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 arena about how parents who raised their children on a raw vegan diet harmed the children, even killed them with the diet, and these parents went to jail or had their children taken away from them because of it. Well, 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 most of the time).
The fact that there are children born who are raised as raw vegans, and they thrive 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/utilized properly. Problematic vitamin D co-factor nutrients could be magnesium, zinc and boron if the fruits and greens they were 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).
B12 is another issue, as it is another non-food-provided nutrient (but this is usually not an issue for kids as long as they are not fed garlic and other irritants, which some well-meaning raw foodist parents do, however).
And then there are the scores of food-provided nutrients that are supposed to come from food in adequate amounts (via breast milk and solid baby/child food) but don’t (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 subpar 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 deal with it.
So to raise healthy children, feeding them the diet all humans are designed to eat requires an acceptance of the fact that we are no longer living in our 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. But if you want to be dogmatic about, and insist that it’s impossible to healthfully raise a child as a raw vegan, that just means that you’ve chosen not to 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 is dependent on their parents for correct information, it behooves those who are parents to research this issue, and to do so without any personal biases.
And when you see a child raised from birth as a raw food vegan (but done the right way), know 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. You want to talk about abnormal? Let’s look at women who are 5 feet, 8 inches 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. 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. But these are actually seen as wonderful by both men and women. But 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 reports 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 dietary hormones, as this would be bad for business for many powerful industries, including Organized Medicine itself. And how do I know they know? 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, teach, counsel and advise so that they 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 that, 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, on Health101.org/books.