Skepchick Quickies 4.19


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. I see nothing wrong with kids being vegan. I'm not even going to qualify that with "as long as their parents make sure they're getting good nutrition" because, well, duh. Parents should be doing that even if they aren't vegan, though so many fail (with help from the schools). It's just like any other ethical lesson you give your kids. When they're young they do it "cuz [I] said so" and then when they're older they learn the reasons for the decision and then get to make it themselves. I am against giving them unfounded reasons for the decision – and against people who can't be vegan due to medical reasons being forced to be vegan. Otherwise, until there's evidence it's harmful/not, not my business

  2. I remember a while back a news story I read where two parents were aresseted for neglect because they had their todler & baby on a vegan diet, but apparently they weren't doing a very good job of it. The kids were underweight and malnourished (I think the baby had to go to the hospital, which is how the parents were discovered). Their diet worked perfectly fine for them, but was no good for their kids.
    I think the danger is mostly that children and adults have very different nutritional needs, and if you put your kids on a strict vegan diet without seriously doing your research, you run the risk of leaving them malnourished. I'm sure it can probably be done, though as the article sugessts, it probably gets harder if you end up with a picky eater when they get older.

    1. … Typing into google it seems this has happended a few times – people convicted of murder because they were both vegan AND making poor choices about infant nutrition. They all seem to be connected by a common thread of (Vegan for moral reasons) + ("natural is better, and can't be harmful" philosophy) + (some kind of anti-hospital/anti science attitude).  

      1. I used to be on a vegan forum (I find that vegans are obsessed wtih food and therefor make pretty good cooks). I remember when one of the stories of a malnurished baby on soy milk hit the overwhelming response from Vegans was "THOSE IDIOTS". Though this could be the 'no true scottsman' fallacy, it was certainly better than them all defending the parents.

    2. I know several times it happened due to strict soy milk rations for small children. This article does point out that  breastfeeding moms and kids who still rely mostly on milk need to be given highly fortified soy milk. Without that fortification there isn't enough densely packed nutrition for an infant to grow (which is the point of milk).

      1. This is something which has always kinda bothered  me. People will lambast stuff like WonderBread because they strip out all the nutrients and then "fortify" it with additional minerals/nutreints during processing but this isn't considered a good thing or as healthy as whole grain (fiber is a factor as well I know).
        But a lot of stuff on a vegan diet, particularlly one aimed at children has fortificatoins for viatmins/protien/nutrients that simply aren't common in vegatables and grains. But in this instance the same fortification process is considered good and healthier. (Honestly soy products are some of the mostly heavily processed things on the shelf particularly soy milk I think). 
        Can one of our vegan/vegatarian commenters explain the difference? Or is this just an extension of the naturalistic fallacy used to remove cognative dissonance?

        1. Can one of our vegan/vegatarian commenters explain the difference?

          Well I think you have the pre-conception that all vegans buy is fancy schmancy products from whole foods or trader joes.  Not true AT ALL.  Vegans tend to be pretty knowledgeable cooks, so a lot of us just make stuff from produce bought from the store, and therefore fortification isn't necessary because the food itself is derived directly from whole vegetables.
          Also, the vegans who are into pseudo-science will indeed make up lots of bullshit about how vegan products will cure your cancer and turn your kids into quantum physicists, so just ignore them and know that there are vegans who are into rational thinking as well.
          As to kids being picky, this is true, it gets harder.  But our solution to this has been to keep a very wide pallette of foods (Indian, Thai, Chinese, US Typical Food, Soul Food, West European Dishes, Russian Food, etc.) so the kids have options. Also, we taught ours how to cook since they were like 5 years old (kids learn amazingly fast), so now that they're a bit older, they're actually able to make something they want to eat if we don't feel like cooking. 
          Teaching them how to cook was the best step I think we could've done because they understand the dyanmics of flavor pretty deeply now and tend to input their thoughts into it during dinner planning.   Makes our lives so much fucking easier :).

  3. A kid was killed by his vegan parents a while back when they fed him wheat milk rather than baby formula. This article repeats that fallacy saying "her kids do drink milk, except it’s made from almonds, hemp or rice." Except, of course, that this stuff is not milk. It's often possible to grow up healthy with a vegan diet, but you have to be very careful with it. 

  4. I am commenting all over this piece. But I just wanted to say that I love rebel nuns so much. I grew up with a large group of them (most of whom have sadly passed away). And they can be some of the awesomest and most inspiring ladies within the Catholic church. It in no way makes the church's actions better but when you're young and stuck inside it growning up they really do help to inspire young girls to push back against the more regressive messages. If the church loses rebel nuns I could see many more young people walking away from it. 

    1. I'm pulling this from Jezebel's coverage of the same announcement.

      [T]he church's biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops, who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.

      That is some amazing language right there. U wimminz need to understand that you have no power or opinions. Stop acting like you do and fall in line behind the menz.  ><

      1. As I was taught by "non-rebel" nuns for a good chunk of my elementary school education, it's not surprising that I am the atheist I am today ;)

  5. Sigh, here we go again.  Brace for the random vegan-bashing guys and multiple peolple repeating:

    1. Really? Everyone so far is agreeing that with a heavily fortified diet it's possible for children to be healthy on a vegan diet.

        1. That's my point of curiousity–beyond the need for extensive research and the work involved in preparing a pure-vegan child diet, I do wonder what the cost is, and if it's remotely feasible for folks making less than 50K, especially for single parents, or those having to both work outside the home (and thus lacking time for food-preparation).

          1. Basically, flour, beans, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, brocoli cauliflower, eggplant, etc.  The same thing as meat eaters buy.  Therefore the budget is the same.  I buy my produce for cheap at wally world.  For calcium you can get all you need from leafy greens, and vitamin D from mushrooms or fortified OJ (or the sun in the summer), so milk subsitutes aren't necessary. 
            Point being: You don't have to buy fancy pre-made vegan stuff at whole foods to be vegan.  I think people have this concept that you have to by shi-shi products to be vegan.  Not true.  You can buy everything you need at wally world, and it's generally not more expensive than buying meat because meat eaters buy the same things. 
            However if you live in a food desert you're fucked.  Also, poverty stricken people generally are very wrapped up in just surviving, so doing the research to become vegan and putting the energy into implementing it is hard here in the states.  It's weird because in India, it's quite the opposite, vegetables of all types are all over the place and cheap, so being a vegan or veggie there is widely accessible (that is if you can afford food at all).

          2. //lacking time for food-preparation//
            Unfortunately this is actually a threat to health regardless of meat or meatless eating.  Many children are malnourished because their parents don't feed them healthy or can't afford to feed them healthy and it leads to sick children even if they're omnivores.
            So it brings up an interesting issue, what can we do to increase nutritional quality of the food that children get in this country?

      1. It's not really "heavily fortified". They only fortified food you need is B12. Possibly vitamin D, depending where you live, but that's true for most people. It's hardly more fortified than everyone getting their iodine through salt. 
        Not saying B12 should be a non-issue. I am really annoyed when people claim you get it from not washing your greens or whatever new thing it is today. 

  6. As the article mentinos, the (former) ADA approves vegan/vegetarian lifestyles for all stages of life, including pregnant mothers and children.  But, of course, you have to pay attention to the nutrition you give your child, which is true with all diets.  
    Their position paper is here- http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf
    And one of the authors of that paper runs a great blog on vegan nutrition here- http://www.theveganrd.com/
    I'm vegan but my girlfriend is not.  We've (so far) decided that if we chose to multiply, the kid would not, at first, be a vegan.  Mainly because it's a choice that I've made and I have no wish to force it on a kid.  No need to point out the million obvious objections to that lien of thinking- the discussion is ongoing :P

    1. How would you react (yes, I’m asking for speculation, but just for fun and conversation) if your yet to be born vegan child came home from school one day and proclaimed that they were now an omnivore and would be hence forth eating the meat and dairy laden school lunches? And I ask because in matters of choice many parents are confronted with a child who says they are no longer following the family religion or philosophy or they are no longer going to smoke pot with their parents or live in a teepee in the woods anymore. And yes the last two are real life examples, but definitely not ones from Texas. I currently work with at risk teens and one of the frequent issues of conflict I see is when a high school age kid tells his/her parents s/he’s no longer going to church or no longer believes in god; and I've often wondered what would the issue be for a skeptical atheist type parent aside from a child declaring a religious belief.

      1. One of my kids said he wanted to try fish and eat dairy in lunches.  And I guess like the examples above, I spoke with him about hte consequences.  I told him it was his choice, but that he should think about how fish and other animals get to your stomach, and that maybe he should try killing one himself.
        He did just that, he caught a fish and gutted it himself and ate it, and now eats it from time to time.  And yeah, he's still mine, and I respect his choice, and so I didn't kick him out or send him to the rainbow gathering re-education camp or anything.
        You can't really stop children from making choices, and as a parent have to live that your kids will have different beliefs, ethics, and outlooks than you.  I think what you encounter at work is parents who can't deal with children who have signifcant differences.

  7. Interesting discussion. My wife became a vegan about 2 years ago as a result of a heart problem and the influence of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyne. It's actually a no-added-oil, no nuts, no processed anything vegan diet. I call it extreme veganism. I'm about 90% there…hard to give up cheese, peanut butter, and an occassional slice of pizza :-) Just for the record we've both lost over 50 lbs and she's stopped suffering angina. See "Forks Over Knives" if you want to know more.
    Non-human milk certainly couldn't be a requirement for healthy children because there are large portions of the human population whose digestive systems are not adapted to drinking it.
    It is possible to be a malnurished vegan, just as it's possible to be a malnurished omnivore eating the standard American diet. There is increasing evidence that the American diet is at least contributing to, if not downright causing, the increase in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer in younger people. That diet is high in dense proteins and fat, low in fiber and other nutrients. Fortifying it doesn't make it particularly better as the fortifications mostly pass right through us. 
    One thing about the vegan diet, you have to eat a lot and it's challenging to keep it interesting. That's one reason, I think, vegan websites have so many recipes. It's also one reason why some doctors advocating a plant-based diet recommend veggie smoothies (but others don't).
    About soy: One thing I learned is that soy products are "processed food" and tend to be quite high in fat. I had to hunt a lot to find tofu that had less that 10% fat. The increase in soy products in our diet is in part the result of the US government subsidies to the farm industry to produce soy, most of which goes to cattle. 
    Which brings me to the final point: A plant-based diet might be one of the things we can do for the environment. Mark Bittman at the NY Times, among others, has pointed this out many times. In a TED talk Bittman suggests that cutting just one or two meals of meat a week could have a significant impact on global warming.
    The agricultural industry is the largest contributor to green house gases. Producing large quanitities of corn & soy for food animals releases enormous quantities of green house gases and farm mechines use lots of fossile fuels. The animals themselves produce lakes of methane-rich poop.
    Government agricultural policy has resulted in a signficant skewing of our diets, while government "information" about diet to support the policy and the agri-industry has skewed the discussion. See here for a recent look at this: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fresh-fruit-hold-the-insulin.

  8. What is with the poll option though, the only option for "no", amounts to, "I am an asshole that can't imagine it ever being healthy." I would rather there was an additional option there, like, "Like most personal choices in life, they should give the kids at least the oppertunity to make their own decisions about it.", but then, that would require the parents allow them to try something they don't eat themselves, and, Oh the horror if they decided they wanted to be different!
    Its possible, and sadly not uncommon, for parents to go a bit too far in restricting decisions. Just look at some of the bloody nuts on that "wife swap" show…

  9. Semi-OT: Am I allowed to froth about the sexism of "Today MOMS"?  Y'know, 'cause Dad has nuthin' ta do wit' da child-care stuff–that's wimmen's work.

    1. Froth away! And of *course* dads have nothing to do with the article because it's not only child care, it's cooking as well.

      1. I remember when my son was about a year old I would plop him in his high chair in the kitchen and do Julia Child impersonations while I was cooking dinner. I'm fairly confident I didn’t cause any permanent developmental damage.

  10. This may be a dumb question, but are there any feminist themes that AREN'T incompatible with the Catholic faith?
    On the vegan article….I'm skeptical of anything having to do with PETA.

  11. If you don't want to eat products derived from animals, fine with me.
    If you want your kids to not eat products derived from animals either, okay.
    But don't disallow them from dissenting if they want to be omnivorous, and don't try to convince them it's morally right or better than an omnivorous diet. Let them decide.
    Oh, and don't make your kids try to convert other peoples' kids. For that matter, don't try to convince other people to follow your lifestyle at all. Whether or not someone wants to eat meat shouldn't concern to you, unless you'd like the fact that you don't to concern them.
    And if you want to present objective facts regarding veganism, great. But the two examples in the article of "vegan facts" are.. well, not. McNuggets (the ones that these kids are likely referring to) haven't been made of mechanically separated meat since 2003, and on other brands of food, any MSM must be labeled anyways. As far as white vs. wheat bread, uh… both of those are vegan anyways. Except for that poor, innocent yeast anyways.
    Not to mention that (healthy) omnivorous people tend to want to avoid MSM and eat whole grains anyway. Kind of takes away veganism's credibility when they have to grasp for reasons to even be vegan.
    TL;DR: Be a vegan, whatever, just don't be a proselytizing dick about veganism.

    1. A picture of you is shown below:

      And to you I have to say: mind your own business dude.
      Parents teach their kids moral lessons daily.  Of course they can make up their own mind, no one can stop children from doing that.  However, you can't tell parents NOT to try and teach their kids moral beliefs, it's the core of parenting.  Butting into other people's parenting and telling them to not teach morals you don't personally like sounds to me like you're behing an, ahem "proselytizing dick".

      Whether or not someone wants to eat meat shouldn't concern to you

      And ethics about food other people teach their children shouldn't be a concern to you.

      But the two examples in the article of "vegan facts" are.. well, not

      Jeese, you're an angry bird.  Yes my friend, we here in the skeptic community are very well aware to not believe in bullshit facts.  Thank you for your amazing parental guidance.

  12. I liked that the interviewer on the tranvestites in the animal kingdom link pointed out that humans tend to consider themselves apart from nature, rather than a part of nature.  What I find odd is that this delusion persists even when we've shaken off ideologies like Christianity, which are built on the premise that we are "special", apart from nature. I guess humans just can't help but believe in their specialness.

  13. There needs to be a distinction between children and infants when talking about diet.  If you are unable to breastfeed, then it's close to impossible to give an infant a 100% vegan diet because as far as I'm aware there is no vegan infant formula on the market.  (I can't remember the exact nutrient, but there's some vitamin or protein in formula that can only be derived from milk, there isn't a synthetic source available. And if my info is out of date or incomplete, please correct me!  I'm an omnivore and my kids are both old enough to eat real food, so it's entirely possible I've missed something.)  
    But after the first year of life?  Once a child is getting their food from, well, food, it seems ridiculous to me that vegan parents wouldn't feed their kids a vegan diet.  If one parent is vegan and the other not, then that' couple should have a conversation and figure out a compromise, just as they would about any other child-rearing topic. 

  14. I laughed at “It could easily scare a young child into eating vegan". 
    I got "scared into vegetarianism" by watching people fishing on  a fishing boat and by going to a museum where they showed the insides of humans and the insides of animals. I guess they should keep that from children, too… 


  15. Wait.. MSMs? As in these: "It occurs naturally in some primitive plants, is present in small amounts in many foods and beverages, and is marketed as a dietary supplement." Or is this one of those, "Lets use an acronym that already has 14 other meanings.", situations?
    That said, this is one ***huge*** thing that bugs me about some "health" movement types. They don't always have a damn clue what they are talking about. There was an article a bit back in Skeptic, which talked about, for example, sugar, and its artificial alternatives. It basically layed out the real facts, which was that while many of them didn't have the calorie content of sugar, they, and sugar, and lots of other foods, broke down into certain compounds, in the blood stream, as part of the natural process of handling them by the body. In fact, one of the "biggest" ones the anti-artificial sweetner people babbled about was formaldahyde, which the body produces itself, in reaction to things you eat, and that a) a glass of tomatoe juice generates more in the blood stream that a can of soda, and b) its actually used in processing the latest, "all natural", sweetner, Stevia/Truvia, into a powdered form, so even if the body didn't produce it naturally anyway, its used ***to process*** this supposedly all natural, zero-calorie, sweetner. :head-desk:
    If people didn't make up facts, believe things posted on sites by complete nuts, or accept second, third, or evne fourth hand, information, some of which might have come from those nuts, I would be more in favor of the "natural food" movement. As it is, I consider it about as sane, unfortunately, as the homeopathy movement (as in the new one, where someone might claim its homeopathic, but have "detectable" traces of pathogens, toxins, carcinogens, etc., in it, along with small doses of "real" medicines. After all, the people that believe in it are just going to read the word "homeopathy", not the ingredients, since they don't have a damn clue how its supposed to actually work. Heck, yesterday I had my own work places pharmacist recommend, as an alternative, a fake pain product, which was homeopathic, instead of Iodex, because they don't provide the former (its iodine in petrolium gel, and does absorb through skin enough to reduce bruising a bit faster, by several days), and then he sort of brushed off my comment that I wanted the ingredients in my medicine to actually contain ingredients, with the statement, "Well, even if it doesn't have any, some people like it that way." Frak! He is bloody lucky I don't run the pharmacy, he would be looking for another job over that kind of stupid statement. (Well, maybe he would, there is no telling what Arizona law might protect him from being fired for the incompetence of not being able to tell medications apart of a box of dog turds…) But, its hardly any wonder, with people like that runing the pharmacies, and recommending garbage to people, that people will believe bloody any stupid thing that is repeated to them, including the lie that there is something horrifying different between the chemicals that equal and sugar both break down into, or that a naturally occuring, in plants, and suppliment, is dangerous, because its also added to other products and the people reading the label don't know what it is.

    1. Which is why it's tough for Skeptic vegans.  You go to a vegan's club, everyone's talking about new-age bullshit they've been convinced of, you go to an atheist/skeptic group and people give you shit for being vegan :).  It's a minor annoyance.
      Also in general, I'm so sick of people making up bullshit to support a food argument.  The key thing is "eat a balanced diet that's low in fat combine that with consistent exercise and you'll be healthy" no other made-up bullshit necessary.

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