May
16

Dr.Benjamin Spock On Veganism

Dr. Benjamin Spock

Dr. Benjamin Spock

The late Dr. Benjamin Spock is probably considered by many to be the most influential pediatrician of all time. Did you know that his landmark book Baby and Child Carethroughout its first 52 years, was the second best-selling book in the United States after the Bible?

Dr. Spock's Baby And Child Care (Fully Revised 9th Edition)

Dr. Spock’s Baby And Child Care (Fully Revised 9th Edition)

As the first pediatrician to study psychoanalysis to understand children’s needs, Dr. Spock revolutionized the way we raise our children. If not for his influence and ideas about childcare, we would still be spanking our children as the norm and letting our babies cry endlessly with minimal affection to prevent “spoiling” them. It was the great Dr. Spock who encouraged parents to be more flexible and affectionate with their children, and to treat them as individuals. Clearly, he was way ahead of his time when he sent the message to mothers everywhere that “you know more than you think you do.”

This is why it came as no surprise to me when I recently learned that in 1998 Dr. Spock revised the seventh edition of his book Baby and Child Care, published a few weeks after he died at age 94, to advocate for a vegetarian diet for children and urging parents not to give them milk or other dairy products after the age of 2. That’s right, Dr. Spock recommended that all children stick to a vegetarian diet becoming vegan after the age of 2.

Mary Morgan, Dr. Spock’s wife, has stated that the doctor’s own declining health had rebounded after he switched to an all-plant diet in 1991 (at the age of 88). This “enabled him to revise his book before he died, which was his most important goal.” Dr. Spock’s co-author, Dr. Steven J. Parker, told the New York Times that Spock believed his vegetarian diet had “given him a new lease on life” and that he wanted the latest issue of his book to be “in the forefront” of linking animal-based foods to disease. 

According to Jane E. Brody of the NY Times News Service, Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, drafted the section on nutrition in the updated edition of Dr. Spock’s book; however, Dr. Spock edited Dr. Barnard’s draft to give it “his personal touch.”

For your information, I decided to write this post after reading yet another disappointing article by a decade-long vegan who proclaimed, among other things, that her family is no longer vegan because she had doubts about the adequacy of a vegan diet for her toddler.

Having previously researched this issue, I already knew that the scientific evidence is overwhelming that vegan diets are appropriate for infants and children but I decided to do a further inquiry. According to a statement from the American Dietetic Association, the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, well-planned vegan diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle and satisfy nutrient needs of infants, children, and adolescents and promote normal growth.

Although the results of my research solidified my knowledge that a well-planned vegan diet is clearly sufficient for infants, toddlers and children, I was thrilled to learn that the legendary Dr. Benjamin Spock was, as usual, ahead of his time when he revised the seventh edition of Baby and Child Care recommending a vegan diet for children. I thought you might be interested in this wonderful tidbit of information, as well.

Click here if you are interested in reading about the advantages of vegan diets for children, as well as obtaining quick and easy meal suggestions, and advice and tips about raising vegan kids.

Comments

  1. Dr. Spock was the authority for generations and it seemed he was quite courageous to amend his advice about nutrition in the latest version of his books. He must have felt very strongly about veganism to influence the thousands and millions of his readers and followers. The fact that he took his own advice and changed his own diet is a testament to his integrity. Why are parents reluctant to give their children plant-based nutrition?

    • Dr. Spock did feel very strongly about amending his book before he died. In fact, it was his mission. Parents are probably reluctant to give their children plant-based nutrition because it has been drummed into their heads for so many years that children need milk and dairy to grow, and iron and protein from animal sources. Change is slow, but Dr. Spock realized the importance of a plant-based diet during the latter years of his life.

  2. Wow! This should really change the way that parents view their children’s nutritional needs, I would have never thought that a non meat diet would be healthy for a growing child. This really would have been a game changer for me, when they were little.

    • Our kids were about 5 years old when Dr. Spock amended his book. I was reading “Baby And Child Care” when my kids were much younger than five, so I feel that I missed the boat. How lucky for new parents now to have this information at their fingertips!

  3. I think it will be more of the same…those who embrace science will be influenced by Spock’s opinions. Those who refute science will say he lost his marbles at the end of his life while wondering where the polar ice caps have gone.
    I only wish I burned Dr. Ferbers book and followed Dr. Spock on the sleep issue!

    • I agree with you except for the fact that Dr. Ferber’s method worked like a charm with our son. It was not really endless crying for fear of spoiling, but rather timed periods as behavior modification to help him sleep.

  4. May I simply just say what a comfort to uncover someone that
    really knows what they are discussing over the internet.
    You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and
    make it important. A lot more people ought to look at this and understand this side of the
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  5. AliceNYC says:

    The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ( formerly known as the American dietetic association) has long supported the healthfulness of vegetarian and vegan diets for humans at all phases of life, including infancy and pregnancy.

    https://www.eatrightpro.org/practice/position-and-practice-papers/position-papers/vegetarian-diets

    https://www.eatrightpro.org/-/media/eatrightpro-files/practice/position-and-practice-papers/position-papers/vegetarian-diet.pdf?la=en&hash=13D2FB5B600CF0778F6FE12B50ED9CE2645CAEF9

    “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

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