This week, Belgium’s Royal Academy of Medicine stated that children, teens, and pregnant women should avoid a strict vegan diet.
As reported by CNN, Isabelle Thiebaut has been the main spoke-person of these new recommendations.
As co-author of the findings and sitting president of a European organization for dieticians, she explained the opinion as follows:
“it is important to explain to parents about “weight-loss and psychomotor delays, undernutrition, anemia” and other possible nutritional shortfalls caused by a vegan diet for children.”
In other words, Thiebaut is talking about a vegan diet administered in the wrong way. As we all know, a healthy vegan approach will not have any of those shortfalls.
The report states that an estimated 3% of Belgian children follow a vegan diet.
The belief is that the exclusion of meat, eggs, dairy products and the adherence to a strictly plan-based diet creates “unavoidable” nutritional shortcomings.
Again, I find this viewpoint blinkered and is an unnecessarily biased appraisal of what following a vegan diet actually means.
According to the academy’s statement a vegan diet can lead to deficiencies and stunted development in children.
He discouraged the diet for children and pregnant women citing “irreversible” harms as one of the outcomes of following a strict vegan eating plan.
A representative of a national human rights organization, commissioned the opinion. Paediatricians and other health care workers were consulted as part of the data gathering.
The report went on to advise that parents intending to pursue a plant based diet for their children will need to introduce nutritional supplements in order to counter the “deficiencies” of vegan food. Regular blood tests should also be conducted to ensure the child is healthy.
Thankfully, this anti-vegan viewpoint is not shared by all.
The British Dietetic Association stated that:
“well-planned plant-based, vegan-friendly diets can be devised to support healthy living at every age and life-stage.”
Exactly! The UK has around 600,000 vegans, roughly 1.2% of the population in 2018, according to the nonprofit Vegan Society.
In the USA, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics responded by stating:
“Appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”
A position paper goes further and opinions that vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and obesity.
Take that Belgium’s Royal Academy of Medicine!