More Anti-Vegan Sentiment

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Vegans Sentenced for Starving Their Baby

ARGH.

Some variation of this story pops up about once a year in the mainstream press.  You may remember the baby that died thanks to his supposedly vegan parents that fed him cod liver oil (NOT VEGAN).  Or the fruitarian parents who were spared jail after their baby died.

The thing is, if you look at this story, the fact that the parents were raising their children vegan has no bearing whatsoever on the story.  The child didn’t die because he wasn’t eating meat, he died because he was (allegedly) fed only soy milk and apple juice.  I’ve got news for you: if you feed your child only cow’s milk and apple juice, they’re going to die, too.

Veganism is not the issue here.  It’s poor parenting.

But thanks to the obsession with making vegans look like crazy loons, readers will continue to take away the wrong message from the story.  Instead of it being a terrible tragedy (allegedly) brought on by neglectful parents, it becomes a sweeping generalization about vegans.  In fact, as I was writing this post, an e-mail came in with a link to the story, followed by this witty comment:

Save a cow …. Kill your baby!
Vegans are sick SOB’s

As regular readers surely know by now, it can be perfectly healthy to raise a child as a vegan.  In fact, all of the vegan kids I’ve met have been healthy, vibrant, and well-adjusted.  Yeah, parents need to do a little research to make sure their child’s nutritional needs are met, but that’s not limited to vegans.  Every parent needs to read up on diet and nutrition.

Unfortunately, these unfair portraits of vegan (or supposedly vegan) parents are catchy news fodder for press and pundits.  It’d be nice if the press would leave “vegan” out of the story (and here, the headline) if it doesn’t have any real bearing on the story itself, but that doesn’t generate the same kind of buzz.

(This is fair warning: I’m not going to let this degrade into a flurry of idiotic comments.  If you’re commenting on the story, bring your A-game.)

22 Responses to “More Anti-Vegan Sentiment”

  1. gladcow

    Ryan, I am so glad you addressed this. The story keeps popping up on my Google and it makes me sad and upset. Your entry really crystallized my thoughts. Thank you.

  2. brigita

    Question: Why wasn’t the mom breastfeeding?

    Statement: You aren’t supposed to give cow’s milk to kids until they’re at least a year old, so the whole save a cow/starve a child argument isn’t even relevant.

    [S]Oy.

  3. Becci

    Wasn’t there a story like this recently where the “vegans” fed their babies nothing but ground carrots? Anyway, yeah, it’s totally anti-vegan to mention that the parents are claiming to be vegan without mentioning to the mostly ignorant public what vegan REALLY means.

    Oh, here’s the link to the ground carrots story: http://www.supervegan.com/blog/entry.php?id=810 Note that the prosecutor, who is obviously not as much of moron as most of the people involved in the case, stated, “They’re not vegans. They’re baby killers!”

  4. J

    I believe the fact they claim to be vegans is important because this was part of their defense: They are vegan, therefore, they could not give their baby any of the usual formula because it contains cow’s milk. While there is soy milk formula, these parents did not avail themselves of such.

    My question is how, if they did the research enough to live a vegan lifestyle, how did they miss the information on dietary requirements of human infants and how breast milk fulfills those?

  5. michelle

    this makes me so sad! what makes me sadder is that my mom is the one who told me of it, with a gleeful “did you hear about the VEGAN parents who got LIFE IN PRISON for KILLNG their baby? ugh is right. my misguided mom is just like many people who rely on tv news or such to get 100% of their information — hence, i cringe when these kinds of stories surface. is this what people think vegan parents do??
    but you’re right, ryan. the story is not about vegans. it is about parenting. i’m going to submit my daughter’s story to this page about real vegan children.
    http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/realveganchildren

  6. Marcy

    Ugh indeed. If a meat-eater starves or otherwise mistreats their baby, no one assumes all of them do. But be veg let alone vegan, and everyone assumes we’re all cut from the same cloth. It’s about child abuse and starvation, period.

    I had to reply to an email about this issue, and just chose to send on lots of helpful links and info about vegan parenting and nutrition as part of my response. For example, studies on the harm that large animal products intake is known to be causing in greater amounts each year to our nation’s children. Because a lot of people truly have no idea what vegans can eat, let alone vegan children, and so it is helpful to educate. I just wish that we weren’t forced to teach it so often, and to such a degree.

  7. keri

    I am so sick of seeing this story pop up in my google search too! Vegans are some of the most conscious decision makers in this world. We try to avoid affecting others as much as possible and that is really why we have the beliefs that we do. Being vegan has NOTHING to do with this case, some parents are crazy. Some are black, white, asian, hispanic, meat eating, hunters, vegetarians, vegans, alcoholics, etc. NOT necessary to beat down all of us for this sad case.

  8. drew

    Great response to this story!

  9. Incognito

    If this is the same Atlanta couple, the mother, during the trial, did say she also breast fed the baby and fed him soy milk.

    I think the issue most people fail to address is the horribly unfair *life* sentence! People who have willfully murdered and tortured their children have rec’d sentences as little as 11 years. I wrote a post about this issue. And non-veggies, of course, love to jump to conclusions. Ignorance, yes, but willful murder, no. They did not deserve life.

  10. Doug

    It’s bad journalism pure and simple. No editor would approve a story regarding bad parenting – unless its particularly malicious. That’s been done.

    Throw Vegans into the mix however and you’ve got something – even if they’re not at fault.

  11. Joseph H

    I’m curious – do you know of an actual example of a vegan mother who was vegan throughout pregnancy, vegan while nursing, then raised her child vegan after weaning, whose child was developmentally normal and healthy? My guess is that this is extraordinarily rare (the keeping vegan part, not the child with development problems part), even among people who are otherwise strict vegans.

  12. ryan

    See the link Michelle linked above: http://veganhealth.org/articles/realveganchildren

    I know a number of kids raised vegan since conception, including one of the ones featured on that page. On the other hand, I know of none that turned out developmentally disabled in any way.

  13. SpoiledSoprano

    The newspaper business is simply that: a business. The primary concern is profit. With that in mind, I can well understand using the adjective vegan in the headline. It makes the article intriguing enough to entice people to buy the paper.

    However, that does not reduce the responsibility of the business to produce ethical, honest and accurate reporting. Sadly, this is lacking. It is becoming increasingly harder and harder to see where the news stories end and the editorials begin.

    I agree that the article should have focused on the importance of learning about the nutritional needs of our families no matter what the culinary preferences may be. I also feel that using veganism as an excuse was a bad substitute for ignorance, if that was the case. But I don’t know.

    Perhaps we would do better to withhold any judgement on the situation until we get all the facts. Since that is highly unlikely, may I suggest that we withhold judgement on the parents and the trial altogether? Yes, there are questions to ask. Isn’t losing a baby sentence enough? Why would a six week old baby be fed anything else other than mother’s milk? This are but two questions that rose to my mind, but since I don’t know the couple nor the actual facts of the case, I will only join in mourning the passing of the child and pray for the couple.

  14. Bryanna Clark Grogan

    This is a letter I wrote to a (non-vegan) friend who sent me the article:

    The fact is that it does not matter whether the parents were vegan or not! They were ignorant, ill-informed, stupid– I don’t know. But the fact is that if they had fed their baby COW’S milk and apple juice (and obviously not enough of it anyway) the same thing would have happened! ALL babies at least until a year and preferably for 2 years, should be breastfed or fed formula, not any kind of plain milk. There are millions of babies in the world who thrive for a year or more ONLY on breastmilk, even when their mothers are malnourished. It is only when they are weaned to inadequate food that they fail to thrive!

    “They’re not vegans, they’re baby killers,” Fulton prosecutor Mike Carlson told the jury Tuesday during his closing arguments.

    This has NOTHING to do with vegan diet! The people at the Farm, where my publishers are, must be cringing at this stupid reporting, since their babies thrived on mothers milk and, later, a vegan diet. My friend Holly, a 3rd generation veegtarian, now vegan, raised 2 incredibly healthy vegan kids.

    This is about ignorance, or child abuse, or both– NOT veganism!

    IN ADDITION: the author of that article is a Weston A Price follower (see http://www.bryannaclarkgrogan.com/page/page/3476771.htm#14 for info on this anti-vegetarian organization)– she believes that people can’t even get pregnant while eating a vegan diet! She believes that soy is poison and that we should eat lots of meat, lard, butter, etc.. She believes in feeding children raw cow’s milk. She writes”…it is difficult to get pregnant, sustain a healthy pregnancy, and to have sufficient and nutritious breast milk on a vegan diet.” This is patent nonsense and she is not without an anti-vegetarian, never mind vegan, agenda.. Ask the American Dietetic Assocoation (ADA)! Here is a quote from their paper on vegetarian diet http://www.vegsource.com/nutrition/adapaper.htm :

    “Well-planned vegan and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy and lactation. Appropriately planned vegan and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets satisfy nutrient needs of infants, children, and adolescents and promote normal growth (37). Dietary deficiencies are most likely to be observed in populations with very restrictive diets. All vegan children should have a reliable source of vitamin B-12 and, if sun exposure is limited, vitamin D supplements or fortified foods should be used. Foods rich in calcium, iron, and zinc should be emphasized. Frequent meals and snacks and the use of some refined foods and foods higher in fat can help vegetarian children meet energy needs. Guidelines for iron and vitamin D supplements and for the introduction of solid foods are the same for vegetarian and nonvegetarian infants. When it is time for protein-rich foods to be introduced, vegetarian infants can have pureed tofu, cottage cheese, and legumes (pureed and strained). Breast-fed vegan infants should receive a source of vitamin B-12 if the mother’s diet is not supplemented and a source of vitamin D if sun exposure is inadequate.”

    Here are some resources by medical professionals:
    http://www.scienzavegetariana.it/rubriche/cong2002/vegcon_infant_diet_en.html

    http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/WELCOME/treatmentguides/veganchildren.html

    http://www.vegsource.com/parent/growing_vegans.htm (the authors are registered dieticians)

    Sincerely, Bryanna

  15. kyle

    There are thousands of babies being brought up vegan in the US. Just because one died doesn’t have any relevance in the vegan infant group. How many omnivore children die a year? Just think about it. The percentage is much higher. These parents were singled out because they had an alternative lifestyle. When the public should have been looking at their suffering parenting skills.
    I would think child abuse would consist of hormone-filled cow milk which is responsible for diabetes, obesity, teenage High Blood Pressure, etc. Do the research. Love your baby. Heal the waning environment.

  16. Ty branch

    u explained it perfectly this topic comes up alot in my classes

  17.   Raising a vegan kid: the first 2 1/2 years [The Veg Blog]

    […] I’m very thankful that from the very beginning, we haven’t faced any resistance from our families. No snide comments, no threats to call child services, no sneaking meat into her food during family gatherings. We’re very lucky in that sense. Our families understand that we’re doing what we think is best and that we’re not going to be stupid about it and feed her only soy milk and apple juice. […]

  18. pixie cat

    VEGANS SUCK! JESUS HATES YOU, AND YOU HATE HIM. DIE AND GO HOME TO YOUR FATHER THE DEVIL, YOUR PRESCIOUS DARWIN AWAITS YOU THERE.

  19. Pile of Links, v. 1.0 « Brave Lucky Game

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    […] that these kinds of anti-vegan stories receive is typical, predictable, and woefully uninformed.  Sadly, children get sick or die every […]

  21. Richard

    You vegans are really sick SOB´s-why don´t you move to another planet!

  22. Des Morris

    Vegan parents are dicing with death – literally. I was raised vegan and suffered terrible physical and psychological effects – particularly anxiety attacks as a teenager and in my 20s. Only restoring to a fully omniverous diet returned me to health.

    Veganism is a form of eating disorder (a deliberate suppression of natural appetites) which turns into a rigid dogma. Many anorexics, particularly girls, start their journey into an illness which kills between 10 and 20 percent of sufferers with vegetarianism or veganism.

    Dietary choice is something people should make as free and rational adults. Children should never be the victims of their parents’ dogma, especially in an area which can so drastically affect health.

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