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'Hostile' doctors and teachers discriminate against vegetarian children, say parents<br><br>
By Jonathan Thompson<br><br>
02 March 2003<br><br><br><br><br><br>
Vegetarian parents are protesting against the discrimination they and their children are forced to face in everyday life.<br><br><br><br>
A new report, to be published this week, claims that nearly half of all parents raising their children on a meat-free diet have experienced "hostility" over the decision from doctors, health visitors, teachers or relatives.<br><br><br><br>
The findings released by the leading animal rights group Animal Aid are based on a survey of 800 vegetarian parents across the country.<br><br><br><br>
The study found that 47 per cent of those questioned complained about "negative pressure" over their child's diet despite the fact that the group claim there is little or no medical evidence to support such concern.<br><br><br><br>
Relatives were the largest group opposed to child vegetarianism, with 54 per cent of respondents citing them as a problem. One in five reported a similar attitude from their GP, with a similar amount pointing the finger at health visitors.<br><br><br><br>
Animal Aid's campaigns officer, Becky Lilly, described the results as "surprising".<br><br><br><br>
"The finding that shocked us most was the amount of pressure coming from close relatives no doubt well-meaning, but ill-informed," said Ms Lilly. "This is despite bodies such as the British Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association confirming that a well-balanced vegetarian, indeed vegan, diet is exceptionally healthy.<br><br><br><br>
"It is frustrating that, in this day and age, such prejudice is still widespread."<br><br><br><br>
The charity has now called on the BMA and the Department of Health to issue guidelines to all health practitioners enabling them to "provide their patients with sound advice on vegetarian diets".<br><br><br><br>
Animal Aid's views were supported by the Vegetarian Society. "A varied and balanced vegetarian diet is a healthy lifestyle choice for children and adults of all ages," said spokeswoman Kerry Bennett. "Most vegetarians find it easy to meet the Government's recommended balance of good health."<br><br><br><br>
Despite these claims, leading nutritionists yesterday warned parents to be careful when considering vegetarianism as an option for children.<br><br><br><br>
"If a vegetarian diet is well thought-out and balanced, it shouldn't be any better or worse than a normal diet," said Brigid McKevith, a scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation. "However, there have been some cases of children on restrictive diets not thriving or growing properly.<br><br><br><br>
"A vegetarian diet that keeps adults in good health is not necessarily appropriate for infants and young children. This is a time of rapid growth and development when a good supply of energy and nutrients is particularly important. Diets that are low in energy and fat and high in bulk may pose a nutritional risk for children."<br><br><br><br>
Other critics of vegetarianism were more outspoken. The television chef Anthony Worrall-Thompson described introducing children to a meat-free diet as "dangerous".<br><br><br><br>
"On medical grounds it can't be very good," said Mr Worrall-Thompson, who owns the Notting Grill, a meat restaurant in West London. "It also strikes me as dangerous to start relying on supplements at a young age.<br><br><br><br>
"Children are growing, and protein is important for that. They'll be missing out on things they need vitamins they can't get from soya or the fungus that grows on pipes or whatever they eat."<br><br><br><br>
'He's only six, but he handles it well'<br><br><br><br>
Seamus Brough couldn't understand why he was told off by his teacher on a school trip to Asda.<br><br><br><br>
The six-year-old vegan from Wolverhampton was walking past the deli counter when he pointed to a chicken roasting on a spit and explained to his classmates that it was a dead animal.<br><br><br><br>
"Some of the kids started crying and Seamus was<br><br>
told off by the teacher for upsetting them," explained his mother, Mary Brady.<br><br>
"He couldn't understand why he had got into trouble just for telling the truth."<br><br><br><br>
Later on the trip, says Ms Brady, Seamus was told "not to be rude" after asking if the doughnut he had been offered was suitable for vegans.<br><br><br><br>
"A lot of people misunderstand veganism, often those in professional positions who should know better," says Ms Brady, 31. "Seamus<br><br>
is only six but he handles it well. If somebody asks him why he doesn't have eggs, he tells them he doesn't want to eat something that has come out of a chicken's bottom."<br><br><br><br>
According to Ms Brady, bringing up Seamus on a vegan diet caused problems from the start.<br><br><br><br>
"When Seamus was 18 months old, a health visitor came round," says Ms Brady. "She kept commenting on how intelligent and well developed he was, until I mentioned that he was vegan. After that, her<br><br>
attitude changed completely.<br><br>
She started saying that he looked clumsy in his movements, and that his mental functioning could<br><br>
be impaired in later life by his diet. "I was so frustrated that a health visitor could be that ignorant."<br><br><br><br>
Jonathan Thompson
 

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Many people will discriminate against, or for, another person, based on <b>anything</b> they can find about that person, real or imagined, that they can use as a basis for discrimination -- anything about them, real or imagined, that is different, perhaps, than some other person. No matter who you are or what you do, someone will find something about you to discriminate against. So I am not at all surprised that discrimnation occurs in re to vegetarianism.
 

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You guys need to get a doctor who is of Indian descent. Preferably a Gujarati or a South Indian doctor. There are plenty of these doctors out there.<br><br><br><br>
They certainly won't discriminate against vegetarians because, as Indians, they must know at least one person within their circle of family and friends who is a vegetarian. Many of the doctors are vegs themselves. You'll never go wrong with them.
 

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What bothers me about the report is they lump everybody together (teachers, parents, etc.) to get the "half".<br><br><br><br>
Anyone who had kids (especially moms) can tell you that relatives, and even strangers all have something to critique. (even when you are still pregnant, people feel free to give child rearing advice!) And vegetarianism is no doubt an easy target. I am more interested in the specific figure for just physicians.
 

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I have told about 10 doctors that I am vegetarian, and I have never had a problem with discrimination. I've told them my son was veg too. They never indicated any concern about the consequences at all. I think most doctors are not a problem. Only a few are. They will tend to be a problem tho, if you tell them you don't want "animal-origin" medicines, including immunizing agents. They don't usually "discriminate" but they try may try to use deceptive methods to get you to acquiesce to treatment -- tho I've found with elective treatments, such as tetanus immunizations after a cut, if I simply remind them that I did not get any feces or agricultural (feces impregnated) soil in my cut, I am unlikely have acquired tetanus-causing micro-organims, and they will say, "well to be on the safe side you should have it, but yes, you probably will be alright without it."
 

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Our first pediatrician had no problem with our children being vegetarian...but she would say things like, "So long as they are eating plenty of yogurt and other dairy products, they should do just fine."<br><br>
I told her that I planned to phase dairy out, and she did not like that at all. But then we ended up moving and I ended up not phasing it out completely for the children anyway.<br><br>
Most teachers have been fine about it, but we have had a few that have been very hostile.<br><br>
As a reward to the "good" students, the teacher was going to give them a pizza party. My son, 10, came home sadly, saying that she was only going to buy pepperoni pizzas. This teacher had always told me what a wonderful student my son was etc., so I thought that she would want to know that he was feeling left-out of something that he had "earned"<br><br>
I had an up beat attitude, but she immediatly got hostile. She refused to buy a cheese pizza. She said that my son could simply pick off the pepperoni. (I even offered to pay for it)<br><br>
The phone conversation went from bad to worse. We met with the principal the next morning and suprisingly he took our side and paid for a cheese pizza with school money. I know that our son never felt as comfortable in class after this incident.<br><br>
When the principal asked the teacher how she was going to handle this situation in the future, she said that she would no longer have parties for the top students, because "it just causes trouble for me!"
 

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"When the principal asked the teacher how she was going to handle this situation in the future, she said that she would no longer have parties for the top students, because "it just causes trouble for me!"<br><br>
-------------------What a B-tch.
 

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Mushroom writes:<br><br>
===============<br><br>
This teacher had always told me what a wonderful student my son was etc., so I thought that she would want to know that he was feeling left-out of something that he had "earned"<br><br>
I had an up beat attitude, but she immediatly got hostile.<br><br>
=======================<br><br><br><br>
Now that you brought up the subject, I feel now is the time to tell you that in my opinion it was inconsiderate of you to tell the teacher that your son felt left-out. An upbeat attitude is not sufficient compensation for an inconsiderate remark. It may or may not have been inconsiderate of the teacher not to ask each child what they would like to eat. It is irreleveant. It was l inconsiderate to tell someone who invites you or you son to a party, that you don't like they way they are running their party. Your options are to go allow your son to go to the party and allow him to choose not to eat the pizza, or eat the pizza, as he wishes, or to allow him to avoid the party, or even, if he is below the age of 11 or so, to forbid him to go to the party, whichever you and your son decide.
 

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I don't think the school should be paying for a pizza, any kind of pizza, for some students, but not others, with school money. This is a wrong use of taxpayer money.
 

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I think it is wrong of a teacher to use school money to treat ALMOST ALL the students, but leave out ONE child in a glaring omission.<br><br><br><br>
ESPECIALLY when said event is one the child cannot possibly avoid. Even if he chooses not to go, he will be unfairly stigmatised by the others for missing out.<br><br><br><br>
That considered: she'd never have chosen to make peanut butter cookies as THE treat if there were an anaphalactic child in the class. So why specifically choose something one child cannot possibly enjoy too?<br><br><br><br>
No reason the pizza party couldn't have been as well served by cheese pizza instead.
 

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Soilman, being invited to a random party is very different than being invited as a reward for hard work/good behavior.<br><br>
Plus, as a teacher your students happiness should be important to you. My son should not have been excluded when it was so easy to include him.<br><br><br><br>
I have a friend who's little girl (also a vegetarian) now has this woman for a teacher and they have had many problems with her. She is not a kind person and I don't think that she should be a teacher at all.
 

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Our insurance recently required us to switch pediatricians. When I told the new ped that the kids were vegetarian, she wanted to know why. I said, "For many reasons." She said, "Fine. Let's hear them." I rattled off about a dozen reasons, which she wrote down. Then she said, "I'm just concerned about whether or not they are getting enough protein, with no meat or dairy in their diets."<br><br><br><br>
I laughed out loud. My son is 90th percentile and my daughters are off the charts in height. They're all around 75th percentile for weight. I said, "Look at them. Are you honestly concerned that they're not getting enough protein?!"<br><br><br><br>
She changed the subject and has not mentioned it again.
 

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Lentil Lady,<br><br><br><br>
You should have gotten an Indian doctor. He/she would never even think of asking you such questions. Veg-ism is pretty much a normal thing for such doctors, even if they are non-veg themselves. It's a cultural thing ;-)
 

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Rushabh, my primary care physician grew up in the area of Bangalore and went to medical school there. He looks Indian, but I don't know which ethnic or religious heritage he has. When I mentioned, in passing, that my diet was vegetarian, he didn't comment one way or another. But this is the same reaction I have gotten from <b>most all</b> doctors. When it recently turned up that I had very slight anemia he didn't say "you gotta eat red meat." He simply said it could be caused by inadequate iron in my diet, interference with absorbtion of iron in food, or something else, I forgot. Then he simply referred me to a hematologist. But I think he realized that I know more about nutrition than he does, and that he doesn't need to help me with dietary choices, and can trust me to make good choices. He knows I use the internet sometimes, to look for dietary information from accredited educational organizations, universities, and such, not from "health-food" salespeople.<br><br><br><br>
The best defense we have against doctors trying to scare us into making dietary choices based on culture rather than science, is to learn the science. I don't think my doctor can draw a 3-dimensional diagram of each of dietarily essential amino acids, showing each of the atoms, with the type of bond between them, and the bond angle. But he know <b>I</b> can. Knowing that I have that kind of knowledge makes him think twice before questioning my dietary judgement. Not that it is really useful dietary knowledge, but it it enough to convince him that he is talking to someone who may know more about dietary sources of protein, or iron than <b>he</b> does. Not that he didn't learn that stuff in pre-med courses. But by now he probably doesn't remember it anymore. I remember.
 

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Most physicians get almost no nutritional education, if any. And they only take formal fulltime classroom courses for two years, then it is two years of clinical rotations and residency. So the majority of their learning is from watching other doctors. Medical culture has major influence in how physicians learn. If they learn from physicians who practice a lot of non-evidence based medicine, that's how they will practice.<br><br><br><br>
So, if a physician says anything that sounds like bull****, ask them to give you some references in the medical literature so you can read up on it. Chances are, they can't.
 

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Thalia writes:<br><br>
================<br><br>
So, if a physician says anything that sounds like bull****, ask them to give you some references in the medical literature so you can read up on it. Chances are, they can't.<br><br>
=================<br><br><br><br>
Yup.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>mushroom</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
. She refused to buy a cheese pizza. She said that my son could simply pick off the pepperoni. (I even offered to pay for it)<br><br>
The phone conversation went from bad to worse. We met with the principal the next morning and suprisingly he took our side and paid for a cheese pizza with school money. I know that our son never felt as comfortable in class after this incident.<br><br>
When the principal asked the teacher how she was going to handle this situation in the future, she said that she would no longer have parties for the top students, because "it just causes trouble for me!"</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
These kind of stories make me so said. I don't understand why a teacher would want to ostrisize a student like that. If she knows there is a problem, is it really that hard to adjust one pizza? I would think she would want to be as inclusive as possible.<br><br>
Soilman: how can you think notifing the teacher of diet restrictions is inconsiderate? She even offered to pay for the pizza. How is that inconsiderate? Vegetarianism isn't something you should be afraid to admit to people and just shut yourself out of normal everyday activities. Why not inform the teacher of the problem? Where is the harm in doing that? Expecially because I think at 4 out of 5 times the switch to something everyone can enjoy will go down with out a problem. And if not, it creates a learning expirence for the people involved. Most teachers wouldn't stop doing pizza parties -- they'd start asking the class if everyone was okay with this option or that option. I had a french teacher my senior year of high school explaining to us that we were all invited to this end of the year bash where she would cook all these different foods for us. Closing the annoncement she said "there were a few vegetarians and a few people allergic to some things last year, is that true for anyone here?". Forbid him to go to the party? Are you kidding me? Embrace the veggie-ness!! Why sit around hungry when you could have avoided it alltogether? This is a planned out event in 2005. More and more people are changing their diet and if you want to feed a group of people, a decent planner considers everyone attending.
 

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Going back to the article in the OP, what gets me is the idea that it's wrong to give supplements to young children. What are vitamins, if not supplements? I was given vitamins when I was a kid. Plenty of other people had to take vitamins (like Flinstones chewable) when they were kids. It's just accepted as a normal part of growing up, at least in the U.S. So when a kid is raised on a meatless and/or dairy/egg free diet, the red flag goes up. "Oh, dear! The poor child is deprived of these important things and is being given supplements instead!"<br><br><br><br>
Gimme a break.
 

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Did anyone see that <b>X-Files Episode</b> about the Bovine Growth Hormone they gave to the cows? It increased the aggressiveness of the kids and the adults. There was this <b>Vegetarian Cult</b> in the town who's belief was basically Vegan, that we're all part of the same energy source and shouldn't kill. Great episode. (there's alot more to it, like paranormal stuff, people going missing, etc. All the usuall X-files goodies!)<br><br><br><br>
I think it was Season 2, disc 3 (the DVD I saw.) Called The Red Museum.<br><br><br><br>
The article posted reminded me of it. Why is it that omnis can't be tolerant enough of other with different dietary choices? Baffling.
 

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"Did anyone see that X-Files Episode about the Bovine Growth Hormone..."<br><br><br><br>
Saw it, but not the whole thing from beginning to end -- had to do household chores at the same time.
 
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