>> From: John McDougall MD<firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> Date: May 22, 2007 3:53:54 AM EDT
>> To: <email@example.com>
>> Subject: John McDougall, MD - Letter to the Editor - NY Times re
>> "Death by Veganism"
>> Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
>> Read this McDougall mailing online: www.drmcdougall.com/misc/
>> John McDougall, MD - Letter to the Editor - NY Times
>> The New York Times today (May 21, 2007) carried an Op-Ed piece
>> about the dangers of a vegan diet, titled "Death by Veganism,"
>> that deserves an immediate response:
>> For the original article see: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/21/
>> This article, written by Nina Planck, who is identified as a food
>> writer and expert on farmers markets and local food, stems from
>> the case of a recent murder conviction of parents who starved
>> their 6 week old child to death by feeding him a diet of apple
>> juice and soy milk. She writes on her web site, "Among many
>> sources for this piece, I interviewed a family practitioner who
>> treats many vegetarian and vegan families."
>> For the story of the child's death see: http://query.nytimes.com/
>> Here is the 150 word letter to the editor that I sent to the New
>> York Times (chances of publication by the newspaper are obviously
>> Nina Planck's article condemning vegan diet contains serious
>> errors concerning the adequacy of plant foods. Plants do contain
>> all the essential amino acids in adequate quantities to meet human
>> needs, and even those of children (Millward). Vitamin D is not
>> found in milk or meat, unless it is added during manufacturing.
>> Sunlight is the proper source of this vitamin. Plants manufacture
>> beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A. The original source of
>> all minerals (including calcium and zinc) is the ground. Plants
>> are abundant in minerals; and they act as the conduit of minerals
>> to animals. The scientific truth is protein, essential amino
>> acid, mineral, and vitamin (except for B12 which is synthesized by
>> bacteria, not animals) deficiencies are never caused by a diet
>> based on whole plant foods when calorie needs are met. Ms.
>> Planck's distortion of nutritional science is a serious matter
>> that needs to be fixed.
>> Reference: Millward DJ. The nutritional value of plant-based
>> diets in relation to human amino acid and protein requirements.
>> Proc Nutr Soc. 1999 May;58(2):249-60.
>> Addition comments not sent to the newspaper.
>> Nina Planck writes: "You cannot create and nourish a robust baby
>> merely on foods from plants."
>> The scientific truth is: Babies at 6 weeks of age require human
>> breast milk and any other diet means malnutrition. Imagine if the
>> exact opposite approach killed an infant with a formula made of
>> pulverized beef and cow's milk, would this have received similar
>> worldwide press? I believe the case would have been properly
>> considered child neglect (intentional or not) and have gone
>> unnoticed except for those intimately involved. "People love to
>> hear good news about their bad habits" so the tragedy of the death
>> of an infant caused by misguided parents who fed their infant
>> apple juice and soy milk for the first 6 weeks of life has been
>> used to justify eating meat and drinking cow's milk.
>> Nina Planck writes: Protein deficiency is one danger of a vegan
>> diet for babies. Nutritionists used to speak of proteins as "first
>> class" (from meat, fish, eggs and milk) and "second class" (from
>> plants), but today this is considered denigrating to vegetarians.
>> The scientific truth is: Confusion about our protein needs came
>> from studies of the nutritional needs of animals. Mendel and
>> Osborne in 1913 reported rats grew better on animal, than on
>> vegetable, sources of protein. A direct consequence of their
>> studies resulted in meat, eggs, and dairy foods being classified
>> as superior, or "Class A" protein sources and vegetable proteins
>> designated as inferior, or "Class B" proteins. Seems no one
>> considered that rats are not people. One obvious difference in
>> their nutritional needs is rat milk is 11 times more concentrated
>> in protein than is human breast milk. The extra protein supports
>> this animal's rapid growth to adult size in 5 months; while humans
>> take 17 years to fully mature. The world's authority on human
>> protein needs, Prof. Joseph Millward, wrote the following:
>> "Contrary to general opinion, the distinction between diet ary
>> protein sources in terms of the nutritional superiority of animal
>> over plant proteins is much more difficult to demonstrate and less
>> relevant in human nutrition." (References in my April 2007
>> Nina Planck writes: The fact remains, though, that humans prefer
>> animal proteins and fats to cereals and tubers, because they
>> contain all the essential amino acids needed for life in the right
>> ratio. This is not true of plant proteins, which are inferior in
>> quantity and quality — even soy.
>> The scientific truth is: Proteins function as structural
>> materials which build the scaffoldings that maintain cell shapes,
>> enzymes which catalyze biochemical reactions, and hormones which
>> signal messages between cells—to name only a few of their vital
>> roles. Since plants are made up of structurally sound cells with
>> enzymes and hormones, they are by nature rich sources of
>> proteins. In fact, so rich are plants that they can meet the
>> protein needs of the earth's largest animals: elephants,
>> hippopotamuses, giraffes, and cows. You would be correct to
>> deduce that the protein needs of relatively small humans can
>> easily be met by plants. (References in my April 2007 newsletter.)
>> Nina Planck writes: Yet even a breast-fed baby is at risk. Studies
>> show that vegan breast milk lacks enough docosahexaenoic acid, or
>> DHA, the omega-3 fat found in fatty fish.
>> The scientific truth is: Only plants can synthesize essential
>> fats. Any DHA found in animals had its origin from a plant (as
>> alpha linolenic acid). The human body has no difficulty converting
>> plant-derived omega-3 fat, alpha linolenic acid, into DHA or other
>> n-3 fatty acids, supplying our needs even during gestation and
>> Reference: Langdon JH. Has an aquatic diet been necessary for
>> hominin brain evolution and functional development? Br J Nutr.
>> 2006 Jul;96(1):7-17.
>> Mothers who eat the Western diet pass dangerous loads of
>> environmental contaminants through their breast milk to their
>> infants. Meat, dairy and fish in her diet are the source of 80%
>> to 90% of these toxic chemicals. The cleanest and healthiest milk
>> is made by mothers eating a starch-based vegan diet.
>> Nina Planck writes: A vegan diet is equally dangerous for weaned
>> babies and toddlers, who need plenty of protein and calcium.
>> The scientific truth is: Infants should be exclusively breast fed
>> until age 6 months and then partially breast fed until
>> approximately 2 years of age. Starches, fruits, and vegetables
>> should be added after the age of 6 months. The addition of cow's
>> milk causes problems as common as constipation and as devastating
>> as type-1 diabetes. (See my May 2003 newsletter on Marketing Milk
>> and Disease.) Adding meat to an infant's diet is one of the main
>> reasons all children raised on the Western diet have the
>> beginnings of atherosclerosis by the age of 2 years.
>> Nina Planck writes: "An adult who was well-nourished in utero and
>> in infancy may choose to get by on a vegan diet, but babies are
>> built from protein, calcium, cholesterol and fish oil."
>> The scientific truth is: Babies are ideally built from mother's
>> breast milk initially and then from whole foods. Hopefully,
>> parents will realize that the healthiest diet for the entire
>> family (after weaning) is based on starches with the addition of
>> fruits and vegetables. (Vitamin B12 is added to the diet of
>> pregnant or nursing mothers and after 3 years of following a plant-
>> based diet strictly.)
>> Nina Planck has been allowed by the New York Times to exploit the
>> tragedy of a family and to spread commonly held, but
>> scientifically incorrect, information on human nutrition. The
>> author and the newspaper should be held accountable. Hopefully,
>> the end result will be that people desiring the truth will take
>> the trouble to look at the evidence. If this were to be the case,
>> then this New York Times article could be the beginning of long
>> overdue changes in the ways people eat. Write and tell everyone
>> you know that the New York Times has done a sloppy job, and damage
>> to the public, by allowing harmful lies to be spread—especially
>> when you consider that Planck's message promotes a diet known to
>> cause obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and major cancers.
>> John McDougall, MD
>> May 21, 2007
>> ©2007 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
>> McDougall Wellness Center P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402
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