I respect the choice of an adult to make such a decision, but no baby or growing child should be forced to adopt a vegan diet. I recently read an article in which actress Jenna Dewan said of her daughter,

”She eats fruits and veggies and nothing else.”

Nothing else? Where is this baby going to get her EPA and DHA? What about healthy fats in general? What about vitamin A (retinol)? What about B12? Babies have died from vitamin A and B12 deficiency!

To be clear, I don’t believe that any parent who feeds their child a vegan diet is intentionally hurting them, or even aware of the dangers associated with feed a baby a plant based diet. That’s exactly why I wanted to write this article, to raise awareness. As a society we often equate a vegan diet with health,  while vilifying animal products. Unfortunately, a vegan diet is not synonymous with health, and there are very real dangers associated with it.

In doing research for this article, I found out that several babies have died due to a vegan diet. This needs to be talked about. Please read this article before continuing. I doubt that any of these parents intentionally harmed their children. I doubt any of them thought they were doing something wrong. I have to assume that parents feed their children plant based diets because they think it’s a healthier option. By no means do I think it’s intentional. But when children are dying, when a 12 year-old girl has the spine of an 80 year-old woman, we need to address this very serious issue.

We consider women who drink, smoke and do drugs while pregnant to be abusing their children. At what point will we address the role of diet in a healthy pregnancy? When cancer, diabetes (types 1 and 2), heart disease and childhood obesity are on the rise, we need to take action. We need to let people know that this behavior is dangerous. It’s not okay to smoke and drink while pregnant, so why is it okay to eat terribly? The consequences are equally as dire.

The problem with vegan pregnancies and babies, is that this diet is considered healthy by most people’s standards. People don’t realize that a vegan diet eliminates several extremely important vitamins and the healthy fats that are required to grow a healthy child.

The Natural Hygiene Society compiled a list of babies who died from either being fed a vegan diet, or died from being fed breast milk from a vegan mother. The fact that there is a list of children who have died solely from nutrient deficiencies and starvation is beyond upsetting. In fact, it pisses me off. How can this diet continually be touted as safe, as a healthy alternative, when it literally kills children?

At what point do we say: okay, maybe these parents didn’t just go about their diet the wrong way. Maybe the diet is inherently flawed.

Let’s explore what is necessary to grow a healthy human that is lacking from a vegan diet.


There are no plants based forms of vitamin B12. B12 is produced in the gut of animals and it is literally impossible to obtain from plants (they do not store it).

From The Department of Pediatrics at University of Maryland,

Most of the initial data regarding vitamin B12 deficiency in infancy are from case studies of infants exclusively breastfed by mothers on vegan, vegetarian, or lacto-ovo vegetarian diets. Several authors have described developmental retardation and “infant tremor syndrome” in 4- to 11-month-old infants of vegetarian mothers from India [78]. Four case studies from the United States described lethargy, irritability, and developmental delay among exclusively breastfed infants (ages 6 to 10 months) of vegan or vegetarian mothers [912]. Restoration of developmental skills after therapy was variable, with at least two cases reporting ongoing delays [912], and one reporting developmental recovery [11]. Similar cases have been reported from Europe [1317]. Again, the infants displayed delayed motor skills, along with lethargy, and were exclusively breastfed by mothers who were vegan or lacto-ovo vegetarian. After therapy, recovery was variable, with some children remaining moderately or severely retarded [13,1719].

B12 deficiency in a growing child can lead to permanent mental retardation, neurological disorders, tremors, stunted growth, delayed cognitive development and cerebral atrophy. According to doctors from McGill University,

Plant foods are not a high-quality source of vitamin B12. Thus, it is not surprising that studies have shown low serum concentrations of vitamin B12 in children on vegan and macrobiotic diets without supplementation (4). Vitamin B12 deficiency is not a benign condition; it may lead to megaloblastic anemia and neurological disorders. Mild vitamin B12 deficiency in infancy, with or without hematological signs of deficiency, may be associated with impaired cognitive performance in adolescence, specifically, fluid intelligence (which involves reasoning, the capacity to solve complex problems, abstract thinking ability and the ability to learn), spatial ability and short-term memory (17). Moreover, lack of cobalamin may lead to long-term neurological disorders in infants and toddlers fed vegetarian diets (18). In addition, recent data indicate that the adverse effects of cobalamin deficiency in the macrobiotic community may not be restricted to just early childhood, but may also cause symptoms related to impaired cobalamin status later in life. Even a change to a lacto-ovo-vegetarian or omnivorous diet at six years of age is not sufficient to restore normal cobalamin status in previously strict macrobiotic adolescents (19).

The best forms of B12 are grass-fed beef, seafood, liver, pastured egg yolks and raw dairy.

Vitamin A (Retinol)

Most people think that vitamin A can be obtained from orange colored veggies like carrots, pumpkin and squash. The truth is that these veggies contain the precursor to Vitamin A: beta carotene. True vitamin A is retinol, and only a very small percentage of beta carotene can be effectively converted to retinol. In children, this conversion is nearly impossible.

Vitamin A deficiency leads to impaired eyesight, increases susceptibility to infection, impaired cell growth, and when combined with vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to death.

The foods highest in REAL vitamin A are cod liver oil, liver, grass-fed beef, oily fish and raw dairy products.


There are two types of iron: heme and non-heme. Heme is easily adsorbed and assimilated and comes from food like grass-fed beef.

Symptoms of iron deficiency include irritability, loss of appetite (which is crucial for babies), pale skin, brittle nails, weakness and overall lethargy.

Vitamin D

Adequate amounts of vitamin D are critical for pregnancy and for growing children. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to:

  • tooth delay and decay
  • neurological disorders including seizures
  • rickets
  • soft bones, bone deficiencies, eventually osteoporosis
  • increased susceptibility to infection
  • respiratory disorders
  • irritability, agression and depression
  • rickets
  • poor growth
  • muscle spasms
  • diabetes
  • cancer

The best forms of vitamin D are from cod liver oil, oily seafood, liver and pastured egg yolks.

This 12 year-old girl was admitted to a hospital, suffering from severe vitamin D deficiency. She had the spine of an 80 year-old woman and was forced to be vegan from birth.


EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are omega-3 fatty acids. Many people assume that sufficient omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from vegan sources – like flax and chia. This is not correct. Flax and chia are rich in ALA (alpha-linoleic acid); ALA is not as beneficial to the brain or to development. Furthermore, babies cannot convert ALA into DHA.

From the American Society for Nutrition,

Synthesis of DHA and EPA occurs in phytoplankton and animals, but not plants. DHA and EPA are absent from all vegetable fats and oils, including nuts, grains, and seeds and are also very low in ruminant fats, including milk and dairy products. The richest dietary sources are fish and sea foods, but poultry and eggs provide lower, but important, sources of EPA and DHA (4).

DHA and EPA are particularly important during the first six months of life. Adequate intake of EPA and DHA are necessary for proper brain, nervous system and cognitive development.

A lack of these beneficial omega-3 fatty acids can lead to:

  • depression, anxiety, irritability
  • cognitive impairment
  • cardiovascular disorders
  • neurological abnormalities
  • autism
  • autoimmune disease
  • cancer


Babies need fat! Roughly half of our cell membranes are made of saturated fat. Over 60% of the brain is fat. If a baby is not getting adequate amounts of fat during this crucial growth period, the baby’s health will undoubtedly suffer.

Healthy fats are rich in vitamins (the fat soluble vitamins are A, E, D and K). Some example of healthy fats are grass-fed butter, pastured egg yolks, wild fish, cod liver oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil.  You may have noticed that the above nutrients are mostly found in liver, grass-fed meats, wild seafood, pastured egg yolks and cod liver oil. This isn’t a coincidence. These are the healthiest foods on the planet. Traditional cultures considered them “sacred foods” and they were specifically reserved for parents trying to conceive, pregnant women and growing children.

There has never, ever been a vegan culture. At no point in history have parents limited their children’s diet to plant based foods. Traditional cultures have a wisdom that we’ve forgotten, or just ignored.

The common argument to this is, “I’ve seen vegan mothers raise healthy vegan babies.” Well, I bet you’ve seen a lot more mothers feed themselves and their children complete junk, but the children seem to be healthy all the same. The truth is that there has never been a vegan culture, and there has never been several consecutive generations of vegans. Like I said at the beginning of this article, I respect the dietary choices of any adult, but I cannot accept a diet that has killed babies.

I know that this article will not be well received by some people; I know that it will be called “sensationalism.” And honestly, I don’t care. Call it what you want, but children have died because of this misguided diet. If I can promote discussion of the topic, or educate a mother who may have otherwise adopted a vegan diet, then I’ve done my job. This needs to be talked about. People need to recognize that veganism is extremely dangerous for children.

Please leave your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree, in the comments section below.















  1. I considered myself very knowledgeable about nutrition, but this article blew me away. Thank you for including sources, for that reason alone this shouldn’t be considered “sensationalism”.
    Fat is essential for neurological development, whether it is the brain, the spine, or nerves. What if someone who touted themselves as vegan were to make an exception while pregnant to take something like Fish Oil or Krill Oil to get these essential fats?
    I am not vegan, but I do understand why people are. Religion and animal empathy. Would taking something like Fish Oil even be “allowed” in their restricted diet? Is there any kind of solution that doesn’t include a vegan to change their lifestyle? I think asking a vegan to take something like Fish Oil while conceiving or carrying would go over better than asking them to change their diet.
    Whatever the solution IS, thank you for sharing this information.

    • dani stout Reply

      I think it would be great for a pregnant woman to add cod liver oil to her diet, it would definitely be beneficial for both mama and baby. Everyone is different, I’m sure some vegans would be okay with additional supplement, some wouldn’t be. Either way, it would definitely be a welcome additions.

      Thanks for the very sweet comment!

    • Hi Stephanie,

      DHA can be obtained from algae, which is where fish get it in the first place. If you don’t sunbathe regularly, mushrooms are high in vitamin D and you can obtain D3 supplements extracted from mushrooms. All B12 is originally synthesized by microorganisms. It’s easy to find vegan foods fortified with it, or you can supplement separately.

      I hope this answers some of your questions about supplementation on the vegan diet.

      Here are specific links to products I use/have used:

      • dani stout Reply

        So you recommend supplementing a baby with synthetic DHA and vitamins D and B12? Really?

        • As far as I know it is already recommended that any babies who are breastfed receive a D3 supplement. I would suggest that the mother take appropriate supplements while pregnant and breastfeeding, breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months and as long as reasonably possible after that. I don’t think it sounds unreasonable for an older baby or a young child to be given vitamins and supplements provided that the parents have consulted a physician about the correct usage and dose.

          • To clarify, I meant to say that one should breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months, then continue to breastfeed in addition to feeding solid foods.

          • dani stout

            If the mother isn’t eating a nutrient depleted diet and is supplementing with food-based supplements, there is no need for babies to take a synthetic D3 supplement, which they can’t effectively absorb anyway, nor can a six month old effectively absorb supplements. I’m thankful that when I breastfeed I will be able to properly nourish my child and will not give them the disadvantage of having to supplement.

      • You can’t out supplement a bad diet. By not eating certain necessary foods and depending on supplementation, that’s also assuming we know all of the vitamins and minerals that exist that we need and the cofactors needed for proper absorption. And you would need about 51 gallons of mushrooms a day to meet your body’s vitamin D requirements.

  2. I want to say my family is not vegan, even though I convinced it is the healthiest diet you can have.
    I’m going to say I think this article is very incomplete. Give a few examples of deaths and not true number to the amount of death attributed to vegan diet. You don’t know what really happened in those homes. We don’t know if those family used any supplements. Did the parents do their research before just try to adopt that life style? Or did they just jump in with out any education and feed the kids potatoes for every meal? It is really hard to know that. I real vegan works at having a real balance and is aware of what areas they need to supplement.
    All the books I have read about plant based diet tell you that you need to supplement B12. That is naturally occurring in dirt and you need to add it (the vitamin, not dirt) to your diet.
    When it comes to iron, I have seem proof of the exact opposite, that we only properly digest plant-based iron and not from an animal source.
    As for fat, you list several that are plant based and completely acceptable and that we use on a regular bases.
    Now, these are the things I know off the top of my head. To comment on vitamin A or the omega properly would require more research on my part.
    I don’t know about other trying to live more naturally, but government sources of information don’t weigh very heavily with me because, at least in the U.S., they seems to have special interests at heart and not the truth. If you could find more sources that were not from government agencies, I think that would help the case your trying to present.

  3. Wannabebealthy Reply

    Wouldn’t adding a raw multivitamin be enough?

    We’ve adapted a clean eating lifestyle, however we try to to supplement with multivitamins, probiotics, and vitamin D. We haven’t added in DHA just yet. It’s taken us quite a bit of $$$ to add to our supply for a family of 6.

    Also, grass feed beef is not available to us, we’d have to mail order it and it’s pretty pricey.

    • dani stout Reply

      Unfortunately it’s not. Multivitamins are poorly absorbed and are usually synthetic and may also contain GMOs.

    • dani stout Reply

      That link is literally ridiculous. They recommend canola oil as a source of omega-3s, which proves whoever wrote it is either idiotic or completely ignorant.

      And there’s a reason a reason vegetarian and vegan Indians have the one of the highest rates of CAD: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11265799

  4. Man! You are really unafraid. I’ve been told I’m outspoken and overly blunt-its probably why I like your approach. I find it so refreshing that you don’t even try to sugar coat things or omit hot topics like vaccines. I enjoy reading all your “controversial” articles as much as the others. I am always delighted that you tell it like it is-though I know so many times you have people disagreeing with you…I always tend to agree with your standpoints… so they most definitely must be wrong-huh?

    Anyway, I love that as I read, I found that my husband, kid and I eat every thing on the lists of “good sources” of each vitamin. I feel vindicated in my ridiculous amounts of research, gross out supplement taking (I eat raw, local grass fed liver during pregnancy) and expenditures to keep my family well fed/nutritionally powered.

    Thank you for the article. I hope some vegans read it. I know several vegans who don’t require their children to eat the same way they do-their kids are Paleo (which still sucks because dairy is out)…But I applaud their decision to be flexible and open minded.

    • dani stout Reply

      Thank you! And you sound like an awesome mama! Most people are grossed out by liver!

  5. Dani, this is such a great article – thank you! Clearly a vegan diet is not the nutrient-dense, body nourishing diet that children need. It’s just heartbreaking to see parents that are trying to do right by their children essentially end up starving them.

    Many people who buy into the pop-culture fad of veganism fail to realize the lack of necessary nutrients available in that diet – to me the fact that they need to add supplements in order to get all the nutrients their body needs clearly indicates that a vegan diet is incomplete. Babies and children pay the ultimate price because their little bodies are still forming, and don’t have nutritional stores to draw from to protect themselves from this horrendous diet.

    • I don’t think it’s fair to say that veganism is a fad. It’s been around in some cultures and religions for quite some time. Others adopt this eating behavior for ethical reasons.

      • dani stout Reply

        True, but when you consider how long humans have been around and ancestral diets – veganism is very, very young.

  6. All I have to say is that your friend’s description of a vegan diet is lame. “he eats fruits and veggies and nothing else.”
    That’s not veganism. At all. Vegans eat everything except meat and meat by-products and sometimes honey. Just fruit and vegetables is, of course, a ridiculous way to nourish a baby.
    Maybe your friend wasn’t thinking when she spoke. But a healthy, balanced vegan diet can absolutely nourish a baby.
    And calling it child abuse is shameful. Yes, a fruit and vegetable diet is unhealthy and poorly informed. But sweeping that giant brush o’ generalization across to hit all parents who happen to live as vegans and raise their children this way is awful and irresponsible.

    • dani stout Reply

      I’m not sure which friend you’re referring to, I did not refer to a friend’s description of veganism in this article.

      I do not think feeding your child a vegan diet is child abuse and I’ll definitely revise this. That being said, it doesn’t take away from the fact that vegan diets are dangerous for babies, which was the whole point of this article. I want to highlight the dangers of veganism for babies, not that it’s child abuse.

      • So are you saying that you can not have/raise a healthy baby on a vegan diet?

        • dani stout Reply

          A vegan diet? There will be problems; if not in the child, then in future generations.

  7. I don’t believe that vegan diets provide optimal nourishment for children. And, it is true, that in some cases vegan diets have contributed to incredibly ill children with rickets, and there’s a handful of cases of babies who have died as a result of an extreme approach to veganism.

    That said, I think it’s grossly irresponsible, inflammatory and ridiculous to equate feeding children a vegan diet with child abuse.

    This is child abuse: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/texas-couple-starved-5-year-old-son-locked-stairway-closet-police-article-1.1741035.

    This is child abuse: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/police-tampa-mom-starved-tortured-teens-over-eight-years/2172364

    This is child abuse: http://www.ksbw.com/news/new-charges-filed-against-couple-in-child-neglect-case/25188072

    Feeding a child a vegan diet, which undoubtedly comes from a place of love, is not child abuse.

    • dani stout Reply

      You know, I was really heated when I wrote this and that child abuse part does need revision. Mind you, I also clearly stated,

      “I doubt that any of these parents intentionally harmed their children. I doubt any of them thought they were doing something wrong. I have to assume that parents feed their children plant based diets because they thought it was a healthier option. By no means do I think it’s intentional child abuse.”

      I do not think feeding your child a vegan diet is child abuse and I’ll definitely revise this. That being said, it doesn’t take away from the fact that vegan diets are dangerous for babies, which was the whole point of this article. I don’t think that part is irresponsible, inflammatory or ridiculous. I want to highlight the dangers of veganism for babies, not that it’s child abuse.

      Thanks for bringing this to my attention. As someone who was abused as a child, I recognize how insensitive and inaccurate this is.

  8. While I feel like you address a lot of valid concerns regarding a lack of nutrients in a vegan diet, I find the article you linked regarding the death of infants from consuming vegan diets a little one sided. Any informed vegan would realize that soy milk and apple juice will not provide sufficient nutrients for a baby or adult for that matter. Yes this would technically be considered a vegan diet, but it’s unfair to conclude from this case that ALL vegan diets would have the same results. This would be the same as feeding a child only pork (which we know is also not sufficient nutrients) and saying their death was because they were fed a meat eating diet. We can conclude that the baby died of nutrition deficiency and strictly consuming soy milk and apple juice will not provide adequate nutrition, but not that all vegan diets will lead to death or developmental problems.

    This article has definitely enticed me to do more research, which is what I think your intention was, so the article is appreciated even if I don’t agree with everything you’ve put out there.

    • dani stout Reply

      Unfortunately that was one instance. A baby also died due to lack of B12 when being breastfed by a vegan mother. That’s all too common a deficiency in vegans.

  9. I understand your fears but a lot of the information is really misplaced. As vegans reading this is insulting because we always see the same articles which blame veganism, fact is those parents fed either themselves or their baby a restrictive diet which is unhealthy any way you take it. I have read all the vegan baby deaths and not one proved how veganism killed it was parent stupidity, like the mom eating completely raw and starving herself (which was the one deficient in vitamin a and b12). The China study and many indian, african and even vegan cultures in the U.S. have led to generations of healthy children check out Nutritionfacts.org. Check out John Macdougall, Pcrm as proof about the health even for babies. So all the articles on the nutrients showed nothing about vegan children lacking them and we researched thoroughly making sure it is healthy before embarking. So firstly the article on DHA showed how women convert more ala to aha, and just one tablespoon of flax or watermelon seeds contains adequate omega 3s, now yes more than that on a daily basis is needed, but once again all fruits, veggies contain lots. There are tribes out there that used coconut as breastmilk supplement if moms couldn’t breastfeed, we don’t recommend that but it shows the health of the coconut but we do believe more is needed. As mentioned earlier mushrooms have vitamin d, same as the sun which is still widely considered the best form. Vitamin b12 is a microorganism in the soil do the research on it, and thanks to sanitations and cleaning we now need to supplement and also there are multiple mothers who eat meat lacking b12 and hurting their children, so supplementation is needed for that nutrient only. Mushrooms again has it but miniscule. DHA is you want to make sure you get it, spirulina, algae and seaweed are the main sources which a comment earlier stated as well. Vitamin a beta carotene does convert when consumed enough retinol activity vitamin a which sweet potatoes are hugely abundant in. Nutritionfacts.org even showed proof how our paleo ancestors consumed a mostly vegan diet by examining fossilized poop. They found that we ate mostly grains which we cooked and led to more developed brains, fruits and vegetables, the meat we ate was mostly to not starve. The only area that has ever had protein deficiency was in under developed cultures which was due to starvation. It was not protein deficiency but a calorie deficiency. You can check out our channel DK Vegan Family on youtube and the_vegan_family on instagram to see what we often eat and how healthy our baby looks and yes we get her checked regularly by a doctor. We recommend anyone embarking on a vegan diet to eat enough calories and variety minimum 2100 calories. Fruits, veggies, starches, healthy fats and fortified b12 products.

  10. I am with Kristi. I am vegan now and have been for years now ( I am 29 ) and I will feed my children a vegan diet when I get them, guided by my nutritionist. My husband and I both want it. I have seen enough studies proving it is healthy and I would definitely feel sick if I had to force a meat diet to my child, or take a dead fish pill…. I want the absolute best for them. I see it as smoking, they can decide to start smoking/eat meat when they are older, I would be sad for their health, yes. But by then it’s their personal choice. 🙂

    English is not my native language by the way, so I am sorry if the sentences sound a bit odd.

    • dani Reply

      That’s okay! I do implore you to look further into it – there are nutrients that ONLY can be obtained from animals food that’d you’d be depriving your children from. This will affect them for the rest of their lives.

      As a mother, I’m asking you to PLEASE do more research, unbiased research that doesn’t come from vegan sources – you will find that it’s not possible to feed babies and growing children a diet that meets all their needs from plant based foods alone.

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