This is an odd one, which stinks of the usual backward anti-vegetarian discourse that claims that no one can be healthy without meat and dairy. In Crete, Greece, a couple has been refused adoption of a child based on the fact that they eat a vegetarian diet. Now I may be able to accept that if the reasoning had been along the lines of “well the child must eat souvlaki, otherwise he/she is not a real Greek,” but sadly it comes from the usual tired vegetarians-are-unhealthy rhetoric that’s so abundant in seemingly everyone. Whilst I don’t mind my friends bullying me over living a vegan diet, and they can call me unhealthy all they wish, it’s a whole different issue when it’s Crete’s welfare services and Crete University’s medical school who are backing such statements, and when the effect is as drastic as disallowing a couple to adopt.
I think the statement that got to me more than any other from the article I read on the issue was from Antonis Kafatos. He said “A child needs to eat fish, seafood and dairy products among other things, without meat being essential.” Now, this guy is allegedly a paediatrician and a nutrition researcher, but that statement makes me wonder what the hell he has been researching for the past however many years. Here’s the thing, there’s certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that a child, and indeed any human body needs to survive and function properly. Yes, these requirements can be found in meat and milk, but they’re among many other things (most of which contain far less cholestrol, bad fats, and are generally better for the human body to digest than the animal products). To say a child needs meat and milk is ignorant logic.
Not only that, but who says that a meat and dairy-based diet is inherently healthy? I’ve seen some unhealthy vegetarians, but go and look in your local KFC and you’ll see several teen mums shovelling fried chicken and chips into their 3 year olds’ mouths. I know this situation is in Greece, but I’ve been to Greece several times and seen my fair share of obese Greek people, so I’m able to say I don’t think their diet is by any means the healthiest. The olive oil plays a hugely positive role in staying healthy, as does the sunlight, but the Greek diet is not necessarily a healthy one.
For more info on ridiculous anti-vegan arguments check wrosie’s post here. This decision is in the process of being examined, so hopefully it will be over-turned. In the meantime, perhaps Greece’s nutritionists should actually do some work?