Safety of Vegan Diets for Babies

Safety of Vegan Diets for Babies

Vegan diets aren’t dangerous. However, people with irrational ideas about nutrition are. The stories of vegan parents who starved their babies because of mistaken beliefs about infant feeding are clear proof of that. It is horrible and it’s heartbreaking. But it has nothing to do with veganism.

Why is it that journalists can’t figure this out? Mary Elizabeth Williams’ article in Salon was another attempt to tie the actions of a handful of misinformed parents to veganism. She made the case that some babies in vegan families have suffered because they were fed inappropriate diets. And, then, she suggested that “whatever a parent’s personal beliefs, they must be continually adjusted and evaluated based on a child’s needs.”

I can’t argue with either of those observations ... Read More >

A Healthy Start for Vegan Children

Casual recommendations regarding vegan diets can and do take a toll on the health of some vegans. There is no reason why vegans should ever be at risk for nutrient deficiencies. But if they don’t have access to good advice, or don’t follow it, deficiencies can certainly happen. And as one reader of this blog (a vegan mom) mentioned to me after reading a somewhat alarming article on feeding vegan children, “all of these issues are magnified tenfold when children are involved.”

Vegan kids have some clear advantages; their diets are low in saturated fat, free of cholesterol, and rich in fiber plus all kinds of health-promoting plant chemicals. The tradeoff is that some nutrients need a little bit of extra attention.

For breastfed infants, ... Read More >

The New York Times, Nina Planck, and Safety of Vegan Diets

Last week brought more shoddy coverage of vegan diets from The New York Times. This time, it was a debate about the safety of veganism. And it didn’t occur to the Times to solicit opinions from anyone with actual expertise in vegan nutrition.

At the center of the discussion was food writer and farmer’s market expert Nina Planck, who excels at making sweeping, unsupported observations about nutrition. She is woefully uninformed and spectacularly unconcerned about her lack of knowledge and credentials.

Planck believes that we have “extraordinary needs for nutrients not found in plants,” –including vitamins A and D, omega-3 fats, and carnitine–which translates to a need for what she refers to as “synthetic supplements.” I imagine that in referring to these supplements as “synthetic,” ... Read More >