Experts reveal whether the plant-based diet can be healthy for young children
Numerous cases of children being malnourished from a vegan diet exist
But they aren't about veganism - they are being neglected, say parents
Experts are adamant 'it is possible to provide a balanced diet to vegans'
There are no known plant sources of vitamin B-12 - vital for development
But there are alternative sources vegans can get the nutrient from
There's a right way and a wrong way to raise a baby on vegan food, experts claim.
this month a Pennsylvania mother was charged with endangerment for
feeding her baby nothing but a small amount of nuts and berries.
in Italy, after a number of vegan babies were hospitalised for
malnourishment, a bill was proposed to make it a crime for children
under 16 to follow the diet.
those cases are not about veganism at all and are cases of neglect, say
parents who are raising their children to follow the ethical diet.
With sound nutrition and dietary planning 'it is possible to provide a balanced diet to vegetarians and vegans', experts say
Serra, from Colorado, who is raising her 1-year-old son Sebastiano as a
vegan, said pinning bad parenting on a vegan diet are unfair on those
who have done their homework.
stress the elements of veganism in these stories, but it's not that
these people aren't giving their children the right kind of food, it's
that they aren't feeding them,' she said.
'To get a child to the point of starvation, it means you are ignoring him and his crying all the time. It's neglect.'
The American Academy of Pediatrics' book Pediatric Nutrition devotes a chapter to vegetarian and vegan diets.
describes how, with sound nutrition and dietary planning, 'it is
possible to provide a balanced diet to vegetarians and vegans.'
Fulvia Serra, from Colorado, who is
raising her 1-year-old son Sebastiano as a vegan, said veganism isn't to
blame for malnourishment in children - neglect is
Magge, an endocrinologist at the Children's National Health System,
said: 'For children in general you can have a safe vegan diet, but it
has to be in consultation with a pediatrician or health care provider.
'These are critical times in brain development, and it has to be done carefully.'
The ideal first food for babies is breast milk and many vegan mothers opt to breastfeed.
To get a child to the point of starvation, it means you are ignoring him and his crying all the time. It's neglect
Fulvia Serra, from Colorado, who is raising her 1-year-old son Sebastiano as a vegan
But for those who can't or don't, the only other option is a soy-based formula, Dr Magge said.
Key nutrients for babies are vitamin B-12 and vitamin D, as well as iron, zinc and calcium.
enough B-12, which comes from milk and eggs, is a specific concern in
the vegan diet as a deficiency can lead to neurological problems.
babies nurse less and start consuming more solid foods, parents need to
make sure all the nutrients necessary for proper development are being
A pediatrician can help guide parents and offer supplements if needed.
Mangels is a nutritionist in Massachusetts, who works with the
Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit education and advocacy group.
She raised her two children, now 24 and 21, vegan.
Getting enough B-12, which comes from
milk and eggs and is vital for development, is a specific concern in the
vegan diet as a deficiency can lead to neurological problems. But
there are alternative sources, experts say
stories about malnourished children can be stressful for parents who
have done their homework and have to defend themselves time and again,
Ms Mangels said: 'The problem is not the vegan part of the diet, but it's the inadequacy of the diet.
'Where on earth did they get the idea that this was a vegan diet?'
raising vegan kids need to be armed with facts, like being able to
rattle off which foods and supplements are providing adequate vitamin
B-12 and protein and where their kids are getting calcium.
those who would question the safety of raising vegan babies, her
suggested response is: 'The doctors say we are doing it right.'
WHY A VEGAN DIET CAN HELP YOU LIVE LONGER
Swapping meat and eggs for lentils and nuts could add years to your life, research in August found.
discovered eating less protein from animal sources such as red meat and
dairy products, and increasing plant proteins from cereals, beans and
soya, substantially reduced death rates.
from heart disease fell 12 per cent, and deaths from all causes fell by
10 per cent, for every three per cent increase in calories from plant
protein, the researchers found.
contrast, raising the animal protein share of calories by 10 per cent
led to an eight per cent greater chance of dying from a heart problem
and two per cent higher risk of all-cause death.
Hawk, from Pennyslyvania, was charged with endangering her 11-month-old
son by restricting him to a diet of small amounts of fruit and nuts
earlier this month.
became 'obsessed' with a vegan diet, prompting her estranged husband to
contact child welfare workers, a criminal complaint says.
Doctors determined in August that the baby had developmental delays and couldn't crawl because he was malnourished.
The complaint also said the vegan diet also worsened a bad rash.
Calls seeking comment from Ms Hawk, her former husband and the public defender's office weren't returned.
of vegan parents being arrested for malnourished children pop up every
few years in the US, and the cases in Italy have made international
Arizona, Kimu Parker was arrested in April 2005 for nearly starving her
three children with a diet she and the children's father called vegan.
She was sentenced to 30 years in prison; the father, Blair Parker, got 15 years.
Florida the same year, Joseph and Lamoy Andressohn got probation for
neglect in the death of their 6-month-old son, who was fed only wheat
grass, coconut water and almond milk.
Georgia, Jade Sanders and Lamont Thomas were sentenced to life in
prison for the 2004 death of their 6-week-old son, who starved to death
after they fed him a too-limited diet of soy milk and apple juice.