Veganism nearly kills baby?
April 30, 2002 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Veganism nearly kills baby? A New york couple is charged with reckless endangerment after there baby is taken to the hospital underdeveloped and near death. The article doesn't specifically say veganism was the reason for the baby's poor health but strongly impies it. [link via plastic]
posted by drezdn (55 comments total)

 
implies it... implies it... implies it.
posted by drezdn at 11:01 AM on April 30, 2002


This story was also reported in the New York Times.

Apparently they didn't feed the baby either breats milk or formula -- both of which are consistent with veganism. So I don't think it's veganism that's responsible for this baby's poor health, but, more likely, some messed up parents.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:04 AM on April 30, 2002


Kind of reminds me of this story, albeit without the kidnapping part. I think the parents would fall more into the "wackos who happen to be vegan" camp than they would the "vegan wacko". Does that make any sense?

On preview, yeah, what mattpfeff said.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:05 AM on April 30, 2002


That's a special kind of stupid.
posted by NortonDC at 11:09 AM on April 30, 2002


How is denying breast milk consistent with veganism????

Vegans don't consume animal products or by-products -- because of cruelty or health reasons. The thinking goes that cow's milk is for baby cows. Then isn't human milk for baby humans? How is breastfeeding cruel or unhealthy?? It's the most natural thing out there.

If the mother was getting a nutritionally sound vegan diet, and the baby was only eating vegan foods in addition to breastmilk, I wager it would have been fine. Veganism isn't what endangered the baby -- stupidity did.
posted by jennak at 11:11 AM on April 30, 2002


How is denying breast milk consistent with veganism????

jenn, i think matt was saying that the feeding of breast milk or formula would be consisten with veganism.
posted by moz at 11:14 AM on April 30, 2002


Damn.....I can't imagine what the woman thought of breast milk. I mean, when I try to think of all the arguments FOR veganism, not a one would have any problems with breast milk. I mean, it doesn't hurt you, it wasn't created in a messy way, etc.

I'm just glad the kid's alive.

I'll even go one farther than jennak and say that a baby NEEDS a lot more fat and protein than a grown up (in proportion, of course). Most of the vegans I've known were kind of lethargic. It's just not a proper way to take care of your body.

With that said, I don't think the mother was getting the proper nutrition in her body to produce the breast milk, and I'm pretty sure that a vegan diet is not the right diet for a baby.....so Veganism DID endanger the baby...not just stupidity.
posted by taumeson at 11:15 AM on April 30, 2002


consistent, i meant to say.
posted by moz at 11:16 AM on April 30, 2002


Mmmm...propaganda and audience wowwing. I'm almost embarassed for the media that printed the story. New York radio stations also broadcast this story painted in the same light. I call it child abuse, not vegetarianism.
posted by Quixoticlife at 11:22 AM on April 30, 2002


Moz -- my comment wasn't directed at Matt, but at the idiot parents.
posted by jennak at 11:22 AM on April 30, 2002


this story reminds me of the vegan knucklehead i knew who wouldn't feed her cat any animal products and refused to believe that was wrong. even though cats are carnivores.

damn, people are frikkin morons.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 11:26 AM on April 30, 2002


How is cod liver oil vegan?
posted by NortonDC at 11:27 AM on April 30, 2002


You know, it's just like Fox News to make me want to hurl, but the NYTimes is usually a pretty straightforward source...


"Near-death abuse by Vegetarianism on the next Oprah!"
posted by Quixoticlife at 11:28 AM on April 30, 2002


sorry, jenn. my mistake.
posted by moz at 11:32 AM on April 30, 2002


I'll even go one farther than jennak and say that a baby NEEDS a lot more fat and protein than a grown up (in proportion, of course). Most of the vegans I've known were kind of lethargic. It's just not a proper way to take care of your body

Veggies get their fat and protein from fruits, vegetables, nuts, pulses, dairy (no eggs), and grains. So if the vegans and veggies you know are not getting their required amounts of fats and protiens it's because they aren't eating right.
posted by riffola at 11:33 AM on April 30, 2002


Most vegans DO nurse and nurse for longer than the recommended year. Typically, vegan moms will nurse until the child is two and a half to three years of age and then slowly wean them over to soy or nut milk.

What these parents did have nothing to do with veganism and everything to do with bad parenting.
posted by gloege at 11:35 AM on April 30, 2002


Dr. Spock would be proud. Although, in his defense, he advocates a vegan diet only after the age of two.
posted by plaino at 11:35 AM on April 30, 2002


Note that the abuse has nothing to do with naming their little girl "Ice."

Oh yeah, and what everybody else has been saying about breastfeeding being a good idea.
posted by ilsa at 11:35 AM on April 30, 2002


matt was saying that the feeding of breast milk or formula would be consistent with veganism.

Yup, that's what I meant. Sorry about the ambiguity (and thanks, moz!).
posted by mattpfeff at 11:37 AM on April 30, 2002


Plastic is still up?
posted by sudama at 11:38 AM on April 30, 2002


I think that anyone who is going to be a vegan or impose such dietary restriction on a child MUST be responsible and assure that the correct protein and nutrients (etc) is being consumed. Such a task is not easy and requires a good deal of knowledge on food composition. I have known some very happy, healthy and energetic vegans and I have also known some very sickly vegans.

However, a parent being responsible for the child's heath is another thing. I personally know someone who decided that she and her new born child were going to become "fruitarians." She consumed only fruit while she nursed him, and fed him only fruit when he was ready for real food. Despite the fact that he was nursed until he was well into his 4th year, he had terrible physical problems and ended up having all of his teeth rot before he was 5 years old. The dentist who was to extract the teeth was a little disturbed when the mother demanded that the teeth be removed without anesthetic. After the dentist reported the mother to child protective services it was determined that she was doing what she believed was best for her child and no further action was taken. Again, was the bad diet to blame or bad parenting?
posted by amphigory at 11:39 AM on April 30, 2002


Although I'm a carnivore in good standing, there's nothing inherently wrong with Veganism and I'm nearly certain (wi/o being a dietician) that parents who were considerate of the nutritional considerations particular to infant care would find it pretty easy to maintain good health on a Vegan diet. My own son ate hardly any meat for over a year after his birth, and he eats little now. We are aware, however, of his need for protein and fat, and make dietary changes to that end.

Methinks then: what gloege (et al) said. Loser parents who happen to be Vegans.
posted by UncleFes at 11:44 AM on April 30, 2002


As NortonDC said: what's vegan about cod liver oil?

The media has a field day with vegans and their oh-so-wacky diets.

As a nice balance, Newsday has a good article on how to raise your child as a healthy vegan.
posted by laze at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2002


My little brother has been vegan for several years, since he was a teen (and he's a hulk, unlike his emaciated friends), and he told me that he knew a vegan couple who had a baby that came out with a green pallor, very sickly looking. He wasn't sure whether it was a good idea to be vegan during pregnancy, or to make an infant into one. I knew a vegetarian couple in college who made sure their kid ate plenty of dairy products to get the right amount of fat in his diet.
posted by fotzepolitic at 11:51 AM on April 30, 2002


I agree, loser parents who took "veganism" too far. The irresponsible parents are the problem, not any kind of lifestyle.

When you're more concerned with the potential welfare of a few animals 100 miles away rather than the immediate health of your newborn child, I think you're pretty f'ed up, no two ways about it.
posted by tomorama at 11:52 AM on April 30, 2002


tomorama - Here! Here! Thanks for putting things in sharp perspective.
posted by amphigory at 12:06 PM on April 30, 2002


I think that anyone who is going to be a vegan or impose such dietary restriction on a child MUST be responsible and assure that the correct protein and nutrients (etc) is being consumed.

um, i think that this goes all around. just because a person feeds their kids meat three times a day doesn't free them of any dietary responsibility. please refer to the number of obese children in the u.s. and the eating habits they practice. there is nothing wrong with being a vegan or raising a vegan child. there is something wrong when you malnorish a child. the diet the parents fed their child is insane. children need more protien and fats in their diets and if veganism was such a religion for them, they would have known this and supplemented the diet accordingly. i couldn't even live off what they were feeding their child.

after the father said he thought the child was getting "chubby,"

not only are these idiot parents, but neurotic too.
posted by chrisroberts at 12:12 PM on April 30, 2002


this appears to be a "look at the freaks!" style attention-grab on the part of the media outlets, and i'll agree with all above who claim these two are bad parents who happen to be vegan...

but just to be on the fair side, shouldn't the media also pay some attention to the parents who allow/encourage their children to overeat themselves into juvenile obesity? single out the parents whose children have heart and liver disfunction at 15, you know, just for kicks?
posted by gangcandy at 12:26 PM on April 30, 2002


I don't believe in parents who indoctrinated their children into a strict orthodoxy before the children develop any mechanism for making their own choice on the matter- whether the orthodoxy is religious, dietary or whatever in nature. It jus produces another generation of humans who cling to beliefs out of habit rather than reason. Let the kid decide at a later age whether it wants to be a vegan or not. Present the pros and cons of each side. I think it leads to more independent and deeply held beliefs.
posted by evanizer at 12:31 PM on April 30, 2002


would this diet:
"ground nuts, fresh-squeezed fruit juices, herbal tea, beans, cod liver oil and flax seed oil,"
inherently endanger a child, or were the parents sort of anorexic by proxy? those oils & nuts should provide fat (& yes, odd to see "cod liver oil" in a supposedly vegan diet) and the nuts & beans protein, and fruit juice vitamins etc. One of the diseases was rickets, the prevention of which is the primary reason people take cod liver oil (I think - ). And sunlight does the trick too. Lots of kids don't have meat or cow milk in the first year or so, or at least not very often - so the whole "veganism" thing seems just to be an angle to play to sensationalize the story.
posted by mdn at 12:32 PM on April 30, 2002


Aren't almost all Metafilter posts "look at the freaks" articles?
posted by luriete at 12:37 PM on April 30, 2002


While you're making fun of this news story ---
A) Look at all of the good information that's in this topic about healthy veganism and vegetarianism.
B) Seriously, if you were a reporter, could you resist NOT reporting on or publishing this article?! The public loves its wackos...
posted by SpecialK at 12:39 PM on April 30, 2002


chrisroberts, thanks for pointing out the OTHER side of the fence.

Isn't strict veganism about avoiding ANY meat substance? I don't know of a whole lot of non-meat foods with ENOUGH protein and fat to nourish a child. I suppose it's possible, but only while at the same time BREASTFEEDING.

And I mean, if Dr. Spock says no Veganism until after 2, then it must be right! (j/k).
posted by taumeson at 12:40 PM on April 30, 2002


This sounds like some illogical fundamentalism. Maybe these people were orthorexic. Or maybe they were religious nuts, like these folks.
posted by cowboy_sally at 12:52 PM on April 30, 2002


I've been reading up on vegetarianism, and for health reasons (diabetes/hypothyroidism) been making the switch slowly. The books I've been reading, suggest that no child under 5 become a vegetarian or vegan.

riffola: dairy (no eggs),
ovo-lacto Vegetarians do consume eggs, there are a few different types, some do and some don't.
posted by mkelley at 12:53 PM on April 30, 2002


It jus produces another generation of humans who cling to beliefs out of habit rather than reason. Let the kid decide at a later age whether it wants to be a vegan or not.

evanizer, as noble as that thought may be, it's completely impractical and unrealistic. You example is comparable to ethics, religion, or any good/bad habits parents have. That's the beauty, and pitfall, of parenting. You, for at least the first 4-8 years, have complete control over the molding of your child. You decide whether your child knows right from wrong. You decide if your child is religious. You decide if your child is nourished, or not. And because of this, the beauty of adolescence is found. Kids rebel, give up everything their taught, only to, usually, find it again as an adult. But there's the kicker...to find it again as an adult, you usually have to be taught it as a child. Otherwise, it's an upward battle to find a set of ethics relevent to your life.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:53 PM on April 30, 2002


suggest that no child under 5 become a vegetarian

And as mkelley was mentioning, there are PLENTY of types of vegetarians...and his sources say kids shouldn't even be THOSE.

Another way of thinking is: Who cares if a kid can survive being a vegetarian. Wouldn't you want what's BEST? I'm pretty sure a well balance diet with all major food groups (in moderation) is best...as long as your kid isn't becoming a fat ass, let him eat meat and eggs and cheese. His arteries aren't worried.
posted by taumeson at 12:58 PM on April 30, 2002


I'm a meat eater (hate to let my canine teeth go to waste), but respect the choices people make when it comes to their eating habits (please don't get down on my leather belt though!) In fact I took a minute to look at vegan.com and found that "...Finally, babies do need milk—their mother’s milk. When breastfeeding is not chosen, a commercial infant formula is the only substitute. These are based on either cow or soymilk. The soymilk formulas are lactose-free." So I concur that the issue here is stupid parents and nothing more. As a new parent myself, I would have to guess that these people have not been following the CDC prescribed schedule for getting vaccinations, or their pediatrician is as idiodic as as they are.

As for letting children make their own choices - I'm all about that, but your job is to lay down what you think is right (they don't know any better) and give them the ability to thoughtfully consider the decision when they have the skills to understand the decision. I'm okay with parents doing something like veganism as long as the child isn't being hindered by it and gets a fair discussion about it when they're older. That being said, I can't resist this - choosing their diet != choosing to be deaf ;)
posted by stormy at 12:58 PM on April 30, 2002


They must be wacko. Let's consider maybe mom couldn't breast feed the child. What's wrong with soy formula? Doesn't that fall into the vegan formulary?
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 1:08 PM on April 30, 2002


Most of the vegans I've known were kind of lethargic. It's just not a proper way to take care of your body

I've been vegan for years and I (still) ride centuries twice a month, in addition to lots of other active type things during the week. So if you're thinking of becoming a nutritional scientist, *DON'T* quit your day job just yet...
posted by BentPenguin at 1:16 PM on April 30, 2002


umm, as I was writing Stormy must have been posting. I guess it answers my question.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 1:17 PM on April 30, 2002


taumeson --

Who cares if a kid can survive being a vegetarian. Wouldn't you want what's BEST?

And some (many) would argue that being vegetarian is what's best.

I'm pretty sure a well balance diet with all major food groups

"Food groups" have morphed into "food pyramids," and there are several kinds of those: the USDA's, a (lacto-ovo) vegetarian one, and a vegan one. Interestingly, here is what the pyramid looks like for the Standard American Diet.
posted by laze at 1:17 PM on April 30, 2002


Soy milk is a godsend (MiniFes is allergic to cow's milk). But MAN the farts are murderous. I had to repaint the nursery three times. Birds got knocked out of trees. I have to wear an eyepatch because of the retinal damage. Our house was rezoned "industrial" by the city.
posted by UncleFes at 1:27 PM on April 30, 2002


They must be wacko. Let's consider maybe mom couldn't breast feed the child. What's wrong with soy formula? Doesn't that fall into the vegan formulary?

Yep. Protein and fat isn't a major problem. In fact, one of my problems is that I still get a bit too much fat as a vegetarian. (Tamari almonds are my weakness) and B12 can be supplemented.

But another big issue is that having meat in the household seriously complicates food preparation.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:28 PM on April 30, 2002


Who cares if a kid can survive being a vegetarian. Wouldn't you want what's BEST?

Yeah, but what's BEST? Everyone has a different answer. Certainly there are millions of parents feeding their children processed, inorganic, artificial, oversweetened food every day without getting written up in the paper for the possibly harmful diets their kids are on.

...suggest that no child under 5 become a vegetarian

This wasn't a kid though, this was a baby. According to >this column at parentsplace.com (not the least bit biased toward veggies), you might introduce meat at about the age of 8 months; before then they won't be able to process it properly. "Ice" (now that's fucked up) was older than that, but this column is in response to a parent of an even older child who's worried her kid isn't getting enough meat, and she's told that yes, kids often don't like meat much, but there are plenty of alternatives. What I'm getting at is what I said above: plenty of babies don't get much meat; the problem is the parents not the veganism.
posted by mdn at 1:33 PM on April 30, 2002


"My little brother has been vegan for several years, since he was a teen (and he's a hulk, unlike his emaciated friends), and he told me that he knew a vegan couple who had a baby that came out with a green pallor, very sickly looking. He wasn't sure whether it was a good idea to be vegan during pregnancy, or to make an infant into one. I knew a vegetarian couple in college who made sure their kid ate plenty of dairy products to get the right amount of fat in his diet."

I was vegan for my pregnancy and for my daughter's first year. I had a healthy 10 lb, 9 ounce little girl who was on time and who had perked perfectly. When she weaned herself at a year, we moved her to soy milk not because of a dietary preference but because she did not like milk. She drank soy milk for three months and then moved over to Vitamin D whole milk and now drinks both happily. We offered Drue (my daughter) meat over the last two years (she is almost three) but she prefers a mostly vegetarian diet. She does eat hot dogs and cheese and LOVES seafood. She will not eat meat or chicken.

We are friends with lots of people who are veg and vegan. Most of them did not impose a particular dietary choice on their children. Most of them do consult with their pediatricians and get their iron levels tested to ensure good health. As with anything in parenting folks, it is taking the time to obtain the knowledge, talking to other parents, talking to your pediatrician and following some good common sense.

Being vegan during my pregnancy did not hurt my baby nor me.... Rampant veganism is not supported by the FDA, the AMA or Dr Spock. The FDA goes so far as to suggest not restricting dairy until after the age of three. There are plenty of ways to get fat and protein in your diet via a vegetarian or vegan diet. Trust me, there are some hefty veg's out there...
posted by gloege at 1:52 PM on April 30, 2002


This is really messed up, but only slightly more so than parents who pack their already obese kids full of more fast food and soda.

the problem is the parents not the veganism.

I agree, and would say the same about parents who mistreated their kids with misapplication of fundamentalist religion, which is essentially what veganism is.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:55 PM on April 30, 2002


"I agree, and would say the same about parents who mistreated their kids with misapplication of fundamentalist religion, which is essentially what veganism is."

No veganism is, in essence, simply a decision to not consume or buy animal product which, today, is virtually impossible. It is NOT a fundamentalist religion which is defined as a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching.

Yes there are rabid vegans out there (and vegetarians) but they have yet to establish religious like following. Most non-meateaters don't CARE if you eat meat. They just make sure they do not.
posted by gloege at 2:01 PM on April 30, 2002


I gotta echo what Bent Penguine said in response to the "lethargic vegans" comment. My boyfriend has been vegan for 10 years (he's 26 now), and works out 3 - 4 times a week. I wouldn't chose veganism for myself, but it's simply inaccurate to say that the diet makes people "lethargic." There are lots of ways to get protein and fat that don't involve meat or dairy.
posted by arielmeadow at 2:13 PM on April 30, 2002


"I played Russian Roulette and survived; therefore Russian Roulette is perfectly safe."

"My uncle was a 2-pack-a-day smoker, and lived to be 96 until he died in a car accident. So anyone who says smoking is harmful is full of it."

[This comment is directed to those presenting anecdotal evidence as if it were some sort of proof on both sides of this debate. To paraphrase BentPenguin, if you're thinking of becoming statisticians, *DON'T* quit your day jobs just yet...]
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:02 PM on April 30, 2002


No veganism is, in essence, simply a decision to not consume or buy animal product which, today, is virtually impossible. It is NOT a fundamentalist religion which is defined as a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching.

By that definition, bin Laden is not a fundamentalist.

I meant that veganism is a form of fundamentalism, though not religious, where rules are adhered to for their own sake, and often in contradiction of evidence. These parents exemplify that perfectly.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:13 PM on April 30, 2002


This would be so much easier if we just fed babies other babies.
posted by solistrato at 4:22 PM on April 30, 2002


It is far more difficult to moderate a fully nutricious vegetarian diet than an omnivorous one. Our bodies have evolved a certain way over a very, very long time; it is foolish to ignore this reality and to attempt to impose a strictly philosophical diet upon them. I have known doctors whose teeth rotted because of their poor vegetarianism. The adult human body IS capable of supporting a strict, carefully-balanced vegetarian diet. The immature human body is not, not without ill-effect, the extremes of which we see in this news article. Most who choose to adhere to a vegetarian diet do not do the research required to do it safely, and yes, there are many with dietary deficiencies and the effects of same, including lack of energy and depressed immune systems. If you are one who successfully maintains a healthy vegetarian diet, then more power to you, but to be intellectually honest, you must admit that many do not, thinking that if they just "don't eat meat" they are doing enough. Nor do the failures in the diets of non-vegetarians alter the situation for vegetarians.
posted by rushmc at 5:56 PM on April 30, 2002


"Most of the vegans I've known were kind of lethargic."

funny, most of the vegans i've met have been animals in the sack.

maybe that's why they seem so lethargic... they're saving energy.
posted by jcterminal at 7:49 PM on April 30, 2002


Parents having another kid to abuse nutritionally.
posted by rushmc at 8:35 PM on May 3, 2002


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