[Robertson County Times]

For 3-year-old Hunter Jones and his younger sister, Ronin, dinner may be a rice milk smoothie chock-full of baby spinach, frozen bananas and a dash of maple syrup, along with flaxseed and other healthy oils.

Don't worry that these young vegans aren't getting enough nutrients for their growing bodies, stay-at-home mom Mandy Jones said.

"I'm doing my kids a favor by giving them a head start in the world," Jones said. "They'll be less prone to heart disease and cancer."

Eating lots of fresh fruit, along with their daily vegan multivitamin, this brother and sister are the picture of health, rarely sick and keeping up with their meat-eating friends in height and weight, said Jones, 29, founder of a mom's group called Artsy Mamas.

Many medical professionals agree that raising your tots on a well-planned diet of fruits, vegetables, grains and beans can be healthy and safe.

The case of a vegan couple in Georgia who starved an infant to death should not convince people otherwise, said Dr. Rebecca Swan, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

"That was not a vegan issue. That was a nutritional issue," Swan said of the 6-week-old boy who wasted away to 31/2 pounds.

His parents fed him mostly soy milk and apple juice, according to news accounts.

That regimen is as harmful to a newborn as parents feeding an infant whole milk, Swan said. The couple was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month.

"A baby needs formula," the doctor said, noting that baby formula is fortified with proper vitamins and minerals. Fortified soy milk formula is available to parents who are keeping their babies off dairy.
One study of 404 vegetarian children at The Farm community in Summertown, Tenn., showed they were slightly shorter than their meat-eating peers from ages 1 to 3 but had caught up by age 10. A study of British children who were vegans showed they were actually taller than their meat-eating friends and weighed slightly less.

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