Vegan and Vegetarian Children, and Shamanic Autism Treatments...Fascinating Articles This Week
“There are two programs now available for meeting the dental caries problem. One is to know first in detail all the physical and chemical factors involved and then proceed. The other is to know how to prevent the disease as the primitives have shown and then proceed. The former is largely the practice of the moderns. The latter is the program suggested by these investigations.”
Weston Price, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”
I know that vegetarians and vegans comprise only a small percentage of the total human population on earth who eat food. So it might seem like I have somehow launched a crusade against non-meat diets in the past year, without due cause. And it might seem like I am somehow insinuating that as long as you eat meat, then you're all fine and dandy in terms of health.
But first you have to understand that I'm only this obsessed with (non-) Meat-eating because I was a vegetarian for so long, and because I now believe that my former diet's deficiencies played a large role in my child's developing his very severe deficiencies and subsequent severe illness. I am now fairly certain that it's VERY hard to be a healthy vegetarian (the only sustainable flesh-free human populations of which I have learned consumed large amounts of super-high-quality dairy), that it's harder still to support a healthy pregnancy and healthy child development as a vegetarian, and that--in many cases, it may be impossible to heal from certain health issues (and maintain that health for a long lifetime, and later be able to bear children) as a vegetarian. Unless one is a very healthy vegetarian, I don't think that one will have very healthy vegetarian children...and how many “very healthy” people do you know?? Unfortunately, when I was pregnant with my children, I wasn't on your list...
Anyway, I am not keeping my mouth shut about this issue, obscure as it may be, because currently vegetarianism is enjoying a sort of revival and heyday, and practically everyone in our culture has been trained that meat and saturated fat are now bad for us. I am pretty sure that this particular brainwashing is one reason we are getting sicker than ever before.
However, I want to be clear that I am in NO WAY advocating that simply eating meat is the ticket to good health. One can find a billion problems with the SAD (Standard American Diet), which obviously contains lots of meat and doesn't foster any semblance of blossoming good health--we don't need any bloggers or breaking news reports to tell us this. It's just that I no longer think that it's MEAT per se that's the problem, nor do I believe that a meat-free diet can necessarily maintain many generations of healthy humans. There aren't very many lifelong or long-term vegetarians out there, especially in our western culture, and since vegetarianism was formerly the diet/religion that I was sure would save the world, I get intrigued when others question this.
http://www.shazzie.com/life/articles/raw_vegan_children.shtml . This writer has a slightly different perspective than I, because she has been a vegan for twenty-five years and hopes to remain so for the rest of her life, for ethical reasons. But she also has some very important and experienced warnings:
“...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 seem healthier than the vegan children.
“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...”
“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...”
This author feels that even though a “vegan diet isn't natural,” it is ethically preferable to continue her raw veganism anyway. But at least she is noticing the challenges inherent to raising healthy children on animal-free-diets, and stating publically her observation that it may be _impossible_ to raise a healthy unsupplemented raw vegan child. When her own daughter stopped breastfeeding, she began supplementing her child's diet with, among other things, small amounts of animal foods in order to prevent deficiencies.
“...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, 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...”
I personally would take the matter a step further and question: how could a diet that requires synthetic supplements to nourish a child be healthy in the long term to nourish an adult? I can understand how healing protocols that help, say, a person to recover from cancer, may not be necessary or even at all sustainable for the long term (i.e. for many decades). But here right now, I am talking about _diet_, the foods we normally eat everyday and might conceivably eat until the day we die.
Over this past year, I have asked myself all of the following questions, plus many others: Is my normal, everyday diet sustainable for (as in, “capable of nourishing”) the next seven generations and beyond? And if not, why not? And if I don't know the answer, why should I feed myself and my family this way and be the guinea pigs? (When I say “this way,” I am referring to vegetarianism as formerly practiced by me for about three decades: exclusively whole-grains, low-saturated-fat, few-animal-products, lots-of-vegetables, etc.) And if it's definitely _not_ sustainable, as evidenced by the number of people who get sick when eating this way long-term, why on earth should I/my family keep eating this way? And if it's not sustainable and we keep eating this way anyway, what are the ramifications? And if it's not sustainable...how much less-than-super-healthy can I let my children become before I decide to change the way we nourish ourselves?
Obviously, if you have read any of my recent website posts, you know that I've reached a few conclusions based on my own research: sustainable human diets appear to require some animal foods. Upshot: my family and I now eat animal foods every day.
I am fascinated to hear other people questioning and deciding upon their own personal dietary journeys.
What research have YOU been doing lately? I would love to hear about your own answers to these tricky questions... :)
I'd heard about this movie, called “The Horse Boy” http://www.horseboymovie.com/, which evidently chronicles a family who travels to Mongolia, rides horses a lot, meets shamans, and heals their son's autism. The horses are what got lots of attention, in terms of people trying to figure out how to transfer this healing method into one with widespread application. But...as pointed out by a reader of my website, the story is more complicated... http://www.pactharlow.org.uk/index_files/Page1298.htm
...Because when you read farther down this article, you quickly find that this boy wasn't _just_ riding horses: “The family spent a month in Mongolia in 2007, riding across the steppe towards a sacred lake, then on to see the country's most renowned shaman, an old man called Ghoste who lives in a tepee. Along the way there were all sorts of adventures: encounters with other healers, a day-long healing session on a holy mountain. The trip was often arduous, and at times chaotic, and punctuated with the bizarre – as well as having to drink copious amounts of [fermented] mare's milk curd at various traditional gatherings, there was also an occasion when the bowl of soup proffered contained reindeer faeces. 'We drank it,' remembers Rupert. 'It was utterly disgusting!'”
[Fascinating, right? Especially when you consider some of the successful attempts at dealing with certain gut issues by ingesting helminths...]
Then, there's this article, concerning the traditional Mongolian diet and [lack of Western-style] hygeine: http://www.westonaprice.org/in-his-footsteps/232-diet-of-mongolia.html
"'The difficulties in buying milk are also very considerable, and nothing will induce them to sell it in cloudy weather. We were sometimes successful in overcoming the scruples of one of the fair sex by a present of needles or red beads, but in such case she begged us to cover the vessel over when removing it from the yurta, in order that the heavens should not witness the wicked deed. I may add that Mongols keep milk in the dirtiest way imaginable. It frequently happened that one of them would ride up to our tent with a jugful for sale, the lid and spout of the vessel having been smeared with fresh cow dung to prevent the liquid splashing out on the road. Cows' teats are never washed before milking, nor are the vessels into which the milk is poured.'
“These last observations regarding issues of hygiene vis-à-vis milk present some challenging opportunities to stretch one's mind on the topic. First of all, the Mongolian high plains are a very arid region. Livestock do not find themselves in mud, nor do humid conditions exist. Cheese curds were commonly dried in the open air directly on the roofs of their gers. Mountain peoples of other regions, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, to name only two, traditionally soured milk in vessels (commonly wooden tubs) that were never washed, and in fact often stood outdoors. Morning and evening milk would be added to a continually fermenting mass. Tasty curd was scooped out when ready to eat, or was processed further by drying for long-term storage. Likewise, traditional bakers worldwide never washed their wooden dough troughs in between bakings, and for the same reason: the stable cultures living in the crevices reliably produced the desired soured results, and the strength of the healthy culture deterred contamination by other microorganisms.
“The use of fresh cow dung as an antiseptic, sanitary and healing agent has been practiced for centuries in India and Nepal. The first time I learned of the use of fresh cow dung as a housekeeping aid was in a modern Indian cookbook. The author mentioned that her grandmother possessed such a fanatical obsession with cleanliness that she had her kitchen floor resurfaced with fresh cow dung not weekly, or even daily, but after every single meal. Fresh cow dung would be regularly applied to the floor of the kitchen, as well as to the floors of the sitting and sleeping areas of well-kept Indian homes. Along with antiseptic qualities, the fresh dung repelled flies, mosquitoes and other insects. Farmers would reserve the dung for their customers, and there were of course precise conditions required for its collection (such as only from a female cow that is not pregnant, ill or wounded, and preferably caught before it touched the ground and used almost immediately).
“Fresh cow dung has been used in Ayurvedic medicine and veterinary practice, applied to open wounds to speed healing, and in cases of psoriasis and eczema, to name but a few conditions for which it is prescribed. It is also used as a substrate for compound remedies, while urine has numerous medicinal uses as well.
“Modern Indian practitioners today caution that the medicinal and antiseptic qualities of cow dung have been deteriorating in recent years due largely to unnatural foodstuffs fed to the animals. These include everything from invading leguminous weed species in pastures to fishmeal fed on farms. The resulting dung from these animals will not prevent infection, they warn, but can actually cause it.
“These observations on alternative uses of cow dung are not an apology for careless hygiene, but they might suggest another, unconsidered dimension beyond our 'fear of filth.' Harmonious ecosystems, in which humans are only one part, achieve balance through the cooperation and interdependence of many visible and invisible components. When the balance is upset, the wisdom of the entire system is deranged, and illness results. It is interesting to note that in Przhevalsky's account no one in his entourage falls ill from consuming any of the dairy products they purchase from the Mongols during their three years of travel. In fact, their primary complaint is that the butter and milk are always so expensive!”