Vegan diets have captured the hearts and meal tables of thousands of people the world over. Many more are joining the bandwagon. So much so 'veganism' is the diet funda of the times, adults, old and children alike.
But a study done by an American scientist had warned that these kinds of diets are not healthy for children. She has spoken strongly against parents who insist their children turn into vegans.
According to Prof. Lindsay Allen of the US Agricultural Research Service, 'There have been sufficient studies clearly showing that when women avoid all animal foods, their babies are born small, they grow very slowly and they are developmentally retarded, possibly permanently.'
Her stand is that many nutrients can only be derived from consumption of animal foods.
In a strongly worded statement she said, 'If you're talking about feeding young children, pregnant women and lactating women, I would go as far as to say it is unethical to withhold these foods [animal source foods] during that period of life.'
Her findings are based on the research she carried out among 544 African schoolchildren. The outcome was that as little as two spoonfuls of meat each day is enough to provide nutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc and iron.
Over two years, some of the children were given 2oz supplements of meat each day, equivalent to about two spoonfuls of mince.
Two other groups received either a cup of milk a day or an oil supplement containing the same amount of energy. The diet of a fourth group was left unaltered.
Adding either meat or milk to the diets also almost completely eliminated the very high rates of vitamin B12 deficiency previously seen in the children.
The vegan diet can provide you with more energy, nutrition, and is bursting with goodness. said a spokesperson of the Vegan Society in the UK.
Thus there is a controversy of sorts between the scientist and pro vegans.
No conclusive statement can be made at this stage.