Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 22nd 2016 Contents A24
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, October 22, 2016
PHILADELPHIA---There s a right way and a wrong
way to raise a baby on vegan food. Those who get
it wrong, parents say, give the responsible ones
a bad name.
A Pennsylvania mother claiming to be vegan was
charged this month with child endangerment for
feeding her baby nothing but small amounts of
nuts and berries.
In Italy, after a number of vegan babies required
hospitalisation for malnourishment, a lawmaker
this summer proposed a bill that would make it a
crime to feed children under 16 a vegan diet.
Those cases are not about veganism at all, but
are instead about neglect, say parents who are
raising their children vegan. Pinning bad parenting
on vegan diets, some say, unfairly stigmatises those
who have done their homework and are safely
raising their babies without feeding them animal
products like meat and dairy.
"They 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," said Fulvia Serra, of Fort
Collins, Colorado. The native of southern Italy is
raising her one-year-old son vegan, and her 12-
year-old daughter is vegetarian.
"To get a child to the point of starvation, it means
you are ignoring him and his crying all the time,"
she said. "It s neglect."
The American Academy of Pediatrics book Pedi-
atric Nutrition devotes a chapter to vegetarian and
vegan diets. It describes how, with sound nutrition
and dietary planning, "it is possible to provide a
balanced diet to vegetarians and vegans."
"For children in general you can have a safe vegan
diet, but it has to be in consultation with a pedi-
atrician or health care provider," said Sheela Magge,
an endocrinologist at the Children s National Health
System and a member of the American Academy
of Pediatrics committee on nutrition.
"These are critical times in brain development,
and it has to be done carefully."
The ideal first food for babies is breast milk,
Magge said. Many vegan moms opt to breastfeed,
but for those who can t or don t, the only other
option is a soy-based formula. Key nutrients for
babies are Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D, as well as
iron, zinc and calcium, Magge said. Getting enough
B-12, which comes from milk and eggs, is a specific
concern in the vegan diet, since a shortage can lead
to neurological problems.
A pediatrician can help guide parents and offer
supplements if needed.
In the Pennsylvania case, Elizabeth Hawk was
charged October 4 with endangering her 11-month-
old son by restricting him to a diet of small amounts
of fruit and nuts. Hawk, 30, of Farmington, became
"obsessed" with a vegan diet, prompting her
estranged husband to contact Fayette County child
welfare workers, according to a criminal complaint.
Doctors determined in August that the baby had
developmental delays and couldn t crawl because
he was malnourished, according to the complaint.
The malnourishment also worsened a bad rash, the
complaint said. Stories of vegan parents being
arrested for malnourished children pop up every
few years in the US, and the cases in Italy have
made international news.
In 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.
Reed Mangels is a nutritionist in Amherst, Mas-
sachusetts, who works with the Vegetarian Resource
Group, a nonprofit education and advocacy group.
She raised her two children, now 24 and 21, vegan.
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
"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?"
Parents 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.
For those who would question the safety of raising
vegan babies, her suggested response is: "The doc-
tors say we are doing it right." (AP)
In this photo
holds her one-
home in Fort
Raising a vegan baby: Parents
say abuse cases give a bad rap
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