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PCRM Advocates Healthy Vegan Diets for Children

A recent case of child abuse by “so-called” vegan parents in Scottsdale, Ariz., has raised questions in the media about the safety of meatless diets for children. PCRM dietitians have been busy setting the record straight.

vegetarian familyKimu Parker was charged with three counts of child abuse after her three children were found malnourished and emaciated. She was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Blair Parker, the children’s father, is scheduled for a court hearing in August. When the local media began responding negatively to the story, PCRM jumped in to advocate healthy vegan diets for children.

PCRM dietitian Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., immediately sent a letter to deputy county attorney Frankie Grimsman of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Ms. Levin pointed out the problem with blaming a vegan diet for these three children’s low weights and malnourishment when science simply does not support the notion that an appropriately planned vegan diet could have caused these problems.

Ms. Grimsman responded to Ms. Levin via voice mail, stating that her office is “not blaming a vegan diet. As a matter of fact, we have both pediatricians and dietitians who are testifying who are practicing a vegan diet . . . the problem is not that Blair Parker or Kimu Parker fed these children a vegan diet, the problem is that they didn’t feed them . . . I’m sorry that the news has publicized this as somewhat of an attack on a vegan diet. It absolutely is not.”

“I believe you can raise very, very healthy children on a vegan diet,” Ms. Grimsman continued. “But you can’t raise healthy children on the food that the Parkers were giving their children.”

PCRM dietitians and physicians work to educate the public about the healthfulness of vegan diets for children through media interviews, letters to the editor, and op-eds. Last year, when The New York Times ran an op-ed falsely blaming a vegan diet for the starvation death of a baby named Crown Shakur, PCRM expert Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., sent letters and op-eds to the Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and other newspapers to clarify that child abuse—not a vegan diet—caused this child’s death.

Vegan diets are not only safe for children but they’re healthier than ones based on animal products. In fact, the American Dietetic Association, the United States’ largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, states that “well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Vegetarian diets offer a number of nutritional benefits, including lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein as well as higher levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and phytochemicals.”

To learn more about healthy nutrition for children, please visit our NutritionMD website.


PCRM Online, July 2008

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