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Vegetarian diet for children

Jun 21, 1998 05:37 PM
by M K Ramadoss

For those who may have some misgivings about children brought up as
vegetarians, here is what Dr. Spock says. For those who grew up in India,
where a majority are lacto vegetarians, there is no doubt that meat, sea
food and poultry is not necessary for a healthy body.


NEW YORK (CNN) -- In death even as in life, Dr. Benjamin Spock's
                  pronouncements on raising children are
                  sparking sharp debate.

                  In the newly updated edition of the noted pediatrician's
landmark book, "Baby and Child Care," Spock, who died in March, advocates a
vegetarian diet for children and urges parents not to give them milk or
other dairy products after the age of 2.

                  But some nutritionists and pediatricians -- including
Spock's own co-author -- disagree with his recommendations.

                  Noted child expert Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, a friend of
Spock, went so far as to call them "absolutely insane" in an interview with
The New York Times.

                  "Meat is an excellent source of the iron and protein
children need, and to take away milk from children, I think that's really
dangerous. Milk is needed for calcium and vitamin D," Brazelton said.

                  The call for no meat or dairy products for children marks
a change for "Baby and Child Care," which was first published in 1946 and
has sold more copies in the United States than any book except the Bible.
In the first six editions of the book, Spock consistently recommended meat
and dairy                  products for children.

                  'A tremendous health advantage'

                  But in 1991, Spock himself embraced vegetarianism at the
age of 88, lost 50 pounds and conquered chronic bronchitis. And in the
latest edition, he urges parents to start children on the vegetarian road
early in life because "when children develop a taste for meats, it is hard
to break this habit later on."

                  "Children who grow up getting nutrition from plant foods
rather than meats have a tremendous health advantage. They are less likely
to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and some forms of
cancer," writes Spock.

                  He also advised that growing kids can get the calcium
they need from leafy green vegetables, soy milk and beans, rather than from
cow's milk and dairy products, which he says are too high in fat and can
aggravate conditions such as asthma and chronic ear infections.

                  Spock's co-author, Dr. Steven J. Parker, who disagreed
with the recommendations, told The New York Times that Spock believed a
vegetarian diet had "given him a new lease on life" and that he wanted the
latest issue of his book to be "in the forefront" of linking animal-based
foods to disease.

>From CNN

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