Vegan Diet and Children
Although not a vegan, I'm not unsympathetic to it having tried twice in the past (and failed) and have been a vegetarian for a good chunk of my life before those tasty fishes started to sneak their way onto my plate.
So, I was interested to read of the recent case in France, where a vegan couple are facing trial on a charge of child neglect after the baby died aged 11 months.
Weighing just 5.7kg when she should have weighed around 8kg, she was fed entirely on mothers milk from her vegan mother. An autopsy found her to be suffering from a lack of vitamins A and B12 which is notoriously absent in a vegan diet though can be added using supplements.
Yet there are many vegan mothers who bring up their children to be healthy so what went wrong in this case.
Vegans argue that a baby breast fed by a vegan mother will not have the same level of toxins found in a meat eating mothers milk. This seems to make sense due to the chemicals used in animal production. And providing that a sensible mix of food groups is followed and reasonable care taken to supplement vitamins that may be in short supply in a vegan diet, especially B12, then a vegan diet should suffice. One tricky aspect of feeding a child a vegan diet is that it tends to be high in fibre which can leave the child feeling full before he has has taken in sufficient nutrition, so this needs to be monitored.
Even according to the NHS website, a vegan diet can be healthy as long as care is taken.
So what went wrong in the French couple's case?
Well, we will probably have to wait until the trial to find out the exact details, but suspicion perhaps lies in their alternative beliefs.
Most of us I think would find, for example, the Jehovah Witnesses refusal to accept a blood transfusion for their child to be abhorent, yet, we just tend to think 'eccentric and cranky' those who, for example, may rub a childs stomach with a crystal when he has severe diarrhoea.
It's understandable and to a degree perhaps healthy, to be suspicious of some medicines given the power of the drug companies, however, the vast majority of them are positive and often life saving or at least enhancing.
But it seems that some people just believe what they want to believe without any scientific foundation. These are probably the same people that believe lizards run the planet !!
There are many bizarre and totally unfounded 'alternative' therapies out there. Some may simply be used to treat for example, a pimple. At worst these treatments are probably only going to ruin your finances and not your health, but it truly amazes me what some people put their faith in.
If an adult wants to make the choice to ignore conventional medicine and treat his life threatening disease with crystals or rebirthing therapy, then that's fine with me .. it's their life. However, surely every parent will do anything to protect their child and that in the very least must mean taking professional advice and putting some trust in those that actually know what they are talking about and not just wishful thinking!