Veggie Health for Kids
Every nutrient a child needs and
how to get it.
A guide for parents showing why vegetarian/vegan diets are the healthiest
option for children.
World turned upside
down! / What You Need and Where You
Get It / How Animal Products Affect
Children / How Animal Products Affect
Adults / Conclusions
How Animal Products
The word allergy describes a bad reaction to something - it is the
body's defence (immune) system leaping to protect you against what it
believes is a foreign invader. Asthma (breathlessness with wheezing),
eczema (red, itchy and flaky skin), rhinitis (constant runny or congested
nose), hay-fever and urticaria (skin rashes) are classical allergies.
Of course, in most cases this defence reaction is unnecessary and so
allergies can be a sign of a ‘compromised’ immune system
- it isn ’t functioning 100 per cent as it should.
Reactions can be particularly violent - and deadly - with allergies to
such things as peanuts. Food ‘intolerance’ produces a less
dramatic and slower reaction and may not be the result of a dodgy immune
The most common food allergies (or intolerances) are to foods that are
eaten regularly, such as cow’s milk and wheat. A reaction to the
main protein in cow’s milk (casein) is the most common allergy in
childhood and affects between 4 and 75 babies in every 1000. When a baby
swallows cow’s milk, bits of this protein get into his or her immune
system. Excessive mucus production resulting in a constant, runny nose,
blocked ears or a persistent sore throat is often the first sign of a problem
with cow’s milk. More serious problems such as eczema, colic, diarrhoea,
asthma and vomiting are the body’s way of trying to get rid of the
A good number of scientists now believe that no whole cow’s milk
at all should be given to a baby during the first year of his or
her life, when the immune system is still developing.
Allergies are on the increase - but why? Saturated fat may carry
some of the blame. It was found that the children of mother's who
ate a lot of this fat while they were breastfeeding had an increased
allergies later in life.
Crohn's disease also appears to be on the increase and affects about
90,000 people in the UK. This debilitating, chronic (long-term) inflammation
of the digestive system is, however, rare in parts of the world where
people eat a low-fat, high-fibre diet. The scientific evidence is stacking
up, one study pointing the finger at animal protein - meat and cow's
milk. Another has discovered that a bacteria found in cattle is the same
one that causes Crohn’s disease. Apparently pasteurisation of milk
- heating it to 72 degrees for 15 to 25 seconds - may not kill
these disease-causing bugs.
The avoidance of meat is likely to reduce the risk of coronary artery
disease, because meat is the major source of saturated fat...High
consumption of red meat has adverse health consequences: thus vegetarian
to impart health advantages. ”
DR WALTER C WILLETT, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL, ONE OF THE WORLD’S
MOST DISTINGUISHED EXPERTS ON NUTRITION.
Coronary heart disease, or CHD, results from the narrowing of the main
blood vessels from the heart which is why it’s also called coronary
artery disease. The problem stems from hard fatty deposits of cholesterol
stiffening and clogging up the arteries. Blood supply to the heart muscles
is reduced and may eventually stop completely and the result is a heart
Cholesterol is a major risk factor for CHD - and saturated (mainly animal)
fat makes the body produce more cholesterol. Sadly, a lot of children’s
foods are stacked with saturated fat. Incredibly, autopsy studies show
that fatty streaks in the arteries - the first signs of furring up - are
found even in very young children!
The same things which put older people at risk of heart attacks - high
cholesterol levels, overweight and high blood pressure - are the same as
in young people. The WHO has become almost weary from repeating how important
it is to give kids a healthy, high-fibre, low-fat diet start to life because
it’s here that the problem of heart disease begins.
You don’t need telling that sugar is enemy number one when it comes
to tooth decay (dental caries). But all kinds of foods can play a part,
depending on their stickiness and nutrient content. A small plain chocolate
bar eaten in one go for instance is probably less damaging than sucking
on a chewy sweet for ages that literally sticks to the teeth. There are
also foods that help reduce decay - rice, bread and potatoes and the less
refined they are the better. So it follows that a vegetarian diet based
largely on unrefined carbohydrates tends to produce fewer and smaller cavities.
Fresh fruit, even though it contains fruit sugars (fructose), is less damaging
than the sugar in sweets.
|“A diet free of meat, fish, milk and eggs
is by far the safest and one that I highly recommend.”
Emanuel Goldman, Professor of Microbiology
Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or IDDM for short) is when
the body produces no insulin. Type 2 (non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
- NIDDM) is where insulin is still produced but the body becomes less sensitive
to it. Insulin is a hormone which helps the body to absorb glucose (sugar)
from the blood. Without it, blood sugar levels rise.
Diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. Type
2 is rising dramatically but the right kind of diet can correct or even
prevent it. (See Diabetes section on page 20).
Cow’s milk in infancy may trigger type 1 diabetes by destroying
the body’s ability to produce insulin.
A diet free of meat, fish, milk and eggs is by far the safest and
one that I highly recommend.”
EMANUEL GOLDMAN, PROFESSOR OF MICROBIOLOGY & GENETICS.
A recent government report said that an astonishing 9.5 million people
in the UK get food poisoning each year and the one’s most at risk
are little children under one. Eating animal products causes a staggering
95 per cent of all cases, with meat being the main culprit as the guilty
bacteria thrive on rotting flesh. Poor hygiene can spread the infection
to normally safe foods through contamination.
Perhaps even more worrying is the fact that one in 10 British children
are carrying superbugs resistant to one or more antibiotics. Antibiotics
are the last refuge when food poisoning develops into blood poisoning.
There are now fewer and fewer that will work when they’re really
needed - to save lives. They have been used almost on a daily basis to
dose animals in factory farms in a desperate attempt to control the rampant
diseases that these systems spread and the bacteria have simply become
The three main food-poisoning bacteria resistant to drugs are: Salmonella,
Campylobacter and Escherichia coli (E. coli). Whilst E. coli normally lives
quite happily in our guts without causing any harm, some strains cause
disease. The most serious is E. coli 0157. It can stick to the gut wall
and release a chemical into the bloodstream which causes kidney failure.
Again, it is the young who are most at risk. This superbug is thought to
be the single biggest cause of kidney failure in children and it is spread
from the faeces produced by farmed animals - cattle in particular.
According to the government there are some foods you can eat to avoid
the risk of food poisoning - foods that cut your risk by up to 70 per cent.
Four of these are pulses, salad, fruit and rice - all everyday ingredients
in a veggie diet. (See Viva! guide Stop
Bugging Me for further information
on food poisoning.)
Overweight and Obesity
The UK population as a whole has a serious weight problem and that
includes children. Ten per cent of boys and 14.5 per cent of girls aged
four to 11 years are now overweight and some children as young as five
Mild obesity in childhood is linked to increased blood pressure and higher
levels of insulin and cholesterol - and it may carry on into adulthood.
There’s no mystery about the causes of obesity - diet and activity
play equal parts. Meat and dairy come loaded with hefty amounts of fat
while vegetarian diets contain more carbohydrates, pulses, fruits and vegetables
and less fat. No surprise, then, that vegetarians are, on average, leaner
than meat eaters.
Rheumatoid Arthritis affects more than 750,000 people in the UK and
one child in every thousand. Dairy products, meat and eggs can all be
triggers as can corn, nuts and citrus fruits. In 1985, the case emerged
of a 14 year- old girl who had been hospitalised nine times since the
age of eight with painful and swollen joints. Diagnosed with juvenile
rheumatoid arthritis, she was told to avoid dairy products and the swelling
disappeared within a week. The arthritis returned three times in later
life, each time after she’d eaten dairy products. A small piece
of milk chocolate was enough to trigger it.
Government tests show that more than 40% of all our food contains
pesticide residues. Highly poisonous chemicals have polluted all the
world’s oceans and they have contaminated every single sea creature.
Because of this, eating fish is increasingly a risky business - and particularly
oily fish such as mackerel, herring, sprats and pilchards because fat
soaks up the poisons. Farmed salmon, who are largely fed on wild-caught
fish, are a particular problem.
The culprits are substances called PCBs and dioxins and they can damage
the immune system and affect a child’s intelligence. They can even
have a gender-bending effect, producing male characteristics in females
and vice versa. Produced by industrial processes, PCBs are now banned but
they will hang around in the environment for decades. They contaminate
particles in the sea which are eaten by small fish. The poisons concentrate
in their fat and so it goes on up the food chain as little fish are eaten
by bigger fish.
The problem is extremely serious and affects meat and dairy to some degree
as well because of their high fat content. The European Commission (EU)
guidelines on safety limits for dioxins in foods means that half of all
British children under five years old could be exceeding safety levels.