"If you're talking about feeding young children and pregnant women and lactating women I would go as far as to say it is unethical to withhold these foods during that period of life," she said. "There's a lot of empirical research that will show the very adverse effects on child development of doing that."This experiment seems pretty useless as an indicator of anything except the dietary needs of children in Kenya. Most of the time when you talk about vegetarianism in the United States, the diet is more varied than just "starchy, low-nutrition corn and bean staples" -- every vegetarian I know likes fresh vegetables, for example, and most are careful to include proteins (pulses!) of different kinds in their diets.
Prof Allen made the claims after her research showed that adding just two spoonfuls of meat to the daily diet of poverty-stricken children in Africa transformed them physically and mentally. Over two years the children almost doubled their muscle development, and showed dramatic improvements in mental skills. They also became more active, talkative and playful at school.
The African study involved 544 children in Kenya, typically aged about seven, whose diet chiefly consists of starchy, low-nutrition corn and bean staples lacking these micronutrients. Over a period of two years, one group of the children was given a daily supplement of two ounces of meat. Two other groups received a cup of milk a day or an oil supplement containing the same amount of energy. A fourth group ate their normal diet.
Also, it makes me wonder about cultures that are traditionally vegetarian. I know a goodly number of whip-smart Indians who haven't eaten two ounces of meat in their whole lives. Are they experiencing the same adverse effects? Maybe some research on the effects of different vegetarian diets (Kenyan vs Indian, vegan vs vegetarian) is in order...