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Strong words about the effects of a vegan diet on infants, babies, and toddlers

An op-ed in The New York Times is critical of the effects of veganism (a vegetarian who omits all animal products from the diet) on young ones.

The money quotes?

  • “You cannot create and nourish a robust baby merely on foods from plants.”
  • “Protein deficiency is one danger of a vegan diet for babies.”
  • “A vegan diet may lack vitamin B12, found only in animal foods; usable vitamins A and D, found in meat, fish, eggs and butter; and necessary minerals like calcium and zinc. When babies are deprived of all these nutrients, they will suffer from retarded growth, rickets and nerve damage.”
  • “Yet even a breast-fed baby is at risk. Studies show that vegan breast milk lacks enough docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, the omega-3 fat found in fatty fish. It is difficult to overstate the importance of DHA, vital as it is for eye and brain development.”
  • “A vegan diet is equally dangerous for weaned babies and toddlers, who need plenty of protein and calcium. Too often, vegans turn to soy, which actually inhibits growth and reduces absorption of protein and minerals.”

The author is Nina Planck who also wrote Real Food: What to Eat and Why.

5/21/07 10:32 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.