Vegan parenting and media bias: same old, same old.


Oh look, what a surprise, yet anther article about how veganism kills babies (English article here).

A couple in a Amiens, France, is facing charges of neglect after their exclusively-breastfed, 11-month-old daughter, Louise, died of pneumonia and vitamin deficiency. Distrustful of Western medicine, the parents treated a 2007 case of bronchitis with cabbage poultices and camphor, and bathed their daughter with dirt. Both parents are facing up to 30 years in prison.

While the French article makes a point of saying that we shouldn’t confuse a “respectable lifestyle choice and human drama,” the English articles I have come across on the internet often do not make the same distinction. In fact, some of the articles even neglect to mention the bronchitis/pneumonia, which is recognised as playing a part in the death. Comments on these articles include such gems as “Poor kid… vegans are idiots to begin with,” and “Those idiots, here is a clue, mothers milk is an animal product. Cows are mammal’s so are humans. I feel so sorry for children of morons.”

Is anyone really surprised by this anymore? In T.O.F.U.’s last issue, our focus was on vegan parenting. Both Kelly Twomey and I spoke on the additional scrutiny vegan parents face, and stories like this just contribute to that hysteria. Among other issues that some news sources don’t mention is the fact that the child had an older sister – who is still alive and well – and that the family lived in a “run down” home. Ignoring economic context, the baby’s long battle with illness, and the parents’ reluctance to seek medical care frames veganism as the main element of Louise’s death… But this just isn’t the case (or at least, it’s not the whole case). The sensationalist headlines and blatantly anti-vegan spin represent a dishonest, incredibly biased form of journalism that I am, frankly, sick and tired of seeing. For those of use who are vegan parents raising healthy, happy children, this kind of coverage is a reminder that we will always have to defend ourselves and our children from a sea of status quo.

Not every media outlet is so blatantly biased, however. At the very least, this article from UPI makes a point of mentioning not only the bronchitis/pneumonia, but also the fact that the parents did manage to raise a 13 year old without any vitamin deficiencies. Why it is so difficult for most other media outlets to handle this story with an ounce of even-handedness, I don’t know. When Fox News is reporting with more journalistic integrity than you, you know you’ve got some issues to work out.

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  1. Kira wrote: Apr. 01, 2011

    Olivia, those are my thoughts exactly. What most people are missing in regards to this case is that the child died from advanced pneumonia and bronchitis. The prosecution is saying the mother’s diet MIGHT have had something to do with the child’s vitamin deficiencies, which MIGHT have made it more susceptible to infection… The case isn’t about veganism, it’s about neglectful parents who didn’t give their child proper medical care… But that’s not what’s being discussed in the mainstream media. You’re right, we are never just “a” vegan, but a representative of all vegans everywhere, a burden omnivores don’t have to face.

  2. Olivia wrote: Mar. 31, 2011

    I’m surprised you found french articles saying not to confuse this with respectifull choices! I’m french, and sick of ready how veganism kills. Now we also have loads of articles explaining how it’s impossible to be vegan and healthy. I guess I must be a ghost, then… or maybe I’m dead but haven’t realised yet?

    In a strange way, being vegan is a lot of responsabilities. If we screw up on something, then it’s always because we’re vegan. These parents should of taken their baby to the hospital, it needed care. I’m all for alternative medecins, but sometimes they’re just not enough. Veganism’s got nothing to do with a lung infection!

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