The issue of vegan diets has taken over the media and is currently perceived as one of the major questions that are not answered yet. Numerous researchers attempted to approach the issue by conducting surveys and experiments (Kluger, 2014). Some of these studies were able to elucidate the fact that food preferences mostly rely on an individual’s cultural and psychological features (McCracken, 2016). In other words, the smarter we believe an animal is, the more defenseless it is. For instance, beef eaters tend to accept as true the fact that cows are relatively unwise and cannot think (Kluger, 2014). If we expand on this topic, we will see that those who eat only fish do not consider livestock to be the smartest representatives of fauna.
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Psychologists believe that such an approach is rather effective even in post facto terms. It is safe to say that humans believe in justifying the food that they had consumed earlier. Therefore, humans treat similar representatives of fauna in almost the same way because of their “reputation,” charisma, or unreservedness (Kluger, 2014). This means that a hamburger is a conventional meal but horseburger shall not exist because humans are not savages. Such principled expedience can also be applied when we have to decide if we either want a shark or a dolphin soup (implying that dolphins are helpless and nice to humans, so there is no point to kill them and turn them into a meal ingredient) (Kluger, 2014).
Regardless of the duality of this principled expedience, this seems to be the only way to deal with the ambiguity of our existence. Humans should not pretend that it is good or bad to be a vegetarian as there are upsides and downsides to that decision. Yet, one should realize that a vegetarian’s “truth” does not differ from the outlooks of carnivores or pescetarians simply because they chose their path and followed it successfully over the years. The thing is, exposing animals to cruelty and suffering is a bad thing, but “the truth” is a multi-faceted concept, and we should somehow put up with it.
Nutritional Needs of a Child and an Italian Law
The first reason why a vegan diet should not be imposed on children is that every parent should pay close attention to the needs of their toddlers. Especially, these needs should become a priority when it comes to nutrition (McCracken, 2016). Nowadays, there is so much information regarding this issue that it may be easy to get confused and make wrong decisions. Nonetheless, every parent should remember that the dietary habits of their children depend on their nutritional patterns during their early years. Therefore, it is critical to understand that a healthy affiliation with food should be developed from early childhood (McCracken, 2016). In this case, the impact of vegan parents should be perceived as negative.
The second reason why a vegan diet should not be imposed on children is that the diet should be healthy, so it is reasonable to include products other than vegetables as well. It may happen that the meals created by vegan parents will be rejected by their children for some unknown reason (McCracken, 2016). This should be a perfect sign of the fact that the child does not want to get into that routine and that his or her dietary requirements should be approached conventionally (for instance, by adding meat or protein-containing meals and products to the diet).
The third reason why a vegan diet should not be imposed on children is that they do not allow their children to make an informed choice when they grow older. Instead, they impose their outlooks on their toddlers, and it has negative consequences for all the parties in a long-term perspective (Hunt, 2016). This is why new legislation was proposed in Italy. It suggests that parents that impose a vegan diet on their toddlers should be prosecuted (the basic sentence is one year in prison plus a bigger sentence (three to four years) if the child is not even three years old). These penalties should be applied only if children were exposed to the dangers of malnutrition or were injured by the dietary habits of their parents (Hunt, 2016). Even though some governmental representatives believe that excessive amounts of fat and sugar are way more dangerous than a vegan diet, the risks of the latter should not be underestimated. The decision to implement penalties for vegan parents was made due to an increased occurrence of high-profile cases connected to malnutrition (Palazzo, 2016). Moreover, these cases highlighted the issue of wrongfully developed vegan diets and the importance of healthy food.
Why Veganism May Be the Answer?
One of the points of view that intend to safeguard the beliefs regarding the vegan diet is the opinion that we do not truly realize the importance of the fauna to the environment (Monbiot, 2016). Therefore, we disregard several pivotal ethical problems because we switched from hunting to breeding animals. The adepts of the vegan lifestyle believe that free-range farming is also a negative aspect of those individuals who eat meat (Monbiot, 2016). The key idea is that the world is currently suffering from extensive farming but criticizing this aspect of life will not help to solve the problem. According to vegans, meat-eating individuals are relatively influenced by the image of masculinity. Others conventionally prefer the supposition that the individuals who gave up animal products might threaten those who did not (Monbiot, 2016). The vegan community believes that the legislation proposed by an Italian politician is unfair and limits them in terms of their view of the world (even because an insufficient amount of proteins may leave their children malnourished).
In this case, we should draw a thick line between the definition of extensive farming and the vegan lifestyle simply because these two do not support each other. Of course, vegetables are healthy, but there is a huge difference between a balanced all-around diet and a diet where natural proteins contained in meat have to be replaced by other less notable sources such as eggs and nuts. It is rather hard to imagine that the products mentioned above can be a worthy replacement for a big and juicy piece of meat. The problem gets even bigger when we look at it from the perspective of a child. Toddlers have to grow continually, and proteins that are contained in meat are a kind of a trigger that is intended to spark the growth of their young bodies (Palazzo, 2016). Imposing a vegetarian diet on children means influencing their health and well-being in general. Parents should be responsible for the dietary patterns of their children, but they should not have the right to impose their nutrition preferences on toddlers.
Is a Vegan Diet Healthy for Children?
Numerous lively battles occur between carnivores and vegetarians when it comes to the discussion of a healthy diet that suits the opinion of the majority. This happens because vegan parents think that they help their child and promote his or her health by imposing their vegan on the child (Lewin, 2016). This type of child welfare in disguise is perceived by meat-eaters as a limitation of the child’s rights as it is unhealthy and dangerous. The concept of disciplining parents is not new for both meat-eating and vegetarian families. The most interesting fact is that the opposing camps recurrently criticize each other for unhealthy diets and irresponsible parenting. Vegan parents believe that a “green” diet is the answer to all questions regarding their children’s health and there is nothing wrong about it (Lewin, 2016). Despite the criticism, some vegan parents know how to deal with their diet correctly and what to do if they want their children to develop normally.
The majority of vegan parents still do not pay attention to the dietary needs of their children and simply impose their dietary patterns on their toddlers. It is obvious that eating healthy and being a vegetarian is not easy to combine. When parents deal with growing children, they have to take into account the complexity of their nutritional needs and adjust the dietary pattern in a respective manner (Lewin, 2016). Moreover, millions of people all over the world proved that being a vegetarian and a parent of a vegan child at the same time is possible. They were able to pay attention to detail and develop a peculiar plant-based diet. The most vital aspect of these diets is the amino acid profile. Numerous research studies conducted in the area proved that parents have to combine several products to develop a perfect menu for their children (Lewin, 2016). This diet includes all nine amino acids that are required for the development of the human organism. Therefore, nutrition experts propose a dietary model based on the combinations of plant-based foods (for instance, pita-hummus and rice-beans).
Despite the described benefits of the vegan lifestyle, numerous obstacles might stop an individual from changing their diet to a plant-based nutrition plan. The first and foremost reason is the fact that parents have no right to interfere with the needs of their children. This seems like an authoritarian and relatively doubtful approach to parenting. Even though these parents think that their diet benefits their children, this nutritional plan will most probably harm their toddlers simply because little humans are not yet aware of what they need. Consequently, the responsibility lies on the shoulders of that child’s parents and if they choose a plant-based diet, the toddler will become restrained. Eating healthy should not necessarily be equal to eating vegetables or other products of animal origin. Imposing your dietary pattern on a child is negligent and unethical in case if we consider parenting a profession, and if you can stop it only by applying legal penalties, then let it be so.
Kluger, J. (2014). Eat animals: Enough with the guilt. Time. Web.
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Lewin, J. (2016). Healthy eating: What young children need. BBC GoodFood. Web.
Monbiot, G. (2016). I’ve converted to veganism to reduce my impact on the living world. The Guardian. Web.
Hunt, E. (2016). Parents who feed children vegan diet face prosecution under proposed Italian law. The Guardian. Web.
Palazzo, C. (2016). Parents forcing vegan diet on their children face prison time under proposed Italian law. The Telegraph. Web.
McCracken, M. (2016). Is a vegan diet healthy for kids? EcoWatch. Web.