Importance of animal products in childhood? Help me convince a vegetarian
First let me apologize, if this topic has already been discussed and everyone knows this stuff. I am posting my question, because I am really not that well informed or well-read, but over the past months (since going primal) I have realized how important nutrition is for every aspect of our lives and especially our health. And it must be even more important for children, as their body is growing and developing. So please, help me convince a vegetarian mom that her 6-month old needs meat and animal products (I don't know if she's vegan or just vegetarian, so I don't know if she eats dairy and/or eggs). From the pictures she posts I see she feeds her baby mostly vegetables and fruit (bread and legumes too, I suppose). Veggies and fruit are fine, but as for meat, the kid hasn't been having any and I think she is hurting him She says she wants to raise him as a vegetarian and let him choose for himself, when he grows up.
So my question: In what ways can a vegetarian diet harm a child's growth? I know the child wouldn't be getting all essential aminoacids, so that's one thing. What about animal fats? They are good for his brain, but can he, for example, do just as well on, say, olive oil? I don't think so, but I lack the information and the arguments to prove it.
I can't give any real evidence for not raising a child vegan/vegetarian even though I don't believe it should be done. However, I went to school with a brother and sister who were raised vegetarian. The little boy completely lost all of his hair around age 5 and it never grew back, and the girl had very yellow skin. They also both were normal size, except they both had big bellies. From what I saw them eat it was very healthy vegetarian, not really any fake foods, but they seriously looked ill. Those were the only vegetarians I knew as children so it always freaks me out when people want to raise their kids with no meat, even though I know there are lots of people who were raised that way and seem perfectly fine.
The kid will be fine and can make their own decision when they're old enough. Plenty of kids have been raised vegetarian/vegan with no ill effects.
My suggestion here would be to leave this one alone and respect the mother's choice for how to raise the child. Really. It's not something you should involve yourself in.
The human body is remarkable, and if the kid grows up and decides to eat differently, the body will adapt.
Meanwhile, let the mom do what she feels is right and don't push your views on her. It's not your place to do so. The kid will be just fine.
I suppose you guys are right, after all everyone makes choices about their own lives and parents are the ones who make the choices for their children. I'm certainly in no position to advise the mother how to raise her child... I just felt sorry for the little boy, that's all. I hope he turns out fine. I am sure she would include meat in her diet, if she saw vegetarianism was hurting him. Thanks for you comments!
He'll turn out a lot better than someone who was raised on fast food and tons of junk food. My experience is that someone who's vegetarian is already more concerned with health than someone who just eats whatever crap is available in the supermarket.
So, maybe give the mom a pat on the back for doing what she thinks is best, and then it might open the door to her being more interested in how you eat and why. :-)
I know you are concerned, but let me tell you my personal experience...
I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for 8 years. During this time, I married and had two daughters. I had completely healthy pregnancies and completely healthy babies. My husband was never vegetarian, but didn't care what was for dinner as long as he was full and it was tasty, so no trouble from him. He even supported me by checking menus ahead of time when we went out, and I had never asked him to do that. (Really cool guy - that's why I married him...)
My first daughter was what I call a "natural" vegetarian. She truly had no interest at all in meat, even though she had tons of exposure to it through big family dinners and the holidays and I never forbade it (Papa was still eating it, after all). I never tried to raise my kids specifically "vegetarian", but I WAS obsessed with getting the healthiest, cleanest food I could find and keeping the crap the hell out of the house and out of their mouths.
During the pregnancy with my third daughter, all I craved was kielbasa and braunschweiger. So I ate it. I was raised meat-and-potatoes as a kid, and knew this wouldn't kill me, and I had faith in my body to tell me what to do. Not too long after I delivered the third, I kind of drifted away from the veg thing, and first daughter discovered the glories of bacon...
It is DEFINITELY possible to have healthy babies on a vegetarian diet. You didn't say vegan, so the dairy and eggs will help a lot.
PLEASE, for the sake of your friendship with this lady, focus on enjoying each other's company instead. Swap vegetable recipes - something you CAN agree on - until you both drop. Go shopping for the very best olive oil you can find, coconut oil, butter, etc. Vegetarians have very, very good veggie recipes and you really should be peeking into her kitchen to see what is up in that department.
If you want to convince her that Primal is good, work on yourself so YOU become SO hot that she can't escape the benefits of it. THAT speaks louder than any debate!!!
I wouldn't try to say anything. Most 6 month olds aren't eating meat anyway, so that isn't that strange. I don't think either of my kids were introduced to meat unitl 9-10 months and didn't really start eating them until 18 months because they simply didn't like them. As long as the child is getting enough iron and other nutrients, it doesn't matter.
Oh, he's not 6 months old, he's like 1.5 years old now, I got his age wrong
Yes, the mother is a great cook, I'll give her that. And really very concerned with her baby's best.
Thank you for your comments and ideas, guys!