"Hey there... I know you have a daughter about the same age as mine. Recently a friend at school told [my daughter] about the things animals go through to become our food and it has sickened her to the point where she wants nothing to do with meat except 'maybe' fish sticks.I'm so not against this in any way but my concerns are her eating enough other foods to balance out the vitamins and nutrients she got from meat so that it doesn't affect her health or learning development."
Above is part of a letter Jim received from a Pure Jeevan member. The letter was really three separate questions about the raw food diet in regards to (1) nutrition and development, (2) financial stress, and (3) group living. Since my response was getting quite long, Ive split up the questions and answers. Below is my response to the nutrition and development concern. Tomorrow, Ill address financial stress and group living when eating a raw food diet.
Thanks for reaching out and sharing your story with us. First, take a second to acknowledge what an awesome mother you are! Too many times our youth are not respected; they are forced to do things against their will and have very little decision making power about things directly affecting their personal lives. It's wonderful that you are willing to support your daughter with the choice she's making about her diet, and you are caring enough to want to make sure she makes the changes in a healthy way.
Please know that my response addresses your questions, but does so in a way to address a more general audience. I think your questions will be of interest to a broad range of Pure Jeevan family members. So, please dont mistake parts of my response as assumptions of anything on your part. I'm speaking to everyone, while also answering your specific questions. ;-)
When we come from a diet where meat is viewed as the central source of nutrients, it can be difficult to believe one can be healthy without consuming animal products. To ease your mind, our own child (whos almost 16 years old!) was raised vegan (absolutely no animal products at all) from conception, and turned to vegetarianism (by including some dairy and eggs if they were an ingredient in baked desserts) around the age of nine. Since then, she has remained a vegetarian and has never consumed animal flesh (including fish). Her health has always been great and as far as developmental learning, she's exceptionally bright and extremely creative. She walked at the age of nine months, knew colors, numbers, and animal sounds before the age of one (and yes, could say them all), and by the time she was a year and a half old, she was speaking full sentences and having conversations with people (no kidding!). Obviously, consuming meat isn't necessary for overall health and development. So, no worries there. You are right, however, to be concerned about overall nutritional needs being met (this should be a concern no matter what diet is being followed).
In this instance were talking about a child wishing to eat a vegetarian diet. Since there is concern about adequate nutrients, this can be addressed by hiring a nutritionist who understands and supports a vegetarian lifestyle, finding books or online articles written by nutritionists who explain the best ways to help vegetarian children meet nutritional needs, or using a free online nutrient calculator (like cron-o-meter) to track your child's diet. I know you mentioned your child has been receiving a balanced meal that includes meat, so perhaps exposure to a wide variety of healthy foods won't be an issue in your home. If that's the case, it will be easy to acquire all the essential nutrients for a growing body.
With a nutritional overview, either by a nutritionist or through using a free calculator, you'll see what areas of your child's diet may, or may not, need a bit more focus. That should ease your mind a bit, but also keep in mind that the current diet your child has been consuming may not have been meeting all of her needs, either. When eating a normal diet, many parents don't wonder about nutritional requirements being met (and many times they are not) which is why far too many of our youth are unwell and overweight).
Just remember: with a vegetarian diet, we are directly consuming the nutrients that are found in an animals flesh (because the animals get their nutrients -- including protein -- through the vegetarian diets they consume).
I'll address your question about financial stress and group living tomorrow.Keep in mind that Pure Jeevan is not licensed to give health advice. We are simply sharing our own thoughts, experiences, and opinions with others. If you have comments or further questions, feel free to leave a comment on this post. We enjoy hearing from all of you!
Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.
On May 5, 2011, wrote:
Thank you for sharing this story and your suggestion and advice. I'm sure that's all that was needed and you have answered some of 'my own' concerns.
Looking forward to the next questions!
On May 5, 2011, wrote:
I'm happy to have helped. We've had some other comments that this is just what others have needed to hear to help them with their own children. :-) It's great to share and help each other.
Lots of love to you,
On May 6, 2011, wrote:
Also recommend holistic doctor visits with comprehensive blood tests to make sure that the teen's body is getting all the nutrients they need. (This is a great idea for anyone!)
On May 6, 2011, wrote:
Yes! I think it's very important to be tested and continue following up with more tests in the future, to compare what's going on. I've been recommending that, and doing it myself, since I first began my healing journey. Thanks for commenting about it here!