Vegetarianism Is Child Abuse?

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I have nothing personally against vegetarians–I lived with a vegan girlfriend for 4 years and one of my sisters is a vegetarian.

However, it does seem that the human gut evolved to digest meat. New research by nutritionist Lindsay Allen of the University of California at Davis supports this view and finds:

Meat is a vital part of a child's diet, according to a two-year study of Kenyan schoolkids. Without it, children grow up smaller, less strong and less intelligent…Children in the meat-supplemented group showed up to an 80% greater increase in upper-arm muscle compared with the non-supplemented children; for milk drinkers, this figure was 40%.

Kids who were fed meat also outperformed their peers in tests of intelligence, problem solving and arithmetic. "The group that received the meat supplements were more active in the playground, more talkative and playful, and showed more leadership skills," Allen said.

Allen's study turns the usual vegetarian claim to moral superiority on its head when he concludes that bringing up children as vegans is unethical.

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  1. Oh my. I predict Lindsay Allen will be beaten to death with a large squash.

  2. Christ, Ron, the veg heads are going to be all over this one..

  3. I have nothing personally against vegetarians–I lived with a vegan girlfriend for 4 years and one of my sisters is a vegetarian.

    Oh B.S. Living with a vegan would drive anyone to have ‘something against’ them. My wife is a former vegetarian. And unlike Jules in Pulp Fiction, my wife being a vegetarian did not ‘pretty much make me a vegetarian’.

    In fact, for my wife, living with a meat eater made her pretty tired of vegetarians. She’s now an unrepentant meat eater. Her favorite animal is steak.

    Oh, and little unscientific poll here. I remember in the early to mid-nineties I met more and more people who were or had recently become vegetarians. Now I’m officially meeting more and more people who are ex-vegetarians… anyone else notice the same trend? Vegetarians exempt from raising their hands as I know it’ll be difficult in your weakened state.

  4. See, this is why we have all those pointy, sharp-edged teeth. If we were meant to graze, we’d have a mouthful of molars, and a smile like Barney the Dinosaur.

  5. we’d have a mouthful of molars, and a smile like Barney the Dinosaur.

    You forgot, and a gut with two or more stomachs and a much longer digestive tracts.

    Paul

  6. Paul,

    I actually think I’m meeting more vegetarians these days than, say, 5-10 years ago. I travel in academic circles, where vegetarians are probably over-represented. There are enough of them that at some social functions the omnivores are outnumbered.
    I was involved with a vegetarian (but not a vegan, thankfully) for about 16 months, and that ended up making me close to a vegetarian as well. I’ve since reverted to eating (a small amount of) meat, but going veggie didn’t bother me at all. I’ve recently taken up with another vegetarian, so we’ll see how that goes….

  7. Let’s try to keep in mind that we’re talking about 2 spoonfuls of meat a day. For those of you who are looking for empirical proof that a human’s natural state is to eat only gazelle direct from the carcass, keep on moving. Nothing to see here.

  8. I’m not a vegetarian. And having lived and dated them, I’ll openly admit they annoy me.

    However this study is total crap. He supplemented protein deficient kids with meat and concluded that meat is therefore essential.

    Tofu would probably have done the same. Is there some kind of veganism epidemic in Africa? I could sworn it was starvation.

  9. “However this study is total crap. He supplemented protein deficient kids with meat and concluded that meat is therefore essential.

    hear, hear!

    Did the study also show that children who eat protein also tend to live longer?

  10. Public education and all forms of emotion-based esteem building should also be considered child abuse.

  11. In the mid-’90s I happened to have a meal with a rather New Agey massage therapist, and the conversation turned to food. She said she’d noticed a large number of clients who complained of lethargy, lack of focus, etc. Asked if they were vegetarians, they always said yes. She started recommending they eat meat 2-3 times a week, and to just think of it as medicine. And sure enough, when they came back a month later, they would have a spring in their step and talking about how good they felt.

  12. Oh B.S. Living with a vegan would drive anyone to have ‘something against’ them.

    I’m with Paul on this one. Had a vegan roomate for one year in college. Every time we ate dinner together, I felt the need to apologize for eating, well, whatever I wanted from the cafeteria, while she subsisted on salad, raisins, tofu, and artichoke hearts. Every meal, she’d sit there, with more than a hint of supremacy in her flavorless mouthfuls, while I’d gingerly savor the meat-biproduct feature of the evening.
    Thankfully, eventually she gave veganism up, and that dark part of our friendship is buried deep in ancient history, along with the discarded carcasses of Tofurkeys past….
    …but on rare, sleepless nights, her late-night, Finals Week tofu-ice-cream and bean burrito runs still haunt me…

  13. She said she’d noticed a large number of clients who complained of lethargy, lack of focus, etc. Asked if they were vegetarians, they always said yes.

    My attempt at humor (above) aside, I can tell you that all of the ex-vegetarians I do meet almost always reported the same personal conclusions: 1: They admitted to themselves that they just derned like the taste of meat and 2: they got tired of being hungry all the time.

    I used to work with a vegan, and I remember clearly that food was a ‘regimen’, not really something he took pleasure in. (I have no knowledge of his dietary state now). He constantly ate- he constantly had to take in calories. It just didn’t seem, well, fun.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetarians- especially sauteed in butter.

    Also, for the record, while I love anything that devils vegetarians (my now-converted wife will testify to that), I highly suspected this study before I posted my first comment. A study of kids in Kenya? I think that given the state of Africa as a whole, we can say that kids in Kenya probably face a lot more threats to their well-being than meat/no-meat diets. I’d imagine that there are other factors that go into the conclusions that the study didn’t take into account.

    Paul

  14. Who the hell would even consider a vegan or vegitarian girlfriend. If she don’t eat tube-steak, forget-about-it.

    Honey, I swear it’s protein and good for you.

  15. so does this literally make the LP a sausage party?

  16. I can tell you that all of the ex-vegetarians I do meet almost always reported the same personal conclusions

    From my college experience, vegetarians generally fell into two categories.

    Either they were really into food and enjoyed cooking and eating exotic stuff while doing what they thought was ethical, or…

    They were bitter moralists who gulped their bland food while looking at your eat your little plate of Auschwitz with thinly buried hate.

    The first generally managed to stay veg while the second didn’t, and generally picked up some smoking and heavy drinking at some point too. I really have no problem with vegetarians. It’s only those that have to fill their little cup of self-righteousness to motivate themselves instead of just enjoying it.

  17. Well this guy walked the entire 2,168 mile Appalachian Trail at 50 and he’s a vegan. And he even sits on the Reason Foundation Business Advisory Board.

  18. Pavel,

    As to your two categories of vegetarians, I think I encountered the same people in college. Spot on. I believe my friend fell in the latter category, as she did eventually begin drinking alcohol also, along with her return to meat-eating.

    “Ham is good. Porkchops are good.” – John Travolta, Pulp Fiction

  19. Well this guy walked the entire 2,168 mile Appalachian Trail at 50 and he’s a vegan. And he even sits on the Reason Foundation Business Advisory Board.

    Again, while many of us do love to devil vegetarians, using an individual as ‘evidence’ of the success of this diet or that can be highly dubious.

    For instance, there’s this interesting phenomenon.

    Some people are just healthy. This 50 year old could have probably done it if he was a meat eater who drank and even smoked occasionally. I believe that the guinness books oldest living man drank, and took up smoking at the age of 76. (Don’t quote me on the exact numbers).

    I have a theory on longevity. At birth, your genes dictate that you will live to N years. Your diet and health habits will add or subtract years from that number. The formula might look something like this: a = (n – b) + g

    ‘a’ being ‘age at death’, ‘n’ being number of years given by genetics, ‘b’ bad habits and ‘g’ being good habits.

    I’m presenting at the Royal Society next month.

    Paul

  20. Forgive me if this was pointed out already, I didn’t read all the comments.

    I was surprised by the text Mr. Bailey excerpted so I went to the full article. Huh. These are kids in KENYA. Not wealthy, and healthy, kids in a western country.

    I’d say the likelihood for vastly skewed results is pretty good with this study when the general development and health of kids is lower to begin with. You could probably supplement the kids with any type of extra food and they’d show the same results compared to non-supplemented kids.

  21. Paul, I don’t think you need to eat meat to get all the nutritions it provides. Plenty of vitamins and supplements. I’ve even seem some overweight vegans. I’m a confirmed meat eater, but I know plenty of super healthy Veg-Heads. It depends on how you exercise or whether you’re a couch potato.

  22. Actually BillyRay, you’re right, you can totally get the right nutrition from other sources, even if you don’t eat meat. Totally vegan? Tougher, for sure. I have a good friend who is mostly a vegetarian, but supplements with seafood. He’s also a physical trainer, and in pretty damn good shape.

  23. BillyRay

    Paul, I don’t think you need to eat meat to get all the nutritions it provides. Plenty of vitamins and supplements.

    Other than some indirectly snappy remarks from my first post, I never suggested otherwise. I believe that humans can safely make a variety of dietary choices and be healthy. However, the tempo and rate of intake changes dramatically depending on those dietary choices, ergo my vegan former co-worker who, as I stated above treated eating and food in general as a round-the-clock regimen.

    I do believe the vegetarians can suffer from protien deficiencies, but they just have to make it up in different areas- and it takes more work.

  24. “…and generally picked up some smoking and heavy drinking at some point too”

    Some college students are vegetarians and some are not. But you can’t have the “some smoking and heavy drinking” as an important identifying characteristic. Maybe you have a bad memory, but most college students are heavy drinkers who do some smoking at parties.

  25. I had the same thoughts as many above–somehow a study in Kenya doesn’t seem like the best test of whether it’s possible to find a veg diet for children that compensates for the absence of meat. It doesn’t even *really* sound like they tried in a systematic way, beyond demonstrating that meat was superior to whatever particular supplement they used in the control group.

    Incidentally, as a vegetarian of something like 13 years now, lemme say: I like meat just fine, and it wasn’t any particularly big deal to give it up. To paraphrase another Pulp Fiction charater from the same conversation: Toddler may taste like pumkin pie, but I ain’t gonna eat the fucker.

  26. Jaisn:

    The comparison was between kids who were supplemented with calorie equivalents of meat, milk, and vegetable oils. So the differences are between the various diets, not just because the kids are poor (though, of course, that’s a bad thing). For more details see URL: http://www.nutraingredients.com/news/news-ng.asp?id=58215-meat-milk-have

  27. my vegan former co-worker who, as I stated above treated eating and food in general as a round-the-clock regimen.

    Paul, you’re right! They do spend lots of time eating I’ve noticed too. :>) I just joke that a nice 16oz NY strip with baked potato and salad is not as much work.

    Exercise is what’s important. Those that workout on a regular basis, or just walk 1 mile a day tend to have more energy than those that don’t. Also I’m a firm believer in adult beverages in moderation. I don’t think there’s any question that it makes for a healthier heart!

  28. Julian Sanchez:
    Toddler may taste like pumkin pie, but I ain’t gonna eat the fucker.

    I don’t eat toddler’s because they’re charming. Otherwise, I loooove toddler.

    Oh, and that lethargy you feel, Mr. Sanchez, could be cleared right up with one of my steaks straight off the grille.

    (I know, I just can’t help myself- it’s pathology, I’m sure)

    Paul

  29. Ron:
    I don’t think that adequately accounts for the differences between a poor and more adequate diet, though. For two children generally ill-fed, the marginal benefits of some element of meat in the diet may be huge. It doesn’t follow that comparable benefits accrue to a child who’s already well-nourished (on a meatless diet). There may, for instance, be some nutrient threshhold that’s more easily reached with meat than veg food, such that below it substituting meat for veg yields and improvement, but past which (however reached) no extra good is done by substituting meat for veg.

  30. “Oh B.S. Living with a vegan would drive anyone to have ‘something against’ them. My wife is a former vegetarian. And unlike Jules in Pulp Fiction, my wife being a vegetarian did not ‘pretty much make me a vegetarian’.”

    It depends on the person. When my ex-girlfriend started receiving PETA propaganda mailings, I found my self constantly being lectured about everything I ate, wore, or did if it somehow involved an animal. It put a serious damper on a dinner out when you get dirty looks from your SO if you dare order a steak. Her suddenly switch to veganism/animal rights kookery was one of the many reason she choose to dump me.

    Oh, the fact that I hunt didn’t help either.

  31. Incidentally, as far as eating being a “round the clock regimen,” that’s really closer to how people should eat. Rather than three large calorie dumps into your body a day, calories should be spread out into 5-6 smaller periods.

  32. Rather than three large calorie dumps into your body a day, calories should be spread out into 5-6 smaller periods.

    I actually agree. If for no other reason than it helps with digestion, avoids acid reflux, and probably helps people’s weight stay in control. However, there was something subtle… something different about the (co-worker’s) vegan approach. It was a job. It was… a chore. It just seemed like work. It’s hard to explain.

    My wife- former veg (everyone knows by now) eats that way now- but she doesn’t do it consciously- she just does it that way because she prefers it. It doesn’t seem like work…

    Wait a minute- it’s my wife, fer chrissakes. I’m the one doing the work- I just realized that it’s me getting the ‘snacky-poo’ all day long… I now realize the genius of it.

    Paul

  33. Actually, a place like Kenya is a great place to test for something like this. For one thing, while the veg heads will defend their diet to the death, it is pretty unnatural to have access to all the fruits and vegetables of the world— before the 19th century you pretty much ate what grew nearby. Nor did you have access to synthetic diet supplments, vitamins, and all the other tools neccessary to thrive on an all veg diet. Fact is, eating meat is the natural diet; vegetarianism is pretty much the result of an excess of wealth and technology that allows people to compensate for what is, on its own, a seriously deficient dietary scheme. Without modern transportation and nutriotional technology, most vegetarians would be a slow, stupid, weak shell of a human.

  34. I know a few vegetarians who regularly eat meat. I guess they spend over 99% of their time not eating meat, so the difference between that and 100% is not “statistically significant”.

    One of these vegetarians is a lesbian who last week thought she was pregnant. Maybe I just hang out with strange people…

  35. “Without modern transportation and nutriotional technology, most vegetarians would be a slow, stupid, weak shell of a human.”

    You must be talking about the automatonic zombies that work at the corner Vegan Health Food Co-Op.

  36. I would like to see a long-term study of the effects of veganism on children, specifically their digestive systems.

    You know how Americans are warned not to drink the water when we visit places like Mexico and India? It’s because their water supplies are filled with various microbes and things which our coddled American immune systems can’t handle, though of course a Mexican child who had drunk such water since birth would have little trouble with it. Likewise, I wonder–if people aren’t exposed to animal proteins in their youth, does this somehow affect their ability to handle them when they’re older? If so, then I’d say veganism IS tantamount to abuse of a child; it’s one thing for a parent to say, “I won’t let you eat steak and eggs today,” it’s another matter entirely for a parent to fix things so that their child could NEVER eat such foods.

  37. “it is pretty unnatural to have access to all the fruits and vegetables of the world”…

    Yeah, which is why using a more “natural” environment to draw general conclusions about the consequences of a vegan or vegetarian diet is stupid. As you may have noticed, some of us /do/ have access to modern transportation technology, making the results of this study largely irrelevant. If the point is that parents in the developing world should give their kids meat, well, woohoo. Why (for practical rather than sympathetic purposes) should the rest of us care?

  38. I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years, and I feel pretty good. But I’m usually first in line to declare that it is a luxury to be vegetarian (a la Toxic’s post). If I was really hungry, you can bet I’d eat the closest, most unfortunate squirrel, rabbit, cow, whatever.

    And, being a libertarian vegetarian, I don’t care what you eat.

    And I think those road-kill gummies are a riot.

  39. Lots of good stuff on the web. One thing for sure, I could never be a Vegan. Scanned through the vegan and kids section and geeesh, you miss out on all the fun stuff. Ice cream for example. Eating tofu, forget it. Gimmme some BBQ or steak. But do eat plenty of veggies and fruit.

    VEGAN DIETS AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT: WHAT’S THE REAL EVIDENCE?

  40. if i could figure out how to combine steak and tofu in the same dish, i’d shit myself.

    maybe grilled steak with fried tofu on the side?

  41. Let’s try to keep in mind that we’re talking about 2 spoonfuls of meat a day. For those of you who are looking for empirical proof that a human’s natural state is to eat only gazelle direct from the carcass, keep on moving. Nothing to see here.

    Well, it doesn’t matter if its two spoonfuls or two tonnes of meat, its still more than a vegetarian will eat.

  42. if i could figure out how to combine steak and tofu in the same dish, i’d shit myself.

    Come to my house. This is one of the wife’s concoctions for the Bimbi. Other pureed delights include butternut squash and yogurt, tofu and pears, some sort of weird ass chicken custard, and anything involving bananas. Damn does that kid love bananas.

    Oh, and if you shit yourself, just don’t expect me to clean it up. One 13 lb crap-o-tronic is enough for me.

  43. Mr. or Ms. Toxic:

    Just because humans evolved to be omnivores — probably in order to make ther best of the very inconsistent food supply you mention — that doesn’t mean a diet that includes meat is the best one. The development of agriculture and an understanding of how the body and nutrients work through a few thousand years of civilization mean that we can plot optimal diets to deliver all the nutrients we need, and limit our consumption of many of the unhealthy things we don’t. Vegetarians, vegans and all sorts of in-between mystics can do so with or without red meat, poultry, fish, tofu or Grape Nuts. It’s choice! It’s Dynamistic!

    I say this as someone planning to have a beef tongue sandwich this evening and itching to try that new pit barbecue that opened north of town this weekend. But that’s a choice I’m making even as I’m pretty sure I’d be better off getting my protein and iron from a tofu-broccoli stir-fry.

    It’s creepy but par for the course that Mr. Bailey has the nerve to twist a study of what appears to be the benefit of adding protein- and iron-rich food to the diet of malnourished Kenyan kids into evidence of the inferiority and even immorality of vegetarianism.

  44. You know how Americans are warned not to drink the water when we visit places like Mexico and India?

    This brings up a good point.

    I think the relative importance of a vegetarian vs. omnivore diet is pretty slim compared to well we (and the flora in our guts) are adjusted to our environment. There’s plenty of examples. Indian diets are often vegetarian. Yet an all meat Inuit diet would probably kill anyone but an Inuit (while they do very well on almost nothing but fish oils).

    Dairy is another thing. Most of the world can’t digest dairy. It is largely central/eastern European descendents that have the preconditions necessary to use it.

    America’s just a mishmash of everything. Which can be nice, but it’s probably a large reason why we go around burping and farting and spending all our money on anti-acids.

  45. My wife was raised as a vegetarian and she didn’t suffer any development problems, as evidenced by her tennis scholarship. Yes, I know this is anecdotal and doesn’t prove shit.

  46. This Kenyan study seems pretty useless. So eating meat is better than eating an equal caloric amount of vegetable oil? What an astounding surprise! I bet meat would be healthier than an equal caloric amount of Coca Cola as well.

    To test the benefits of a carnivorous diet versus a vegan one you’d need to test meat against protein sources such as beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, etc. I don’t think many vegans try to supplement the missing protein in their children’s diet by feeding them spoonfuls of vegetable oil.

  47. More anecdotal evidence: here’s a well-developed, athletic young man who eats nothing but jam sandwiches.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/suffolk/4305065.stm

    I’m surprised at the fervor of some of the anti-vegitarians on the list. The description of two types of vegetarians on this list resonated with me; I tend to think of them as vegetarians concerned about what they eat themselves (like me) and vegetarians who are conerned about what other people eat (and these folks can be quite unpleasant). What I haven’t encountered until now are omnivores in the second category–quite concerned about what the vegetarians aren’t eating. They strike me as pretty unpleasant as well.

  48. I’m surprised at the fervor of some of the anti-vegitarians on the list.

    Well, most of us have encountered rather obnoxious vegetarians and (especially) vegans. Hostility breeds hostility. I myself like meat, but I don’t need it at every meal.

  49. I’m surprised by the protein obsession of many anti-vegetarians. It’s like they’ve never heard of beans.

    One strong counter example to the vegetarianism makes you weak hypothesis: The Sikhs are vegetarians, yet are renowned as warriors. Among the asses they have kicked are many meat eaters.

    The bounds of what constitutes a balanced diet for humans are really, really loose. We evolved eating whatever crap was handy, and our digestive system reflects that. Just eat a varied diet and you’ll be OK. If you choose to cut out certain things, no problem – just keep it varied, and if you experience cravings, indulge them. Chances are good that it’s your body telling you that you need more of some nutrient in the craved food.

    One oddball observation that supports my approach: in parts of Africa pregnant women eat dirt from termite mounds. The dirt is rich in iron, and the fact that it’s from a termite mound means it’s from deep under the ground, therefore less likely to contain human-specific bacteria. Somehow this habit developed without any knowledge of the importance of iron for pregnant women. The body knows things but you have to listen to it.

  50. Nice to hear from other double ‘tarians like Julian. I’m a LT veg of the former, foodie type, and never constipated </tmi>. Veg food is usually cheaper and spoils less spectacularly and odiferously than meat (dairy being in-between). I’ve since relapsed a bit, but after I went vegan I had much greater variety in my diet (excepting meat, of course).

    Billy Ray, vegan “ice cream” is goooood, and much lower-cal — about 1/3 that of B&J — with no cholesterol. Try Tofutti or Soy Delicious. And firm tofu is good fried, and much cheaper protein than meat. Good in Thai food.

    Maybe some of the “zombie” veges are just Buddhists being slow, deliberate and mindful. Also, that UC Davis woman seems to be in league with animal husbandrists.

  51. Mr. Kingsley is right. This study is basically useless. All it proves is that there is something in meat that is good for people, which is not exactly ground-breaking. There should have been a control group included that was fed a vegetarian supplement with similar levels of protein, iron, etc to meat. Unfortunately just because something is published in Nature does not mean it has any validity.

  52. Yes being that the control was vegetable oil, the study itself is fairly useless. What does it prove? That calories that contain vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients make kenyians healthier than empty calories? That eating real food is healthier for kenyians than empty calories + supplements? Vegetable oil contains almost zero nutrients other than fat. It really is “junk food”.

    And arguing against vegetarianism because it benefits from modern conveniences is also a rather weak argument. The whole of modern food production depends on modern conveniences and animal production more so than other parts perhaps.

    Also why do you think it is that in Kenya “animal source foods, especially meat products, are consumed by less than 14 per cent of children and usually in small amounts (less than 17 grams a day)”. Is most everyone in Kenya a principled vegetarian or are there underlying economic realities at work? I would bet on the latter.

  53. Well, as to “what does this study prove,” the first thing it made me think of was a vegan friend of mine who insists that the main reason I’m so scrawny is that I eat meat (it’s not–I’m scrawny because that’s what happens to people who go to the gym once every three months). I’ve definitely seen a lot of veggie propaganda that argues that eating meat is actively bad for you, and you’d just be healthier if you’d cut all that meat out of your diet. Even if tofu is just as good for you, this pretty clearly shows that meat isn’t bad for you. Likewise, I’ve read in a few different places that vegetarianism is the “natural” state of a human; this study should at least suggest that if it is a natural state, it’s not the only one.

  54. I’m perfectly willing to believe that a vegan can eat a wide enough range of foods to make eating meat unnecessary for his own health. That being said, if one looks down his nose at me for eating a cheeseburger, or at his ovo/lacto-veggie pal who enjoys a nice Denver omelet, don’t be surprised if I snark back at him. That whole “meat is murder” crap gets old real fast, and especially ironic coming from neo-hippies with NARAL stickers on their Priuses.

    I use a simple standard when choosing which animals to eat. If the beast seems to smart, I don’t want it on the menu. So no Flipper or Shamu for me, and no Koko either.

    Andrew:

    Anyone who has eaten enough beans has heard of them. Hearing isn’t the only sense they help exercise, either. 🙂 I don’t fear that cattle will be announced as potential sapient beings, but sometimes I worry about pigs. `Course, if swine were really smart, they’d figure out a way not to taste so good barbecued.

    Kevin

  55. B12 is a nutritional requirement for humans and the only way to ingest it, sans supplements, is from animal products. This requirement is a ramification of our evolutionary heritage. Something else that worries me about the vegan diet is that there might be an equivalent, in animal products, to the phyto nutrients in plants that are extra to vitamins and minerals. The vegan diet would, of course, miss these.

    I think that the worst rap against mammal meat and cheese (feta cheese might be an exception) is that it causes inflammation, which is a precursor to many diseases. (One of the reasons aspirin is good for you is that it’s anti-inflammatory-the spice, turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory as well as a potent anti-oxidant. It’s in curry but I use it in soups, on fish and egg dishes as well) So, I eat lots of fish and chicken but little mammal meat. BTW, not all milk products are inflammatory. Yogurt isn’t.

  56. Ostensibly the reason this nutritionist is saying that veganism is child abuse is because most vegan parents are probably not able to nutritionally balance their children’s diets well enough. That is, most parents are not nutritionists.

    The study is essentially unrelated.

  57. Rick, what about mammalian products causes inflammation? The lipids? If so, wouldn’t skim milk work?

  58. If we weren’t meant to eat meat, why did our ancestors come with all those devices for killing animals?

  59. I’m a very good cook, and I love trying exotic foods. I eat meat, but I don’t like eating something like a large steak. It tastes good, but it’s sort of bland, uninteresting. I think I probably get less than the USDA’s recommended servings of meat daily (probably more of dairy), and I don’t think becoming a vegetarian would be a problem for me.

    However, I think vegetarian moralists are misguided and idiotic. Animals do not and should not enjoy the same or even similar moral status to humans. The food issue doesn’t bother me very much, but there’s a definite slippery slope here: if it’s immoral to eat animals, why would it be moral to use them in medical research. Medicines based on animal research have saved millions or possibly billions of lives (e.g. the smallpox vaccine), and I think that any moral theory which indicates that this research is immoral is wrong.

  60. I wouldn’t call the study useless, exactly. It does show that malnourished people on a diet completely lacking in iron and protein benefit from the addition of meat, which is rich in iron and protein.

    Adding soybeans and broccoli probably would have had similar benefits, but the study didn’t check this, either because it was beyond the scope of what the study was meant to ascertain, or maybe because it was funded by Hormel or the National Beef Council or something. Who knows?

    What’s harder to excuse, though, is Mr. Bailey’s misappropriation of the study to attack meatless diets in general. As a self-described “science correspondent” he either knows better and is willing once again to play loose with facts in order to push an industry agenda, or he doesn’t know how to read the simplest pop-sci summary of scientific literature critically and really shouldn’t be writing on science at all.

  61. What an overreaching conclusion from this study! SM Koppelman, you are right on in your last post.

    Before we conclude that vegan and vegetarian diets for children are unethical for first-world parents, can I get a study comparing 60 grams of meat supplement to 60 grams of Moosewood Cafe take-out?

    Or was the study author’s (and Ron’s) point that having ANY children when you happen to be impoverished or live in an area with only a starch-rich, protein-poor affordable diet is unethical? That’s a little too much moral superiority for me.

    dhex: if you’re looking to combine steak and tofu in one tasty dish, the sumo wrestler’s stew (chanko) that Tony Bourdain ate in A Cook’s Tour looked awesome.
    http://www.foodtv.ca/tv/shows/titledetails/title_54758.asp

  62. Although… if we accept the broad conclusion and the nannies get a hold of it, vegan parents will become the next libertarian constituency after the Federal Department of Lunch (q.v. the INWO card) drops by to give the kids a hot beef injection every day.

    Let us not mock the vegans so harshly at this juncture.

  63. This thread is really kind of dumb. As long as no one is out there telling me I can’t eat meat, I have no problem with whatever kind of garbage anyone else wants to stuff in their piehole.

    Is forcing vegetarianism on a child unethical? Only if it’s unethical to force anyone to do anything. If parents are forcing their children to (not) eat a certain way, then it might be an ethical problem. If parents take their children’s food preferences into account (within reason) when choosing a diet for them, it shouldn’t be a problem.

  64. More anecdotal evidence: here’s a well-developed, athletic young man who eats nothing but jam sandwiches.

    I knew a guy who ate nothing but jam sandwiches…but he was pale and scrawny.

    Or was the study author’s (and Ron’s) point that having ANY children when you happen to be impoverished or live in an area with only a starch-rich, protein-poor affordable diet is unethical? That’s a little too much moral superiority for me.

    Not for me. I would hope that no person would be irresponsible enough to intentionally bring innocent children into a life of malnutrition and reliance on government aid. What’s so wrong with caring about the quality of children’s lives?
    At the same token, I do agree that this study isn’t very useful; it’s conclusion is overreaching, as keith said. I don’t think that most parents, even in developed, Western countries, know enough or care enough to be nutritionists, and are probably feeding many very bad things to their children. (Has anyone tried Lilo and Stitch cereal? I bought it for myself a few weeks ago…it’s got enough sugar in it to instantaneously cause diabetes in a healthy person, I swear.) Even with the proper resources at hand, vegan or carnivore, most people aren’t very fastidious in caring for themselves.

    BTW, I believe there are studies done showing that red meat consumption is directly related to chances/instances of developing colon cancer. I say this as a meat eater.

  65. Smacky,

    Do you think the act of becoming a parent is not an inalienable human right, but should be subject to social control such as a means test, the One Child policy, or Margaret Sanger-style sterilizations?

  66. keith,

    No. Were the words “government control” and “government regulation” mentioned by me? Did I mention sterilization, or any other policy for that matter? I just think that that the “inalienable human right” to have children is sometimes misinterpreted to mean “raise children however you see fit, regardless of their own rights as defenseless human entities”. It’s not my business what people decide to do with their sex organs or family planning methods, but if they’re reproducing, I would hope that they have a conscience about it, particularly if their children have a childhood of starvation or severe malnourishment to look forward to. In other words, if you can only afford to feed one child properly, then only have one child. I don’t condone regulation in any sense, besides self-control.

  67. My initial beef (pardon the pun) with your comment was that, as opposed to you, I do not think it’s too morally superior to not have children that that you can’t afford to raise properly in regards to care (nutrition, proper diet, hygeine, etc.). I guess that’s all I was trying to say.

  68. Smacky,

    By means of explanation, I chose the phrase “moral superiority” because it was in the H&R posting and in the article, and granted, it’s a loaded phrase. I understand the author wanting to play turnabout with vegans who assert “meat is wrong”. But by overreaching with their conclusion, I felt the author’s result was “having children under your given circumstances is wrong”, not “denying meat is wrong”.

    Last year, my employer sent me to India for two months. I witnessed some truly depressing poverty and juxtapositions of wealth and poor. I might say “it’s wrong to send your kids out to beg in traffic” but I’d never in my life be able to tell a parent of one of these impoverished kids “you injured that kid (or ruined that kid’s life) by having them” or “your lifestyle is irresponsible” and I would feel crappy about myself if I had thought it at the time. Hell, I use a gallon of gas every day and never think about it. I can’t go judging other people’s lifestyles.

    I guess I project a Sanger or Erlich mindset onto any first-worlder who is comfortable with passing judgement on third world life experience, which pushes my buttons. Sorry about projecting that onto you too.

  69. Rikurzhen,

    I don’t think that the determining factor for some milk products causing inflammation is simply lipids/not lipids, because when I read that yogurt wasn’t is non-inflammatory, non-fat yogurt wasn’t specified.

    BTW, my whole basis for saying that about yogurt is that I read it here:

    The Perricone Promise Dr. Nicholas Perricone

    http://www.nvperriconemd.com/drperriconebooks.htm

  70. …Make that: “…when I read that yogurt is non-inflammatory, non-fat yogurt wasn’t specified.”

    Sorry.

  71. Just to point out that Lindsay Allen claims she was misquoted when numerous media outlets reported her saying that vegan diets were unethical. What she apparentlys aid was that such diets are unethical if those on such diets are not properly informed about the unique micronutrient deficiency problems taht such diets can create.

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