Controversy rises in vegan diet

Paige Nordeen

There tends to be different ends of a spectrum for every ideology, religion, belief and lifestyle. However, vegans, who consume no animal products, have taken the cake with the recent malnutrition related child deaths.

The vegan community wonders why they have such a black eye on their reputation. With bumper stickers such as, “save a cow, eat a vegan” and jokes regarding the excessive release of methane among the vegan population, it is no wonder enmity is a problem. Perhaps the past deaths among children due to a strict vegan diet have something to do with it.

In Atlanta, two vegan parents were recently sentenced to life in prison for the death of their 6-week-old son who died of malnutrition April 25, 2004, according to a report by the Associated Press. The baby was on a diet of primarily organic apple juice and soy milk and weighed three and a half pounds when he died.

In Miami, a 6-month-old baby died of malnutrition from her strict vegan diet on May 15, 2003. Her parents were sentenced with child neglect and face up to 20 years in prison, according to a report by Court TV News.

According to medical reports, both of these children weighed much less than an average child their age at their time of death. One can only question the morals of the vegan ideology and how far parents should take their beliefs.

Malnutrition is one of the many risks when raising infants on a vegan diet. Medical reports show that newborns should mainly be raised on their mother’s breast milk, excluding both soy milk and cow’s milk. The digestion of soy milk during pregnancy has become a growing controversy.

” A new study of babies born to vegetarian mothers showed that baby boys had a five-fold risk of hypospadias, a birth defect of the penis. According to research stated by Jane Phillimore in the “Guardian Unlimited,” “The researchers suggest this was due to greater exposure to phytoestrogen rich-foods, especially soy. Inappropriate hormone levels such as that caused by a high intake of soy during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy can also cause damage to the fetus’s developing brain.”

Research has shown that soy-formula contains approximately the same amount of estrogen found in five birth control pills. Imagine the effect this has on children, not to mention baby boys. “These babies’ isoflavone levels were found to be from 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than in non-soy fed infants,” according to Not only would males be digesting surplus amounts of estrogen in their soy diet, but the estrogen has also been shown to actually stifle their testosterone levels.

So where does this leave the soy milk-drinking, tofu-eating, vegan mother-to-be? Eat dairy while pregnant ladies. Research is there for those eyes to read over and minds to take advantage of. When the children reach an older age appropriate for the consumption of actual dairy, approximately 1 and a 1/2 to 2 years old, cow’s milk should be the preferred choice, which consists of higher amounts of protein and not extreme amounts of estrogen.

Perhaps the choice to become a vegan or a vegetarian should be left to the child at an adult age. The bottom line is, children need more protein than adults. A vegan might be able to survive and live a healthy life on their standards; however, this does not necessarily mean their children will be able to as well.