Can a Child be Raised as a Raw Vegan?
By Don Bennett, DAS

I could make this a short and sweet article by answering that question with a "yes, duh!" because humans are designed to be raw vegans. Sure, there are people who maintain that humans should be eating animal products, but that's because basically, that's what they want to believe. And humans are very good at believing what they want to believe and not believing what they don't want to believe. But believing that adults can be raw vegans but children can't shows just how wrong humans are capable of being. Even some popular raw food educators spout this incorrect information as if it were fact, and the only thing good about them doing so is that it lets you know who the educators are who you should stay far away from. (If it sounds like I'm getting harsh, I am, and that's because this issue is not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact. But some raw food educators don't deal in facts, and these are the folks who should find another line of work quite frankly.)

I bring up this subject because there have been news stories spread around the raw food community about how parents who raised their children on a raw vegan diet harmed the children, even killed them with the diet, and theses parents went to jail or had their children taken away from them because of it. This just demonstrates how some parents can have both 100% correct information and 100% incorrect information at the same time (and it shows that government agencies don't necessarily know what they are doing when it comes to matters of health because they're relying on incorrect information).

The fact that there are children born who have been raised as raw vegans, and they are thriving just fine, means that there is more to the story, and unbalanced reporting doesn't help this issue.

Raising a child as a raw vegan can be a case of "a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing". Especially when that knowledge is incorrect, such as, "if we simply eat an all-raw fruit 'n greens diet, we needn't worry about nutrition" (a popular notion spread by some popular raw food educators… which just goes to show how popular information is not necessarily correct information).

Some of these kids who got very sick were found to have vitamin D deficiencies. Vitamin D does not come from food, so eating a raw vegan diet will not supply a growing child with sufficient vitamin D. And even if he/she is one of the more fortunate children who are out in strong enough sun a lot, vitamin D (like almost all nutrients) has certain "companion nutrients" that must be present in sufficient amounts so that the D can be made and utilized properly. Problematic vitamin D co-factor nutrients could be magnesium, zinc, and boron if the fruits and greens they are eating were grown in nutritionally sub-par soil (which is said to be impossible by some raw food educators, but this is also not true). And D is only one of a nunber of nutrients made by the sun shining on your child's skin. So if you give your child a D supplement, it won't contain any D sulfate or cholesterol sulfate, two vitally important nutrients, especially for vegans. And by-the-way, the vegan D supplements don't work as well as some people claim they do.

B12 is another issue, as it is another non-food-provided nutrient. But this is usually not an issue for kids as long as their diet is providing enough cobalt, and as long as they don't have a genetic defect that affects methylation, and as long as they're not experiencing undo amounts of emotional stress, and as long as their body's B12 making ability is not hampered by the consumption of garlic and other irritants (which some well-meaning raw foodist parents allow them to have). If this sounds to you like Raw Vegan 2.0, it is, because some raw food educators aren't teaching this vitally important information.

And then there are the scores of nutrients that are supposed to come from food in adequate amounts (via breast milk and solid baby/child food) but they do not (and notice, I didn't say "may not", I said "do not"). Say what you will about eating a mainstream diet full of nutritionally fortified foods, but when eating it, severe deficiencies – the kind that make headlines such as the headlines of those articles – don't happen (of course diets containing those foods are unhealthy in other ways).

I'm an advocate of the best of both worlds – eat a diet of the foods we're designed to eat, and fortify that diet of nutritionally sub-par foods with whatever it takes for it to supply us with enough of all the nutrients our bodies need to attain/maintain optimal health. But I have a hard time convincing raw food educators who teach about raising healthy raw food babies of the importance of, for example, iodine supplementation (pre-conception and post delivery). Why? Because of popular teachings that villainize the "S" word. Some people simply don't want to believe that we need supplements to be optimally healthy. But most of us do, so for Pete's sake, let's deal with it.

So to raise healthy children, feeding them the diet to which all humans are designed to eat, requires an acceptance of the fact that we are no longer living in our natural biological "eco-niche", and that the modern day fruits we buy will not supply enough of all the nutrients adults and especially growing children need (especially if we're feeding our kids temperate zone fruits which don't have the same amount of EFAs as the creamier tropical zone fruits).

Cappi Osborne, raised from birth on fruit

But if you want to be dogmatic about, and insist that it's impossible to healthfully raise a child as a raw vegan, this just means that you've chosen to not deal with reality, and since that's where we all live, this is not a sound approach to health in my opinion. And since a child (whether already born or to be conceived) is dependent on their parents for correct information, it behooves those who will be and are parents to research this issue, and to do so without any personal biases. In fact, if you want the best odds of distinguishing between the correct information and the misinformation (some of which comes from disinformation), using the ethos of science is very helpful: open questioning, no authorities, no biases or personal preferences, honesty, transparency, and reliance on evidence.

And when you see a child raised from birth as a raw food vegan (but done the correct way) understand that he is not "underweight" nor is he "too short". He is what is "normal" for a kid who doesn't consume animal growth hormones. If this concept is new to you, try this article on for size.

But if you want to talk about abnormal, let's look at women who are 5'8" and men who are 6 foot. This is way taller than we're meant to be, but no one bats an eye when they see people who are technically abnormally tall because they think that it's normal... it's the norm, it's just not normal. And since we're on the subject of what happens when humans consume hormones as part of their diet, we can't go without mentioning abnormally large breasts. And even though these are seen as wonderful by both men and women, since they are correlated with an increased risk of breast cancer, this is not something wonderful, is it? (And by-the-way, the medical industry acknowledges this correlation but stops short of saying why it is... they actually have the nerve to say "we simply don't know". They just can't come out and say that it's because of dietary hormones, as this would be bad for business for many powerful industries, including the medical and pharmaceutical industries. And how do I know they know this? Please, if I know, they surely know.)

So just as an adult can eat an unhealthy raw food diet of the foods we're designed to eat, so can children, but since children are still in the process of developing, a nutritionally inadequate diet will be noticed a lot sooner, and will take more of a toll on them. And instead of placing blame on the parents of kids damaged by a nutritionally inadequate diet and lifestyle, why not put the blame where it belongs – on the raw food educators who can't seem to care enough about those they educate, counsel, and advise so that they'll take the time and spend the effort necessary to seek the truth about what constitutes a healthy human diet in the 21st Century. Since reality is something which, if you don't believe it, doesn't go away, isn't it better to embrace it? And according to reality, all humans – kids included – are designed to eat an all-raw vegan diet… but a nutritionally adequate one, which is not a given when eating from an agri-based food industry.


Don Bennett is an insightful, reality-based author, and health creation counselor who uses the tools in his toolbox like logic, common sense, critical thinking, and independent thought to figure out how to live so you can be optimally healthy. More about Don's latest book, which is all about misinformation, at http://health101.org/books

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