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The Paleo Solution Podcast #148
9/3/12

Responding to question #7, Robb Wolf said (at ~55 minutes into the above noted episode):

“An underfed baby will not have adequate..will not have normal cognitive development.  That is, ya know, the classic scenario when you’re looking at an underfed baby– which interestingly you actually see a lot of this stuff in like the vegan community, because even if the mother is breastfeeding, the mother’s breast milk is so nutrient deficient that the baby’s not doing well, and then beyond that..um..you know it’s a clear indication that when the baby is, has a failure to thrive, there’s a lack of body weight gain, and there’s a lack of normal, kind of psychomotor development…”

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WHAT?!  Did Robb Wolf actually say that the breast milk of vegan mothers is nutrient deficient??  Is he saying that “you see a lot of” vegan babies who are underfed…failing to thrive…lacking body weight gain…and lacking normal psychomotor development?  Seriously?

That’s a bold statement:  “You actually see a lot of this stuff in like the vegan community.”  Someone making a statement like that needs to back it up with some facts!

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On 9/11/12 I went to the Robb Wolf website to ask for the reference:

ME:

“What exactly is the reference to Robb Wolf’s statement about “seeing a lot of this stuff in the vegan community?””

CHRIS WILLIAMS (from the Robb Wolf website):

“Hi Elisa, here are a couple of examples (not to mention Robb’s own experiences and things he’s seen personally)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/29/vegans-trial-death-baby-breast-milk
http://adc.bmj.com/content/63/8/921.full.pdf
It’s not an attack against vegans, but it’s pretty much impossible to get everything necessary for human thrival on a diet without animal products without supplementation.”

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So…what do YOU think about those examples?

The first example— of “seeing a lot of this stuff in like the vegan community”– is the case of one baby who died in France.  The unfortunate 11 month-old died of a pneumonia-related illness.  She was underweight and suffering from vitamin A and vitamin B12 deficiencies.  She was reportedly fed “only on her mother’s milk.”  Her mother just happened to be vegan.

Is this a fair example?  NO!!  This baby should have been started on solid food months before.  Breast milk shouldn’t be the exclusive food source for an 11 month-old infant.  This is NOT a failure of the vegan diet.  This is a failure of parenting, in general.

The second example— of “seeing a lot of this stuff in like the vegan community”– is the case of one baby (a 5 month-old) with a vitamin B12 deficiency.  The deficiency was “due to low vitamin B12 concentrations in the maternal breast milk.”  The case did not indicate whether the mother actually came from “the vegan community” or not.

What the case did indicate was that the mother was found to have classical (Addisonian) pernicious anaemia and hypothyroidism.  Is pernicious anemia unique to vegans?  NO!!

Is this a fair example?  NO!!  Fortunately, the baby in the second case example was treated with B12 and showed a “rapid clinical and haematological improvement.”

Let’s still learn from this…

  1. Everyone needs vitamin B12.  Everyone should have vitamin B12 levels checked periodically.
  2. Vegans should supplement with a B12 supplement.
  3. Non-vegans may also need to supplement, because vitamin B12 deficiency is not only a “vegan issue.”  Besides cases of pernicious anemia, people over age 50 lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from foods.

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Dear Robb Wolf,
Please stop talking out of your paleo ass about vegan babies.

Dear Chris Williams,
To use your words..it’s “pretty much impossible” to take you seriously when you provide such ridiculous examples.

Sincerely,
Freeheel Vegan
(thriving without killing animals…with the intermittent help of a modern world supplement that is cheap and readily available 🙂 )

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”  -Edward Everett Hale

Questions & Answers / Comments & Questions

[In this category of blog posts, I provide “Answers to Questions”…or I pose “Questions to Comments.” The quoted material will be actual, unedited statements directed toward me at one time or another.]

Feedlot – Dodge City, Kansas

#1…Fart In The Wind

This comment was directed at me:

“I don’t understand how anyone that is so self righteous about an ethical issue like this can continue to justify their existence in the world today. Clearly living in any part of the developed world you are contributing to the exploitation of humans and other animals without exception. Being a strict vegan hardly matters if you are worried about exploitation of living beings unless you give up all the other trappings of this modern world. If a vegan were to give it all up and live off the grid and subsist entirely on crops that grew with out aid of petro or animal fertilizer I could have some respect for their opinion and righteous indignation. Otherwise it’s just like a fart in the wind.”

My questions:

1.  Is it **self-righteous to:

  • Speak on behalf of exploited animals?
  • Bring awareness to animal exploitation?
  • State that exploiting others unnecessarily is wrong?
  • Verbalize how exploitation can be prevented/abolished?
  • Question people with difficult, but important questions?
  • Ask people to take reasonable, practical, tangible actions to help animals?
  • Advocate for positive change?

2.  Is this person trying to make a case for why I should go back to consuming animals or why he shouldn’t have to go vegan?

3.  If I can’t prevent every single instance of human or animal exploitation “without exception,” then is it pointless to make an attempt?

4.  Should I kill myself or else stop being vegan?  (Because simply by living, I consume, I use resources, and I have a negative carbon footprint on the world.)

5.  Have I ever stated that going vegan means that vegans make a zero contribution to global human/animal exploitation?  (The answer is no.)

6.  Should I give up “all the other trappings” of this modern world or else stop being vegan?

7.  Would I really gain the respect of this person if I “gave it all up, lived off the grid and subsisted entirely on crops I grew without aid of petro or animal fertilizer?”

8.  Am I really stating an “opinion” when I point out the ways that animals are exploited…or when I state that animal-free alternatives do exist…or when I verbalize that animals would rather live than die if given the choice?

9.  Is this person saying that my words are like a fart in the wind or that my impact living as a vegan is like a fart in the wind?

10.  Speaking of farts…Is this person saying that farts in the wind are insignificant? What about the collective farts of all the dairy and beef cattle in the world? Are those farts impacting global climate change?  Are cow farts just “farts in the wind?”

11.  Should it matter to me if I gain the respect of someone who makes a comment such as this one?  What do you think of this person’s comment?

**Definition:  Self-righteousness (from Wikipedia)…

“Self-righteousness (also called sanctimoniousness, sententiousness, a holier-than-thou attitudes) is a feeling of (usually) smug moral superiority derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person.

The term “self-righteous” is often considered derogatory particularly because self-righteous individuals are often thought to exhibit hypocrisy due to the belief that humans are imperfect and can therefore never be infallible.”

"There are those who are appalled because I am so vocal about injustice, yet I am equally appalled by their silence." Lujene Clark

“Every time you purchase animal products you pay assassins to murder sentient beings for you.”

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"My purpose is not to offend you, it is to provoke you to think." Unknown

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