Raw vegan children
November 2011 (Updated)
When I first wrote this article in July 2008, it caused huge waves throughout the raw food community. I got my point across sufficiently to tone the article down now.
If you have any plans to raise a raw or vegan child, you need to read this, and I also urge you to read Evie's Kitchen. I spent four years researching that book so we never need see a deficient raw child again.
Since 2000, I've had the opportunity to meet thousands of raw foodists. I've also met hundreds of raw children in that time. By far, the children who are vegetarian appear healthier than the vegan children, when beyond breastfeeding age.
These observations led me to research from the ground up childhood nutrition, vegan nutrition and raw food nutrition. I had a very good reason to get it right -- my daughter Evie. I wanted her to be raw for health reasons. I wanted her to be vegan because I'd been vegan for so long.
However, all the while I was researching this information, I saw huge amounts of misinformation being fed to the raw food community. I also saw children with very damaged teeth, stunted growth and developmental problems.
Worryingly, the children of some of those who actively promoted raw food had experienced the worst symptoms. If these children were put on a raw or cooked vegetarian (not vegan) diet, and were given supplements, they often caught up. Those who are still raw vegan are still experiencing development and growth issues.
I was most concerned that these and all other "raw food promoters" never, not once publicly stated what had happened to their children. In fact, when other raw parents were having issues with the development of their children, these very same raw food promoters and coaches told them to keep on doing what they were doing. This caused the raw food community to remain oblivious to the potential dangers of raising children raw.
It all added up to a cover up in the raw food community spanning years.
Evie and her booboo, just before weaning on her fourth birthday
These parents clearly love their children. And I can't believe for one second they would wish their traumas on other families, so why haven't they spoken publicly? FEAR. Fear at being judged, fear at being seen as failures, fear at ruining their careers, fear of the small yet vocal hardline fruitarian-types saying they'd got it wrong because they weren't following their dogmatic diet.
Parents who have had the courage to speak up have been hounded and slated, ostracised and ridiculed. Their experiences have been dismissed, and they haven't been listened to. Their experiences certainly haven't been welcomed as something for the raw food community to embrace.
Even worse is the lies in this cover-up.
Take these examples:
- One mother experienced severe growth defects in her children on the raw vegan unsupplemented diet and resorted to feeding them large quantities of dairy and meat. She has since stood shoulder to shoulder with the other raw vegan dogmatists and writes on raw food forums pretending to be someone else! She says that she has been successful in raising her children raw vegan, yet she clearly hasn't.
- The raw vegan child who was severely behind his development schedule and had flourosis. His mother altered his diet (to cooked vegetarian plus supplements, plus some fish in the early days) and he eventually he began to sit, crawl and catch up. Even after this harrowing experience, this mother continued to tell other mothers of children that weren't thriving on the raw vegan diet that raw vegan is OK, and to eat more fruit. She has never made a public statement about this experience and continues to be vague about what makes a healthy raw food diet for adults and children.
- The raw vegan family in the USA who have several children. The last child wasn't even sitting up by the age of two. All the children are extremely thin and "bird like".
- The raw vegan fruit promoter who says all non-vegan children are too tall and vegan children are supposed to be small.
- The tiny raw girl on YouTube who has hardly any top teeth due to visible decay.
In fact, I've scoured the world and asked and asked. And this is the truth: no-one has yet come forward with a child who has been raised 100% raw vegan unsupplemented who is the correct weight and height for their age and is beyond breastfeeding years.
Because it's impossible to grow a child healthily on that kind of diet.
Why do seemingly intelligent people say it's possible?
Indoctrination and dogmatism. These people are so tied into a belief system that nothing, not even the visible deteriorating health of their child can bring them out of their hypnotic state.
The truth is, though I'd love to see it, I have never once seen a 100% raw 100% vegan 100% unsupplemented child beyond breastfeeding age who has no tooth decay and is the correct weight and height for their age. Not one. Ever.
On the other hand, I have, since 2001 seen countless raw vegan unsupplemented children spanning several countries (including the USA) with growth, teeth and mental disorders. Now, don't ask, because I will not name names, ever.
My heart has wept when I've received letters from mothers who "just couldn't raise their children raw vegan", no matter how much they wanted to, even though they followed the advice of "experts" to the letter. And I've been puzzled as to why the raw food community covers these issues up time and time again. "Is it just me"? I've often wondered?
But it isn't just me, as the letters I've recently received tell me. It is a cover up, or at least it was.
Like you, I desperately wanted to see these shining examples of raw vegan unsupplemented children because I wanted Evie to be one. I wanted to raise her naturally and cruelty free. I'd been told it was possible. There were tales of this family, and that family, and the other family. But whenever I looked into it, they weren't all raw all vegan and not supplemented. Or if they were, they were too small, too birdlike, often with with tooth decay and sometimes with developmental issues.
I would never knowingly put Evie's health at risk. I always vowed that I'd continually assess her and make adjustments to her diet if necessary. I decided long ago to give her a small amount of supplementation daily. That way maybe she could still be raw and still be vegan yet also be the correct size, with good teeth and and a high IQ.
As Evie grew and became less dependant on my breast milk, I knew I had to research the precise missing links in raw vegan infant health. I would be doing her and my readers a terrible disservice if I didn't.
First, I had to question my own belief system. The initials for Belief System are BS, have you ever noticed that? At the time of writing I've been an ethical vegan for around 25 years and into raw food for over 10 years. I have a huge amount of experience with raw and vegan diets. I spend my life living, breathing and researching it. I've been taking small amounts of supplements on and off myself as long as I've been vegan. I had to keep reminding myself that a vegan diet isn't natural and therefore must be supplemented for optimal health.
Then I had to question the sanity of those who dismissed the experience of others. The blatant lies and cover-ups are likely due to the left brain being too dominant in these people. While I feel physically sick that this still happens, I refuse to judge or condemn them. They need love, just like the rest of us. They need to be made to feel safe and secure so they can be truthful and get the help they need for their children without risk of attack.
Next I had to research childhood nutrition in depth, from all angles. I had to understand it as a whole, and then work out where the pieces of the jigsaw were missing for raw vegans. As a result, I've worked out a way of making the raw vegan diet successful for growing children. Their needs are specific, and quite different to the needs of adults, so our experiences don't equal their experiences on raw vegan foods. This is all in my book, Evie's Kitchen, but I don't want you to have to buy something that could be crucial to your child's health, so I've outlined those jigsaw pieces below.
Finally, I had to apply my findings to Evie, cross my fingers tight and hope that it worked. Interestingly, as she turned four and I stopped breastfeeding her, I experimented with some raw animal byproducts, which was extremely difficult for me, as a vegan, to do. I finally settled on a few organic free range egg yolks a week and some raw cheese and butter. I'm hoping this, with her supplements and her hugely varied diet will be enough. I'm constantly evaluating her.
If her growth or teeth suffer, I will make adjustments. My vegan choice is not Evie's, and I will only keep her mostly vegan if she continues to flourish. I will not lie about any future choices I make for her, I will not cover it up, and I will not damage my child. This, I promise her and you.
I'm brave enough to face the flames of the forums (I actually laugh at the highly incorrect assumptions they make about me) and the army of raw vegans who insist they are right, regardless of their lack of experience in this matter.
I make absolutely no apologies for raising this issue. I will continue to raise it until we get a generation of healthy raw children. Believe me, I will not make this convenient for the hardline raw vegans out there and scuttle off under a stone, feeling like a failure. They've done that to enough mothers, but they cannot do it to me -- I have no fear and a huge audience. Nothing they can say can hurt me because I know I'm fully living my truth.
You can be brave enough, too. If your raw vegan child has suffered as a result of miseducation and lies, you will probably be able to reverse the damage with supplementation or dietary shifts. Seek help from a natural medical practitioner today. Read the advice I give in Evie's Kitchen. I wish you luck. Some day, your story may help other raw vegan parents and children. We need to all remain positive about this situation, it's a great learning opportunity.
- A healthy raw vegan child should not be smaller or lighter than other children. Of course all children vary in size, but frail, bird-like and too small is a warning sign.
- A healthy raw vegan child should not have tooth decay.
- A healthy raw vegan child should not have sunken cheeks or a strange shaped face.
- A healthy raw vegan child should be sociable, intelligent and happy.
- A healthy raw vegan child should develop at approximately the same rate as other children.
- A raw vegan child should not have to suffer permanent physical damage because of indoctrinated dogma and lies.
That being the case, please, for the sake of all the future raw kids, let's stop these lies now! They benefit absolutely no-one and they lead to CHILD ABUSE! Junk food children are suffering throughout the western world -- if we claim to have more knowledge about health than the average person, then our children should be more healthy than the average person. Poor growth and rotten teeth in a child is not detox, wheatgrass deficiency, emotional parental energetic genetic issues or anything else, it is intentional malnutrition, and that is CHILD ABUSE.
So what supplements could make a difference?
If you want more information on the missing elements, you can hear a radio interview I did on this subject. It's all in there, free of charge to you right now. You don't have to wait for Evie's Kitchen to arrive to ensure you have a healthy raw vegan child. It is my wish right now for every raw vegan child to be fully radiant, happy and healthy. And I still feel that it's possible, but only with supplementation.
In summary, Evie's supplementation consists of:
Soya lecithin for choline (and egg for the same reason since turning four).
Vitamin D3 (sun exposure may be enough, depending on skin colour and location).
Vitamin K2 (we can't synthesise enough K2 and it's essential for bones and teeth).
Ortho Bone Vegan (contains K2, but not enough, B12 and essential bone health co-factors).
Vegan DHA and EPA (long-chain fatty acids, essential for brain growth, especially up to two years of age).
Ionic iron (not always necessary to supplement but may be worthwhile up to five years due to faddy eating).
Everything else is ABUNDANT in a good raw vegan diet. Evie has about a pint of green juice a day, lots of seeds (and their mylks), lots of nutrient-dense food such as berries and coconut as well as small amounts of ecstatic foods such as maca, AFA algae, seaweeds, mesquite, purple corn, Incan berries and goji berries. Since she turned four, for sociable reasons I've lowered her rawness from 100% to 80%. The 20% of cooked food she eats is normally wholefood, and ultra healthy. She loves this change, and I love how she still adores my raw soups!
I cannot stress highly enough that I love raw vegan foods
Raw food gave me my life back, and I'm eternally grateful to it. I love being a vegan and hope I will be one for the rest of my life. However, it's not natural to be a vegan. Even "vegan" animals such as horses eat lots of insects and their poo, unlike us. If you want your child to be raw vegan and unsupplemented, tread very carefully, keep checking growth and teeth and find a good role model. I don't know of one. If you want your child to be raw vegan with a few small supplements, you now know what to look for. If you want your child to be raw and unsupplemented, then please assume they can't also be vegan.
Finally, every child has different needs and preferences. If possible, get your child tested for deficiencies to see if there is anything else you need to add in. For example, iodine is necessary for growth and IQ, and we get ours from kelp, you may need to supplement.
Here's to your child's health and the blossoming of honesty in the worldwide raw food community.
Some of your questions answered
I've had so many letters of support for speaking out about this essential issue. We haven't been able to answer all of them but we have read them, and thank everyone who has contacted us about this. I have felt an enormous sense of relief since writing this article, and am happy that it's already having such a positive effect on raw families everywhere.
I'd just like to answer the most common questions that we've had, so you have my "official" view on some things:
Q: Are you not a vegan any more?
A: Yes, I am. Believe me, I've gone round in circles in my head about this whole issue! I've been a vegan about 25 years, veggie for 2 years before that. I feel like I'm at a stage in my life where I couldn't go back to eating animal products. It feels wrong for me on so many levels. However, I'm not a growing child, and I supplement regularly. I'm super healthy, and have no need to look outside my diet and supplements for health. And who knows how I'll feel tomorrow.
Q: Is Evie not a vegan any more?
A: No, she eats a few organic free range egg yolks a week plus some raw cheese and butter. After what I've seen, I just don't want to risk deficiency in her. I am still vegan, yet I'm not going to risk Evie's health for my ethics. Milk is species specific, and I don't think it's natural, but the other option would be to eat insects and small things that we could catch. Neither is ideal for me but this isn't about thought, this is about integrating ourselves as living beings.
Q: Why has no-one else mentioned vitamin K2? Is it the same as vitamin K, because that's abundant in green leafy vegetables.
A: I researched Evie's Kitchen for about four years. It took me a long time to work out this small but hugely important missing link in vegan bone health. I've not seen it in any other vegan literature ever in my life. Vitamin K1 is abundant in leafy greens. As raw vegans who eat lots of greens and green juices, we get plenty. We then synthesise vitamin K2 in the gut from vitamin K1. This is the element that works with vitamins A and D to help bone minerals deposit themselves in the right place. If there's not enough vitamins A, D or K2, then bone and tooth problems will occur. It doesn't matter if you take in tonnes of minerals, if you don't have the fat soluble vitamins to help them find their homes, they won't work at all.
Animals are very good at converting vitamin K1 to K2. Humans are very bad at it, and it appears our daily upper limit of conversion is less than the amount we need for good bone health. It's abundant in the milk and organ meat of grass-fed animals. This is why goat's milk works, even though it's not natural to take the milk of another animal. Though vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin, it's not stored for more than a few days in the body, so we need regular small amounts of vitamin K2 for perfect bone health. We can either choose to have it from animal products or as a supplement. If we don't have it, we will not remain in optimal health. If growing children don't have it, they won't grow correctly. A breastfed child will get it from the mother (from what she's eaten, taken as a supplement or converted). If the mother doesn't replace what the child takes, her teeth and bones may suffer. When the child stops breastfeeding s/he needs to get K2 from elsewhere. I've been giving Evie Ortho Bone Vegan (which contains K2) for a long time, long before I understood the importance of vitamin K2. I'm so thankful of that. Her health and size are perfect.
Q: Is there anything else I can do to ensure good bone and teeth health for my child?
A: Lots of green juices, herbs in food, superfoods, wild foods and sea vegetables. I would never attempt to raise a raw vegan child without supplements, and I also have them. The least you need to take is Ortho Bone Vegan (2-4 caps a day for a child, sprinkled into food and drinks, 12 caps per adult per day). This particular supplement covers all bases, and is a great safety net, but it's no replacement for nutrient dense raw organic or wild food. If you are breastfeeding, this food and supplement advice applies to you at least up until you stop breastfeeding, but beyond that if possible.
Also, you need to take B12 sublingually (in a spray form if possible), or have a B12 patch when pregnant and breastfeeding. As soon as your child is six months, you need to supplement her directly in the same way. Breastfeeding babies can't absorb B12 if it's stored in your body, only if it's floating around and in your milk. Lack of B12 can result in severe and irreversible developmental delays.
Q: Why should we believe what you say when you won't tell us who these children are?
I won't tell you who these children are. It's not fair on the families involved. You wouldn't want that for your child, would you? I have no reason to make all this up. I've got better things to do with my time! If you don't believe what I'm saying, and choose to raise your raw vegan child without supplements, then you will always remember that you saw this information. If your child doesn't thrive, then you can quickly change your belief system and adjust your child's nutritional intake.
I hope, in writing this, that no more raw vegan children suffer with deficiencies. Now we know how to prevent it, there's no need at all. That's my only wish, in this whole situation. Thanks once again to everyone who contacted us. I hope these answers help.
If you want to go raw the healthy way, then all you need to know is here, in my multimedia raw food beginner's program. I promise thatI've covered it all so you can be assured you won't get deficient and you will get all the amazing benefits that raw food brings: