What happens when you eat animal brains

Vegan diet in childrenBrain damage from not eating meat?

Federal Food Minister Christian Schmidt (CSU) warns against giving children a vegan diet. There was a risk of considerable damage to the brain and nervous system. Pure scare tactics, judges the Vegan Society Germany. This is how scientists judge the debate about proper nutrition.

Federal Food Minister Christian Schmidt (CSU) warns against giving children a vegan diet. "Vegan food can lead to dangerous malnutrition. A vegetarian or vegan diet is by no means suitable for children and young people," the minister told the Bild newspaper. "This can cause considerable damage to children."

People who follow a vegan diet only eat plant-based foods - no animal products: no meat, no cheese, no eggs. Many nutrition experts see this as a danger. For "safety reasons", the German Nutrition Society (DGE) advises parents against letting their offspring grow up vegan. On their website it says: "In order to ensure an adequate supply of nutrients and the health of the child, a purely plant-based diet is not suitable during pregnancy, breastfeeding and throughout childhood."

B12 vitamin deficiency is particularly problematic

Press spokeswoman Antje Gahl restricts: The DGE's task is to formulate general recommendations for the general public. A vegan diet always requires individual advice and recommendations, she told Deutschlandfunk. The problem with a vegan diet is the supply of vitamin B12. In the case of a mixed diet, it enters the bloodstream through animal products. If the substance is missing, fatigue, anemia and paleness can occur in the long term. Children’s brain and nervous system can be damaged in their various growth phases.

What is vegan, what is vegetarian?

vegetarian do not eat anything that comes from killed animals (meat, fish, seafood). Many vegetarians also do without animal products such as gelatine. vegan forego all products that come from animals. Their diet is purely plant-based. In other words, they not only do without meat and fish, but also milk, eggs and cheese. Vegans do not eat honey either.

Is it therefore now impossible and irresponsible to feed your child vegan? After all, for many people who avoid animal products in their diet, their way of life is an ethical imperative. Many vegans do not want to lead a lifestyle in which animals only live to serve as food for humans.

It doesn't work without food supplements

Bernhard Koletzko is a department head at the Haunersche Children's Hospital in Munich. He makes it clear: "You cannot feed a child with a healthy vegan diet unless you add micronutrients." In the case of vegan or vegetarian diets, he urgently advises parents to seek advice from their pediatrician. He considers dietary supplements, like those taken by many adult vegans, to be absolutely indispensable - even if it is better to get critical nutrients through natural foods: "The body processes iron from meat differently than iron drops. It is not the same!"

Christian Vagedes is the chairman of the Vegan Society Germany. He sees things very differently: For him, vegan nutrition is simply responsible action for the future: Eating behavior in childhood lays the foundation for that as an adult: The average German eats more than 60 kilograms of meat and sausage a year - twice as much, as experts consider healthy. Such a diet increases the risk of diabetes, gout, high blood pressure or heart disease, according to Vagedes.

Do not switch to a vegan diet unprepared

But there is also agreement between proponents and critics of a vegan diet. What remains dangerous is to remove all animal foods from the menu unprepared. Bernhard Watzl, Head of the Institute for Physiology and Biochemistry of Nutrition at the Max Rubner Institute in Karlsruhe: A vegan diet requires a lot of nutritional knowledge: "But if critical nutrients are added as additives, it is possible without any problems."