a food/wine/marketing blog that is funny by accident, sarcastic on purpose.

teen eating disorders and vegetarianism?

I just read an article in today’s TIME magazine, titled: Study: Is Vegetarianism a Teen Eating Disorder? that really got under my skin.  After reading a blog post on the same article from Emily Brunell of relishments, I was even more irritated about the topic.  I became a vegetarian before I hit my teens and yes it was sudden.  Part of it had a lot to do with the fact that my mom has never been the best cook and once my parents got divorced when I was 12, I had to fend for myself when it came to an afternoon snack and sometimes dinner (without going into it too much, I lived equally with both my mom and dad and I must say they did a great job of raising me, they just are not “foodie” people).  Anyways, 15 years later, my family still thinks this is a stage in my life and my grandpa still asks me if I am out of my “phase.”

The first paragraph of this article is the truly insulting part:

Being a teenager means experimenting with foolish things like dyeing your hair purple or candy flipping or going door-to-door for a political party. Parents tend to overlook seemingly mild, earnest teen pursuits like joining the Sierra Club, but a new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that another common teen fad, vegetarianism, isn’t always healthy.

I am sorry, did they say that doing ecstasy is a normal part of being a teenager, but that becoming involved with an amazing charity and doing something good for the environment is something to be worried about?   This article goes beyond hinting that if you have a child that is a vegetarian that you should be worried, they flat out say it.

My reasoning for becoming a veggie simply was that I didn’t like the thought of eating something that used to be alive.  Now-a-days, kids have a lot more knowledge about the subject, along with a lot more options. They also have a lot more pressure to start looking “good” at a younger age.  So it isn’t the subject matter that really bothered me about the article, I think that eating disorders are something that affects almost every teenage girl and needs to be addressed.  It was the way that the TIME article seemed to spin this eating disorder “fad” really irritates me.  Also interesting is that the subjects they interviewed were all Minnesotans, if TIME magazine was going to write an article so in your face like this one, I wish they would have done a more broad study, not just a small sample of one state.  Especially a state where I have visited and gotten a lot of grief for my lifestyle choice of not eating meat.

It is an important subject, but I think Emily hit it on the head when they said “parents should pay attention to all lifestyle changes a teen makes.”  I am sure that sudden vegetarian isn’t the first sign of a problem.

4 responses

  1. Oh, boy, one more thing that I need to read so that I can make succint comments. From what you’ve written, let me tell you that I became a vegetarian when I was a teen and that was quite a while ago (more than 30+years). My parents were OK with it, as it was my choice and certainly one of the better choices I made as a teenager. I didn’t do it for my looks but because I felt better when following that type of diet, and wasn’t too thrilled with kind of bloody food on my plate almost nightly. Intuitively I knew that it wasn’t a good choice for me.

    My mom could cook but meat was the order of the day for everyone but me. One of my sisters eats mostly vegetarian and none are big meat eaters.

    I bet that there is more to the study, which I have sitting here in a pile of magazines and can read because I am a Registered Dietitian — a vegetarian Registered Dietitian (yes, we do exist). When I find out more, I might post. I am not quite at rant stage but getting there. Glad to know your opinion.

    April 7, 2009 at 12:02 pm

  2. I would love to hear your take on the whole study Jill. I didn’t mean to rant here, but being in the PR industry, I understand that some brands and journalists need to spin studies and words to prove their point. This is just yet another example of a journalist not taking the time to portray both sides.

    April 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm

  3. kainoa

    “My reasoning for becoming a veggie simply was that I didn’t like the thought of eating something that used to be alive. ”

    I’m fairly sure you meant things with eyes and ears, but for what it’s worth, almost everything we eat was “alive.”

    Except cookies.

    Anywho. The study is probably garbage… most studies are. That said, I don’t think that it was a “both sides” kind of piece. It just interpreted the numbers in a way that is slightly offensive, and not-so-slightly frustrating for those that… care.

    Just another writer trying to create a story. There are too many important things to read to pay attention to stuff like this.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm

  4. The journalist chose to only include most research that attempts to prove her point about vegetarians and the connection to binge eating. The study better be a lot longer and more in dept then what was said in the article…. and yes, while I agree their is more important things to read or pay attention to, this is a subject that is very near to my heart and I don’t like seeing another article blasting it. The same with the argument that everything grown in the ground has a face or was once alive.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:50 pm

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