Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Response to The New York Times' trashing of vegans

NOTE: I offered this as an op-ed submission to The New York Times yesterday afternoon. As much as I love and cherish the Times, I was greatly disappointed about an op-ed they ran on veganism, and now it looks like they are sinking to new lows by not allowing a timely response to the outright lies they printed.

Heart-wrenching cases of children starving to death come up every once in a while.
Reasons why parents starve their children are hard to understand, but rarely does the diet of the parents get reported unless they themselves are starving, or they are vegans.
Meat-eaters’ disgust for all things vegan was clearly illustrated in the op-ed piece, “Death by Veganism,” written by Nina Planck and printed in The New York Times on Monday, May 21, 2007.
Frankly, I found Planck’s work disgusting, irresponsible and certainly ignorant.
She was basically reacting to the trial earlier this month of a couple who starved their child and who were sentenced to life in prison for it. Unfortunately, it’s easy to see why Planck would rant against veganism.
News coverage of the parents’ trial was laced with bias. Headlines for the story about the parents’ sentencing screamed “vegan couple” all across the United States, and the text of the story was periodically peppered with “vegan couple,” as well.
We are forgetting one thing here though: The couple’s 6-week-old child died of starvation, not veganism, and the testimony reflected that.
Were a child to be starved to death by a meat-eating couple (It does happen), I’m willing to bet the headline would not start with “meat-eating couple.”
The 6-week-old child who died was fed primarily a diet of apple juice and soy milk. What does that have to do with veganism besides not containing any meat?
I’m not aware of any vegans who support malnourishment.
If the couple only fed the child pulverized steaks and water, I’m certain it wouldn’t take long for the child to die of starvation.
Whether you are a vegan or a meat-eater, you need to eat a balanced diet for optimum health.
Vegan diets for both children and adults are healthy. Don’t take my word on this. It is both the position of the American Dietetic Association and the Dietitians of Canada and countless nutritionists throughout the world.
Both the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in June 2003 and the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research in its summer 2003 issue both printed the following statement: “Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence.”
This is the consensus of American and Canadian experts in nutrition.
How many nutrition degrees does Planck have? I’m guessing none from looking at her official Web site. She is not an expert in the science of food, and for her not to cite scientific sources or even actual nutritionists in her trashing of veganism is simply loony.
For the prestigious New York Times to print such trash is equally irresponsible. Printing opinion is fine, but Planck attempted to pass off expert advice when she had none to offer. Our nation’s paper of record should hold high standards for its columnists and not let them get away with complete fallacies.
Planck pretends that it is politically incorrect to criticize vegans and alludes to that being the reason why vegans are being allowed to have children with no one standing up to them about their diet.
Let me ask you, when haven’t vegans been criticized? Vegans get ostracized because of what they don’t eat by their families, their friends, by the people they work with and by the community at large.
Speaking from personal experience, it’s not fashionable to be vegan, and it’s not fun being an outcast.
Considering the well-documented positive impact that veganism has on people’s health and on the environment and its advantage in not contributing to our society’s outrageous exploitation of animals, both my wife and I find it morally unacceptable to be anything other than a vegan.
If we ever decided to have a child, we would raise it vegan, and I wouldn’t for a second be any more worried about its health than any other parent.


  1. Here is a really good article by Dr. John McDougall, who certainly knows a little more about the science of nutrition than Nina Plank: http://www.delicioustv.com/blog/?p=112