Predators vs herbivores
If you type in the word "vegan" in the search bar, Google will give you the options "vegans are a sect", "vegans are bad" and "vegans live longer" in the first place. In fact, the drama of the relationship between vegans and meat eaters rests on these three statements. The former argue that refusing animal food not only does not lead to the killing of animals, but also preserves youth, improves health, reduces the risk of cancer and prolongs life. The second - that animal protein is necessary for a person, and people actively promoting veganism are almost sectarians.
There are radicals in both camps. According to the analytical company "Kribrum", which monitored Russian social networks during the year - from October 2018 to October 2019, - 26% of all messages on the topic of "veganism" on the Runet were negative in relation to the idea of refusing animal food and to people who follow a plant-based diet.
At the same time, the majority of haters hate vegans for no reason or for imposing their ideas, and very little (8%) for what vegans make their children "herbivores".
It is in this small group that the fiercest battles and the strongest rejection of vegans - to be convinced of this, just go to any parent forum in the thread of discussion of the acceptability of a plant-based diet for children.
"We do not go to kindergarten, because no one wants to make concessions there, they are not allowed with their food. We are looking for a private kindergarten with a vegan menu."
"We're homeschooled from the school cafeteria."
“The mother-in-law threatens to complain to her custody and all the time drips on her husband’s brains that I need to be treated. her".
There are hundreds of such stories. All vegan families, unlike ordinary ones, are almost equally unhappy - they fight daily with grandparents, mother-in-law and mother-in-law, with pediatricians and teachers for the right to feed the child at their discretion.
When faced with a lack of understanding of others, vegans often surround themselves with like-minded people, minimize or even break off relations with dissenting relatives, transfer children to homeschooling, or look for a private school where children are cooked vegan dishes.
According to a study by the analytical company "Kribrum", vegans often share the philosophy of yoga, healthy lifestyle, feminism, are concerned about environmental problems, are interested in Vedic culture and Ayurveda.
They are attracted by vegan-friendly countries, primarily India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, where vegetarianism surprises no one. Many people move there for permanent residence or spend the winter in warm regions.
"My dream is to go to India with my daughter," writes 40-year-old Elena on one of the forums. She worked as a guide in India for several seasons and it was there that she first became a vegetarian and then a vegan. Then she got married and gave birth to a daughter. Family relations began to deteriorate when Elena forbade her husband and mother-in-law to give the child animal food. The year of altercations and scandals ended in divorce for the family.
"Now he is threatening to sue my daughter, ban her from leaving Russia. He came to us and brought a whole package of children's cottage cheese and meat cans on purpose. And the daughter is sick of cottage cheese! And the smell of meat cannot stand it. This is a mockery, I think!" - Elena is indignant.
“We are also getting divorced,” another mother writes to her in response. “The husband took the child to him and gives him meat there - the son says that he and dad ate dumplings. I'm terrified! I tried to find a doctor who would say in court that veganism is not harmful to the child, - I found a well-known nutritionist.But she said she couldn't say that! And the lawyer advised in court to declare that I eat meat and generally not a vegan, that my husband is lying! And that this is the only chance for my son to stay with me. I don't want to lie, but he promised to take away his son."
Is it worth a children's menu, in which there will be not a carrot or cabbage, but a beef cutlet, not a fruit smoothie, but kefir and milk, in order to divide the child in court for the sake of it? Is veganism a threat to children's health from the cradle when vegans say they feel great and look younger than their meat-eaters?
Doctors have answers to these questions.
Vegans. Pro et contra
One of the arguments of opponents of vegans is the harm of an exclusively plant-based diet, a lack of important nutrients, protein, vitamins. Vegans fend off: it is the consumption of red meat and by-products that increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Arseniy Martinchik, a nutrition specialist, MD, professor, leading researcher at the Federal Research Center of Nutrition and Biotechnology, agrees with vegans: “Adults should better reduce their consumption of red meat - if it’s difficult, then you need to do it gradually. First, eat meat once a day., then two or three times a week, then once a month. Red meat once a month is the recommendation of the Mediterranean diet. It is better to replace meat with fish, seafood, legumes."
The complete absence of animal protein in the diet of an adult, according to the nutritionist, will not have a destructive effect on the body with a well-designed menu.
"For a healthy adult, a properly organized vegetarian and even vegan diet is great. Let me emphasize that this is not a diet in which only cereals and cabbage with potatoes are present, but a complete diet, in which there is enough vegetable protein - soybeans, legumes, seeds, seaweed, as well as cereals, green vegetables, fruits. For adults who are no longer growing, such a diet helps maintain a normal body weight, does not gain weight, is the prevention of hypertension, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular and oncological diseases."
But for children, says Arseniy Martinchik, such a diet does harm, not benefit: after all, a growing body needs protein for full development, and a child is not able to eat so much plant food to get the right amount of it because of the small volumes of the stomach.
"In children, veganism leads to the development of unfavorable conditions. This is anemia due to a lack of assimilable iron - only 5-10% of iron is absorbed from plant products; there is no vitamin B12 in the plant diet; there is a problem of rickets development and, finally, growth retardation due to for a deficiency of protein, zinc, vitamins B6 and B12, iodine. Increased risk - in children of strict vegetarians. Children of ovolacto-vegetarians who allow eggs and dairy products to eat have fewer problems."
A vegan diet is unacceptable for children and adolescents, says Elena Petryaykina, chief freelance specialist, children's endocrinologist of the Moscow City Health Department, head physician of the Morozov Children's City Clinical Hospital.
“We have had cases in the hospital when the children of such vegan parents were brought in in a state of severe exhaustion,” says the doctor. “To this, vegan adherents usually say that the child's diet was simply poorly calculated. It turns out that we put the growth and development of the child into dependence. from the views of his parents."
Vitamin complexes with which vegans often make up for the lack of animal products in the diet, according to Elena Petryaykina, cannot fully replace the vitamins obtained from food.
“Instead of full nutrition, a crutch is substituted for a child, a prosthesis is substituted vitamin therapy. This is a treatment. By transferring a child to a completely plant-based diet, we doom him to some kind of disease that requires the replacement of necessary substances with chemicals.Protein deficiency also affects the hormonal status of the child, immunity, and inhibits growth."
Doctors urge parents not to put them on a diet that is consistent with their parenting philosophy. After all, the philosophy of a child can change during life. And it will be difficult to improve the undermined health.