In her recent “Edgy Mama” column, Anne Fitten Glenn says of her daughter, “I respect her desire to be a vegetarian — but when she refuses to eat enough soy, vegetable and dairy proteins, I’m going to push a little bit of meat at her.” ["Feeding Kids Meat Does Not Equal Child Abuse," May 25 Xpress.] Glenn’s concern is to make sure her child gets enough “complete protein.” Readers of Edgy Mama know that she has the best intentions when it comes to parenting, but, in this instance, she is relying on misinformation.
What does the largest group of food and nutrition professionals in the world have to say? “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence." Their 16 page, peer-reviewed position paper is available at http://avl.mx/3e.
We've been sold the protein myth by the animal agriculture industry's multibillion dollar advertising campaign. It’s hard not to fall for this ubiquitous propaganda; kids are taught it beginning in kindergarten. But science tells us that, unless one eats a junk-food diet, not getting enough protein is of little concern. Americans get too much protein, consuming, on average, twice the amount needed. Excess protein has been linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract and some cancers. To learn more, read “The Protein Myth” at http://avl.mx/3f.
If your child is leaning toward vegetarianism or veganism for ethical reasons, congratulations on raising a kid who values and respects our fellow earthlings. It’s also a healthy choice, so please try to honor and support their compassionate decision.
— Stewart David