuse and nutritional neglect occur in non-vegan households, and likewise there are plenty of healthy, vegan children. In this case, the media and authorities are just looking for something to lay the blame on, and since Veganism is not mainstream, and has many health-myths attached to it, it is an easy target.

Nina’s complete misrepresentation and misunderstanding of Veganism is evident in her subscription to typical and antiquated myths about protein, calcium, vitamins A, D and B12, claiming that vegans are basically lucky to be surviving. There is a reason that nutritionists “used to speak of proteins as “first class” (from meat, fish, eggs and milk) and “second class” (from plants)” that has nothing to do with hurting vegetarians’ feelings. It is simply incorrect and outdated.

Americans are protein obsessed, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a board-certified family physician specializing in disease reversal and prevention. In his book “Disease Proof your Child”, he says the mainstream media and advertisers who profit from the meat and dairy industries perpetuate the fallacy about our need for excessive amounts of protein.

According to Dr. Fuhrman, “Humans, like other primates, are designed to consume a diet predominating in natural plant foods with their symphony of essential phytochemicals. Fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, raw nuts and seeds should form the foundation of normal nutrition.” He explains that there is protein in almost everything edible. Look at the horse, the giraffe, the hippo, the Grey-Back Gorilla with nine-inch fangs – all vegetarians. How do they get so huge and strong? Certainly not by eating a steak or fish-filet!

According to Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D., “It is very easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommendations for protein, as long as calorie intake is adequate. Strict protein combining is not necessary; it is more important to eat a varied diet throughout the day.”
(http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.htm)

The myth that fish are the only source of ‘complete’ amino acids is also totally false, according to Dr. Mangels.

Just because you avoid animal products, however, does not automatically mean you’re healthy. If you include seaweed, nutritional yeast (tastes like cheese!), fortified soymilk, green leafy veggies (kale, collards, spinach) and other fresh fruits and veggies as well as healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, nuts and seeds in your diet, you have nothing to worry about.

I addition to being healthy, veganism can be the greenest lifestyle for those concerned with their ecological or carbon footprint. In a groundbreaking 2006 report, the United Nations (U.N.) said that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld reported that the meat industry is “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.”

Veganism can be one of the healthiest diets. Vegetarian and vegan athletes are everywhere. From Hank Aaron (pro baseball player), to Steve Berra (pro skateboarder), to Andreas Cahling (champion bodybuilder), to Debbie Lawrence (5k record holder), to Martina Navratilova (champion tennis player), to Robert Parnish (pro basketball player), these athletes show that the stereotype of vegetarians and vegans being weak and frail is total nonsense.

Nina Planck is just a hack trying to protect her future profits and sell books. There is no reason to believe her opinions or food preferences over anyone else’s, unless of course they are doctors, nutritionists, and dieticians or the American Dietetic Association.

Kenji

I think dairy and eggs are better than nothing, but I would still think that not eating meat would potentially create problems particularly after the child is weaned (e.g., iron deficiency, inadequate vitamin B12). It's not impossible to get these nutrients from vegetarian sources, but children are very picky---Try forcing a baby or toddler to eat broccoli for iron, if meat is not an option! That's why I'm still puzzled by how these vegetarian communities have survived...

Abiola

Kenji,

Here's part of the answer for you.

"It is true that Hindu vegans living in certain parts of India do not suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. This has led some to conclude that plant foods do provide this vitamin. This conclusion is erroneous, however, because many small insects, their faeces, eggs, larvae and/or residue, are left on the plant foods these people consume, due to non-use of pesticides and inefficient cleaning methods. This is how these people obtain their vitamin B12. This contention is borne out by the fact that when vegan Indian Hindus migrated to England, they came down with megaloblastic anaemia within a few years. In England, the food supply is cleaner and insect residues are completely removed from plant foods."

Sourced from

http://www.nexusmagazine.com/articles/vegemyths1.html

JoshuaOshua,

Nothing impresses me less than seeing the names of people cited with "Ph.D., R.D" and the like attached after them, as these are near-certain giveaways of quackery: not even the likes of Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins need to tell you they have PhDs to make their argument, and this is something only quack propagandists do. I am not impressed in the least by your repeated references to the "American Dietetic Association" either: where are your references to truly reputable organizations like the AMA or the BMA? Where are your citations of peer-reviewed studies I can look up in PubMed? You may have convinced yourself that you have a firm basis for your beliefs, but the tons of peer-reviewed scientific research I've seen on the subject is clear: veganism is both thoroughly unnatural and extremely dangerous, and without access to vitamin and protein supplements (usually sourced from animal products), most vegans of any age living in developed countries would not be long for this world.

Kenji

Thanks, Abiola. It sure makes a lot of sense!

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