Research initiated by myself and completed by graduates of Cousens’ School of Holistic Wellness, involving 119 vegan children, whose diets comprised an average of 80% live food and 20% vegan cooked food, suggests that a vegan, live-food diet is quite safe for children. Vegan parents, who ate approximately 80% live food during gestation, had newborns with an average in the upper 58th percentile for weight. These newborns were in the upper 88th percentile for length, and their body mass index (BMI, comparing weight to height) was in the upper 71st percentile.
Although height, weight, and BMI do not entirely define health status, they are strong indicators of normal growth and development—indisputable, concrete correlations between a live-food vegan cuisine and general health. We have a most objective basis for discussion about how live-food and vegan children are doing compared to the U.S. and world population (per World Health Organization data). The upper-percentile birth weights, heights, and BMIs for newborns clearly indicate that women with an 80% live-food vegan diet bring forth very healthy, above-average babies in the overall upper third percentile of BMI.
The study was continued to include babies from ages one to ten months on a spectrum from plant-source-only cooked food to up to 80% live vegan food. Again, these infants compared well to omnivorous infants both in the U.S. and worldwide. The babies who lived on an 80% live- food vegan diet ranked high compared to the general population. Their weight was in the 83rd percentile; their height was in the 86th percentile; and their BMI was in the 67th percentile. These basic growth data, again, strongly indicate that the 80% live-food vegan diet provided excellent support to the development and growth process from age one to ten months. Most of those mothers were breastfeeding, which also speaks to the nutritional quality of the breast milk. These high scores were obtained even though, in general, breastfed children temporarily have normal dips in their growth curves at this age. Fifty-two children were also followed from the ages of one to four years. Again, on a spectrum from a cooked vegan diet to an 80% live-food vegan diet, their weight increased to the 94th percentile (the top 6%).
At four years of age, these children’s height was in the 65th percentile, and their BMI was in the 67th percentile. These are strong scores that indicate a better than normal growth and development. Based on this research, it is safe to conclude that these vegan and/or live-food children were at least in the top third of the U.S. child population in basic physical development. Although 119 children is a modestly small sample, it is the only evidence available on the topic. Many of the other opinions on this topic seemed to be based on fear, biases of the dominant omnivore culture, and social myth. We would love to do a much larger study, but it is hard to get parents to go public because of their concerns about the threatening biases of most public agencies against vegan and live-food children.
Our data was compared to populations analyzed by the CDC and WHO. The American Dietetic Association has said that vegetarian children and adults obtain twice the amount of adequate protein for one’s daily needs. Harvard researchers have stated that it is difficult for a vegetarian to move into protein deficiency if they avoid an excess of fruit and sweets—which is also advised by an intelligent, science-based diet. The Lancet, a renowned British medical journal, stated that vegetarian protein is no longer considered second-class; vegetarian protein is actually safer and healthier than meat protein, and less likely to cause insulin resistance. If one tends to eat junk food, one will have an inadequate diet whether vegan, vegetarian, or omnivorous. But it is virtually impossible not to get enough protein if one eats enough healthy, natural, whole, unrefined foods.
We can comfortably and scientifically say, with the only study available, that vegan, live-food babies, at least until the first four years (the limits of this study), stay in the top third of the general population in height, weight, and BMI. It’s interesting that this population is heavier than the average population, where children are eating junk food, meat, etc.—an obesity-causing diet. This even more strongly indicates the efficacy of the diet in supporting children’s growth.
The overall data strongly suggests that a long-term, scientifically based, organic, vegan diet is the safest diet for ourselves and our children. As previously mentioned, dietary patterns established between the ages of four and eight are more likely to be maintained over a lifetime. The earlier we start our children on a scientifically organized, vegan, organic diet, the higher probability they will have of living longer and healthier, as well as uplifting the overall web of life on the planet.