Kids need meat

Meat enables small children to develop physically and mentally, says a researcher who studies poor children in Africa.

Strict vegetarians who insist their children live by the same principles were criticised today by a leading nutrition expert.

Denying growing children animal products in their diet during the critical first few years of life was “unethical” and could do permanent damage, said Professor Lindsay Allen, from the University of California at Davis.

Allen says her resarch applies to children in developed countries too.

Studies of vegetarians in both the United States and Europe had shown that missing out on meat and dairy products can permanently impair a child’s development.

Researchers in Holland found that by the time children were 16 years old it was too late to help them by re-introducing meat and milk into their diets. They remained impaired.

Years ago, I heard of a father who claimed his young children were thriving on his ultra-vegan diet. He didn’t know his wife was taking them to McDonald’s for burgers while he was at work.

About Joanne


  1. Simplifying things a little: Proteins and protein building blocks, like taurine, that are only found in meat are essential for proper brain development. Sure, as humans we can make most of them, but babies and young children use these molecules faster than they can make them. If mom eats meat, they get can get them in breast milk, and most baby formulas and cereals are fortified with these proteins and amino acids, but once a child is weaned from breast milk or starts eating solid food, that supply is gone, although critical brain development continues. The human brain isn’t finished developing until well into the twenties, so a lack of building blocks throughout childhood can be devastating.

    There was a wonderful series of studies in cats (which must eat meat since they lack the enzymes to make these molecules) that showed a pure vegetarian diet led to social/behavioral abnormalities, blindness, and some neuromuscular disabilities in kittens who ate the vegetarian diet and who were born to moms eating only the vegetarian diet.

    Sorry for the length of the post. I study brain development, and this is one of my “soapboxes”.

  2. Fortunately, we are not cats and taurine is produced naturally by the human body from other amino acids.

    For what its worth, past studies show a positive relationship with vegetarianism and IQ among children. When family income, parent education, etc. is controlled for, there is usually no signficant difference in IQ among children raised as vegetarians and others.

  3. Unless those studies also controlled for mom slipping out at lunch to get a couple of Quarter Pounders for the kids they may not be worth much šŸ™‚

  4. You know, I don’t know of any study that asks about that particular practice… šŸ™‚

  5. Walter E. Wallis says:

    We need to bring back the ducking stool.

  6. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a baby–I flat-out refused to eat meat or fish. I also refused to eat cheese. My parents thought it better not to force me, and although my pediatrician always tried to bargain with me to eat tuna fish, he didn’t seem too concerned about my eating habits. From my earliest memories until now, I’ve eaten meat about six times. Growing up I had peanut butter for lunch every day, and chocolate milk once or twice a day. I’m perfectly normal, thank you very much.

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Does your mommy know you are flogging her blog?

  8. My daughter Allison considered vegetarianism for about five seconds, when she discovered that barbecued chicken was made from chicken. She rejected it. The commenter is a different Allison.

  9. Moebius Stripper says:

    And the conclusion is that MCDONALD’S food was making the kids healthier?

    I grew up eating meat and drinking milk, and stopped the former when I was 12, and the latter when I was 20. As a kid, I was in and out of hospitals several times a year with infections of various types – mostly ear infections. When I gave up meat, I went from having 3-4 ear infections a year to having one every other year or so. I haven’t had any since I gave up milk, and my asthma has all but disappeared, something that has been documented in studies in the medical literature. (The benefits of a vegan diet supplemented by McDonald’s food, however, is not.)

  10. I’ve eaten meat and animal products all my life, without these health problems.

    Whether or not children should be raised on a vegetarian or vegan diet should only be dependent on whether or not they can get all the nutrients they need to grow and develop. If that can be done, I have no problem with someone else’s diet.