Raising a Vegetarian Family
As parents, we do everything we can to raise happy, healthy children. We immunize them against diseases, fret over their runny noses, and consider it to be a national emergency when they have a fever. Unfortunately, many parents don’t know that they are risking their children’s health by feeding them drug-laden, meat-based diets instead of cholesterol-free vegetarian diets.
Feeding meat to your children is likely to adversely affect their health in both the short and the long term. Meat is packed with hormones, dioxins, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and other contaminants. Some of the drugs that are commonly found in chicken flesh are even arsenic-based. These chemicals are ingested by the animals who are exploited on factory farms and then accumulate in their flesh and fat.
Herbicides and pesticides are also dumped on the crops that are fed to animals on factory farms. This means that these poisons are concentrated in the meat at a level that is up to 14 times higher than what is typically found in vegetables. Furthermore, since these toxins are in the animals’ flesh, it’s impossible to wash them away.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the consumption of meat causes 70 percent of the food poisoning cases in the U.S. each year. This is not surprising when you consider that meat can be contaminated with a host of dangerous bacteria—including E. coli, salmonella, and campylobacter. Sadly, adults aren’t the only ones who feel the ill-health effects of this contaminated food. Recent outbreaks of E. coli have shown that these pathogens can be deadly when consumed by children.
The late Benjamin Spock, M.D., author of the landmark parenting guide Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, wrote, “Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats have a tremendous health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.”
Indeed, the saturated fat and the relative lack of fiber in a flesh-based diet can make your child overweight and lethargic in the short term and can contribute to the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer in the long term.
In contrast, a healthy vegetarian diet gives children all the protein, calcium, fiber, and vitamins that they need to be strong and healthy. Vegetarian kids are free from the cholesterol and chemical toxins that are found in fish, chicken, pork, and other meat.