| I found this on the Vegan Society website; I was really shocked that an ill-informed article like this can be printed in a major newspaper! Yet the responses to the article from eminant dieticians were not published|
- A response to "Death by Veganism" article, New York Times
The recent "Death by Veganism" article in the New York Times by Nina Planck was clearly written in such an ill-informed manner that the only point of the article seems to have been to create publicity for the author (the article helpfully points out she's written books on how to eat healthily).
The article was based on a recent trial in the USA of two parents accused of starving their six week old child to death by feeding him a diet of fruit juice and soya milk. What the author of the piece obviously missed was the statement by Prosecutor Chuck Boring that it was not because the child was fed a vegan diet but rather that "The child died because he was not fed. Period." It's sad that missing a simple fact of the case such as this has led to an ill-informed, ill-researched and blatantly biased piece being printed.
Had the author bothered to contact such bodies as the American Dietetic Association, she'd have been advised by them that "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." (J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Jun;103(6):748-65.)
Eminent dietitians (Jack Norris, Brenda Davis and our very own Stephen Walsh) have responded directly to the New York Times, but have been informed there isn't going to be a response printed other than on the letters page.
We're sending a copy of Feeding Your Vegan Infant (a book written by Sandra Hood and published by The Vegan Society) to the New York Times and Nina Planck to enable them to research such articles before showcasing their ignorance to the world.
Vegan Society CEO Nigel Winter states "It is a great shame that a newspaper with such a reputation as the New York Times has allowed such a factually inaccurate article to be published. I hope that they will publish a full correction and check facts before publication in the future."
And here's the original article:
- Death by Veganism
By NINA PLANCK
Published: May 21, 2007
WHEN Crown Shakur died of starvation, he was 6 weeks old and weighed 3.5 pounds. His vegan parents, who fed him mainly soy milk and apple juice, were convicted in Atlanta recently of murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty.
This particular calamity — at least the third such conviction of vegan parents in four years — may be largely due to ignorance. But it should prompt frank discussion about nutrition.
I was once a vegan. But well before I became pregnant, I concluded that a vegan pregnancy was irresponsible. You cannot create and nourish a robust baby merely on foods from plants.
Indigenous cuisines offer clues about what humans, naturally omnivorous, need to survive, reproduce and grow: traditional vegetarian diets, as in India, invariably include dairy and eggs for complete protein, essential fats and vitamins. There are no vegan societies for a simple reason: a vegan diet is not adequate in the long run.
Protein deficiency is one danger of a vegan diet for babies. Nutritionists used to speak of proteins as “first class” (from meat, fish, eggs and milk) and “second class” (from plants), but today this is considered denigrating to vegetarians.
The fact remains, though, that humans prefer animal proteins and fats to cereals and tubers, because they contain all the essential amino acids needed for life in the right ratio. This is not true of plant proteins, which are inferior in quantity and quality — even soy.
A vegan diet may lack vitamin B12, found only in animal foods; usable vitamins A and D, found in meat, fish, eggs and butter; and necessary minerals like calcium and zinc. When babies are deprived of all these nutrients, they will suffer from retarded growth, rickets and nerve damage.
Responsible vegan parents know that breast milk is ideal. It contains many necessary components, including cholesterol (which babies use to make nerve cells) and countless immune and growth factors. When breastfeeding isn’t possible, soy milk and fruit juice, even in seemingly sufficient quantities, are not safe substitutes for a quality infant formula.
Yet even a breast-fed baby is at risk. Studies show that vegan breast milk lacks enough docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, the omega-3 fat found in fatty fish. It is difficult to overstate the importance of DHA, vital as it is for eye and brain development.
A vegan diet is equally dangerous for weaned babies and toddlers, who need plenty of protein and calcium. Too often, vegans turn to soy, which actually inhibits growth and reduces absorption of protein and minerals. That’s why health officials in Britain, Canada and other countries express caution about soy for babies. (Not here, though — perhaps because our farm policy is so soy-friendly.)
Historically, diet honored tradition: we ate the foods that our mothers, and their mothers, ate. Now, your neighbor or sibling may be a meat-eater or vegetarian, may ferment his foods or eat them raw. This fragmentation of the American menu reflects admirable diversity and tolerance, but food is more important than fashion. Though it’s not politically correct to say so, all diets are not created equal.
An adult who was well-nourished in utero and in infancy may choose to get by on a vegan diet, but babies are built from protein, calcium, cholesterol and fish oil. Children fed only plants will not get the precious things they need to live and grow.
Nina Planck is the author of “Real Food: What to Eat and Why.”