Friday, December 19, 2008

Food For Thought

I just recently came across an article which raises a rather controversial issue related to child care and safety...

A 12 year old girl in Scotland was hospitalized due to a degenerative bone condition, leaving her spine to be like that of an 80 year old woman's. The report, which can be read at Times Online stresses that the condition was caused by the lack of Vitamin D, typically obtained by consuming liver, oily fish and dairy products. The girl was also found to have contracted a severe form of rickets and a number of fractured bones, possibly caused by the strict Vegan diet had been imposed her by her parents, who were also Vegan.

A Vegan Diet or Veganism, as defined by Wikipedia, is a diet and lifestyle that seeks to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Now I am not a Vegan but I am also not intolerant of other people's beliefs and practices. In fact, I don't like eating meat all that much (but I am just a sucker for seafood). I also love vegetables and I really would encourage everyone to eat more of it. What I am though, is a firm subscriber to the idea of balance.

What do I mean by this? There are two important points which occurred to me here, which ultimately leads to one word.


First off, lets discuss the obvious. If we take the news at face value, it is quite apparent that diet played a huge factor in what happened. Lets say the parents argue that it was not the diet that debilitated their child. While it is true that Vitamin D is mostly found in animal based foods, it is also said that some mushrooms provide vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) in variable amounts. Sun exposure also helps, Ultraviolet (UV) B radiation with a wavelength of 290-315 nanometers penetrates uncovered skin and converts cutaneous 7-dehydrocholesterol to previtamin D3, which in turn becomes vitamin D3. These are facts that can be found on the webpage of National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, which I'm pretty sure is accurate.

The website also says...

"Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis."

Given these premises, it can easily be concluded that the girl perhaps did have Vitamin D deficiency. However, Vegan or not, her parents should have seen to it that she got a balanced diet and that her nutritional requirements were being met. There is just no excuse for not doing so.

Second point. This is pretty straightforward and will sting a lot of parents who gets to read this. I am not a parent, but please correct me if I'm wrong when I say...

A good parent should know when to say "yes" and when to say "no" to a child.

Individually, to be successful in life, we need to know when to say "yes" and when to say "no", am I not correct? When a business proposal sounds good, what do you say? If a friend tells you to do a bad thing for him, what would you say? If your kid asks you for a candy before eating lunch? What about after? It's all about making the right decisions at the right time... right?

Of course nobody is perfect, but we should always strive for it. If we can't have it, we should at least be able to have a high rate of successes in decision-making. Aim for the mountains and you'll hit the trees. Aim for the stars and you'll hit the mountains. I think that's how the saying goes.

Parents should double or even triple the effort in attempting to make the best possible choice. Why? Because parents choose to have a child, they should be aware that their child's life relies on how well their decision making is. The choice and consequences of bringing a child into the world is theirs and theirs alone.

Like naming a child. A child has not one iota of power to decide what he is named at birth. The choice always belongs to the parents. Take for example an interesting case where a couple decided to name one of their child, of all the names...

Adolf Hitler!

Poor kid. Read the rest of the story here.

Similarly, do you think the 12 year old girl that I had mentioned earlier had a choice, lifestyle-wise? Highly unlikely, I think.

Which brings me to the word Deprivation. She was most certainly deprived and denied a choice from the start. Whether a Vegan diet or lifestyle is beneficial of not, she really wouldn't know because it was already imposed on her from the beginning. The people responsible for giving her love and care obviously made a wrong choice at the wrong time. And so we see its disastrous repercussions.

So what do you think?


Beginning the this post earlier, I was planning to write an informative article about diet but I guess I got carried away again. Anyhow, going back to the subject of balance, here is a link where you can find a good deal about the Food Pyramid. Again, I'm not in a position to say the Vegan Diet is wrong, but I personally would recommend following a diet scheme similar to what you'll find here.

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