Wednesday, February 23


The USDA solidified their role as apologists and promoters of the dying meat industry with a wild claim that "There's absolutely no question that it's unethical for parents to bring up their children as strict vegans," backed up by the nonsense that "Animal source foods have some nutrients not found anywhere else." Well, sorry, but a) there sure as hell is a question as to your wacko claim, and b) no, animal source foods have ZERO "nutrients not found anywhere else." Yet these charges are reprinted without challenge or even cursory examination by so-called journalists.

What's Lindsay Allen's basis for these definitive statements? It would be laughable if the situation weren't so tragic for the subjects and ominous for the notion of truth in our culture: Rather than study the first-world vegans she's supposedly talking about, in controlled, quantified experiments against first-world meat-eaters, Allen bases the hyperbole on a meat-industry-funded "study" in Kenya whose conclusion was obvious before it was already done: Malnourished children living on nothing but corn and beans saw their health improve when their diet was diversified with the addition of meat and milk. What a shocker, eh? Note that there was no comparison with malnourished children whose diets were diversified with the addition of, say, greens, or even multiple types of beans. In other words, nothing even approaching an actual vegan diet that first-world parents feed their children; nothing that could possibly back up such a far-reaching claim.

The BBC, which before its smackdown over the Blair-Iraq situation was a pretty credible news outlet, is one of the worst offenders here, not only leaving the central claims unexamined but adding a forum parroting the USDA's framing, "Are vegan diets harmful for children?" rather than, say, "Can you believe anything uttered by these paragons of deception, collusion and incompetence?" The Scotsman is a little better, leaning on the scotsman Paul McCartney, who concisely observes that "These [studies] are engineered by livestock people who have seen sales fall off." But like other outlets, they headline the article with Allen's BS statement, and allow her to lie about the funding, something that's easily checked just by looking at the abstract. (Check for the phrase "National Cattlemen's Beef Association") It's a shameful day for journalism and for truth, which means it's a great day for the USDA and their corporate puppet masters.

UPDATE 2/28: It's interesting that the USDA believes that theoretical harm to infants from a lack of meat-eating, based on one study of third-world kids, is worth making international headlines over, while actual documented harm being done to hundreds of thousands of U.S. children from meat-eating merits no mention whatsoever (and of course, this is only one source of major harm out of many, as we document here every day): "Lower IQ levels linked to mercury exposure in the womb costs the United States $8.7 billion a year in lost earnings potential, according to a study released Monday by researchers at a New York hospital. The Mount Sinai Center for Children's Health and the Environment combined a number of previous studies to determine hundreds of thousands of babies are born every year with lower IQ (search) associated with mercury exposure." The article goes on to note that the EPA estimates that "about 8 percent of American women of childbearing age have enough mercury in their blood to put a fetus at risk." Even low-balling that population estimate at 100 million women, that's 8 million women in this country putting their unborn children at risk for permanent damage by their consumption of fish. You'd think that might merit some mention, but... huh. Nope.

UPDATE 3/1: Commentators both inside the vegetarian movement and elsewhere are beginning to question the bizarre logic behind Allen's screed. Notably, in The Scotsman (again! - is it really the Paul McCartney connection?), Dr. Mark Porter uses his "Medical Notes" column to blast the whole escapade: "At first glance, Allen’s findings do seem worrying, but scratch the surface and her conclusions appear to be built on shaky foundations. Her research was carried out on 544 African schoolchildren whose vegan diets consisted of little more than starchy maize and bean-based foods - a much poorer quality diet than one would expect to find among even the strictest vegans in the UK. Her findings fly in the face of existing research that suggests vegetarian children brought up on a carefully balanced diet often grow faster than those who eat meat."

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