06/20/08 Denial of Article "Veganism is not for Children"

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Children's Hospital Zagreb
Director Sanja Kolacek, prof. dr.
Klaiceva 16
10000 Zagreb

June 20, 2008

Dear prof. dr. Kolacek,

Animal Friends is a non-profit organization that promotes vegetarianism, considering it a healthy, ethical, and ecologically acceptable lifestyle.

We address you in with regard to your statement published in Jutarnji list on June 18, 2008, page 32, in which you state that a vegetarian and vegan diet does not belong on children's menus.

That statement shows that you are severely misinformed on vegetarian and vegan diet, which misleads the public.

The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada have done a very detailed and lengthy research which concluded that a "well-planned vegan and other vegetarian diet is suitable for any stage in life, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy and adolescence." Furthermore, the research states "that a properly planned vegetarian diet is healthy, sufficient in nutrients, and ensures health benefits in prevention and treatment of certain diseases." We are sending you the entire study in the attachment.

Examples from the article are single cases of non-educated parents who did not comply with the rules of a vegetarian diet. Infants should not be given neither cow's milk nor soy milk, but strictly mother's milk or adapted milk, a soy-based version which exists for vegan children or children allergic to cow's milk. Pediatricians and dietitians who advise vegetarians, that choose a veg(etari)an diet out of ethical, ecological or health reasons, to include animal-based foods in their diet are not contributing to solving possible lack of nutrients for vegetarians. The role of pediatricians and dietitians is to inform parents who are vegetarians and vegans about the proper combination of plant-based foods, which are a valuable source of all nutrients.

According to independent research done by SPEM Communication Group in 2007, 3.7 per cent of Croatian citizens are vegetarians which means that there are over 150,000 people who are following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Since vegetarian and vegan diets are accepted in the world by all public institutions and confirmed by physicians, dietitians and scientists, we expect Croatian experts in the field of nutrition to invest some time into further training on vegetarian and vegan diets in order to objectively inform the public.

We invite you to visit the web-site of our organization, www.prijatelji-zivotinja.hr, and read scientific articles on a veg(etari)an diet. You can also obtain literature on the vegetarian diet, and we strongly recommend the book by dr. Benjamin Spock, Baby and Child Care, the seventh expanded edition, (published by Botteri i sinovi [Botteri and Sons], Supetar, 2004), in which this world renowned pediatrician specifically recommends a vegan diet as completely acceptable for the child's health. In his lifetime, Dr. Spock was a member of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). We attach some texts by PCRM on vegan diet for children to encourage further education.

There are also many studies which show the advantages of vegetarian and vegan diets in the prevention of certain diseases in children and adults alike.

We are at your disposal for any form of cooperation, and we offer you our help in acquiring scientific literature.

With regards,

Ivana Surjan
Animal Friends Croatia

- Croatian Pediatric Society
- Dr. Marija Dzepina, Zagreb Institute of Public Health
- Goranka Juresko, Jutarnji list




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