Long Form Research on Veganism

Over the past couple of years, society has developed a great focus towards health and wellness. Whether people’s goals are to alter bad eating habits, or decrease the chance of health risks, it has become increasingly common for many to resort to an unconventional diet. Specifically, it has become popular to follow strict diets such as veganism, due to results that are profusely proclaimed in the media; however, because of the limitations that exist in a vegan diet, it isn’t always recommended for people, especially children, to follow the popular trend. Due to the positive results and stories that travel by ear, it is assumed that veganism solves and prevents all heath problems. Misleading proclamations such as these, influences vegans to impose the diet upon their children; and that influence increases the risk of malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, cognitive impairment, internal dysfunction, and even death. Because of these risks, a question regarding ethics remains: Is it right for parents to inflict veganism upon their kids, despite the recommendations and potential risks? Based on the existing issues, veganism as it pertains to children, should not be permissible, because it threatens health, and violates ethics.

From the time of birth, it is suggested that people feed their children foods that consist of dairy and animal proteins, in order to sustain health, and aid development; but that task is impossible for vegans, because their lifestyle restricts those products. It has been claimed in an article by Lindsey Allen of “The Guardian” that, vegans are damaging their children’s health, when they are depriving them of cheese, milk, chicken, and other products. In regards to these limitations, Allen, a professor and researcher at the University of California Davis, explains the issue, and addresses why “Raising children as vegans is ‘unethical’”. In her article, Allen provides statistics that reflect the cognitive and behavioral effects of children who were once forced to a vegan diet, but now consume either dairy or meat. She states that those who started to eat meat had an 80% increase in muscle mass, and an improvement in fluid intelligence. Based on the results of her experiment, Allen (2005) expressed that “There’s absolutely no question that it’s unethical for parents to bring up their children as strict vegans” (“The Guardian,” 2005). Her findings prove that, imposing veganism upon children is undoubtedly immoral, because it inhibits proper mental and physical growth.

In vegan households, it’s evident that the consumption of animal proteins and animal by-products is not permissible, or thought of; but due to the effects it has, it should be pronounced that the diet isn’t suitable or nutritional. It causes great concern when vegans have children, because the plant based diet lacks nutrients that are essential for a child’s development. Children have little to no control of their diet, because they have little to no voice; and because of that, they only consume foods related to their parent’s personal morals and commitments. As humans, it is necessary to ingest foods that have vital vitamins such as B12, because it is a critical component rarely found in plants. Maria Jefferd’s (2003), of the Center for Disease Control, reports that “In young children, a lack of B12 usually manifests as lethargy or developmental delays between the ages of 4 months to 8 months. Too little B12 can also disrupt a child’s attention span, and slow motivation and learning” (p. 22) The effects and abnormalities explained by Jefferd’s, are typical results of children who are victims to their parent’s veganism. Parents continuing such a diet before and after birth, are definitely violating their child’s health, hindering their ability to thrive.

Though it is quite possible for an adult to thrive off of a diet that excludes meat and dairy, it is extremely risky for a child or baby to be raised according to those terms. As published in the New York Times, vegan author Nina Planck (2012) expresses that,” Growing babies…need complete protein, omega-3 fats, iron, calcium and zinc. Compared with meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, plants are inferior sources of every one”(p.1). Furthermore, Planck emphasizes the debilitating effects that babies suffer from, as the foods they eat aren’t substantial. It is stated that substitute proteins like soy, is not good for a child’s health, because it lacks adequate amounts of calcium, zinc and iron. Thyroid damage and stunted growth are also casualties, because babies can’t flourish on mock proteins. It should not be acceptable for parents to implement such foods in their off springs diet, as it is an unethical and unorthodox approach to raising a healthy child.

The result of veganism, as it pertains to young lives, are proven to not be beneficial, because medical cases reveal the severe extremities: neurological, physical, and cognitive dysfunction. Specifically, several medical cases involving infants and toddlers have come to notice, as nutritional deficiencies become prevalent. Pietar Zwart (2004) of The European Journal of Pediatrics, covers these deficiencies, as cases of neurological disorders in babies have been discovered, due to mothers’ excluding all animal proteins from their diets. In a particular case regarding a seven-month old baby raised by vegans, Zwart (2004), examines and reports that a, “Physical examination revealed a pale, irritable, and hypotonic infant”, who experienced “… a delay of 4 months in developmental lifestyle” (p. 259) Because such cases have unveiled negative side effects such as the ones presented, it is expected of parents to discontinue the lifestyle for the well being of their children. If parents decide to overlook this lifestyle change, it is possible that legal action will be taken, in order to compromise the issue.

Veganism, when involving babies and toddlers, is considered fraudulent, because the known risk factors could potentially lead to death. An article published on the site titled “Natural News”, covers a specific case following the death of a baby, who was a product of parents who followed a vegan lifestyle. In the case of this fatality, it is stated by the health editor Mike Adams (2011) that, “because the parents were vegans, an autopsy was performed that found the baby was deficient in vitamin A and vitamin B12” (p. 1). Furthermore, legal action was taken, charging the parents with murder due to food deprivation. Cases such as these reflect the concerns that medical officials have, because vegans are indifferent to the fact that their choices are inconspicuously harming others.

It shouldn’t be acceptable to raise children vegan, due to the amount of nutritional monitoring that both child and parent have to endure. Though there are existing alternatives that can supplement certain nutrients, babies are too young to obtain them, because of unconventional receptions: pills, shots, and intravenous therapy. Nonetheless, despite veganism being considered a beneficial lifestyle, the circumstances are different when they pertain to young ones. Parents should not impose their diets upon their children, unless they are specifically advised to do so; if such practice is prolonged, it would cause great concern for the child’s health and future. Whether vegans believe that their practice is suitable for their child’s well being or not, it is not ethical or nutritional to force the habit to begin with. Depriving and shading others nutritional values, is neither a safe action, nor moral principle.

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