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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Is Withholding Eggs for Vegetarians Reasons Ethical?

Generally, public leaders have the best interest of their people in mind. Especially when it comes to food.

Indian children eat a school meal
Indian children eat a school meal
Photo courtesy PBS News Hour
For example, the current Obama administration has been taking steps to more heavily monitor and control antibiotic use in livestock in the United States. As misplaced as this guidance is, because all meat is antibiotic-free due to strict adherence to withdrawal times and judicious use by farmers and ranchers, it’s still a conscious effort by public leaders to do what they believe is best for the nation’s citizens. I highly doubt that any U.S. President would deny healthful food to a malnourished population. That’s ludicrous, right?!

Well, apparently that thought process is not taking place in India. The Chief Minister of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, recently shot down a proposal to serve eggs in government run daycare centers. Why, you may ask?

The minister, whose name is Shivraj Chouhan, is a staunch vegetarian and lives in the state of Madhya Pradesh, which is mostly vegetarian along with and a few other Indian states. That’s fine – to each their own. However, the poorest – and most malnourished – Indians are generally not vegetarian. They would absolutely eat nutritious eggs if they could afford them.

If you’re thinking this is a trivial matter, you’re wrong. India’s free school lunch program, including the government-run daycare, reaches 120+ million Indian children. Providing these children with eggs could literally save their lives. In fact, when eggs are served in the free school lunch program and daycares, attendance actually increases! Those children aren’t getting enough sustenance at home but they can get it at school – double positive because then they are actually going to school.

Remember that eggs are an extremely good source of protein and nutrients. A large egg has about 80 calories but packs a big ole protein punch of 6 grams. Additionally, eggs are a good source of Vitamin D and Vitamin B-12. For a malnourished child, those nutrients are invaluable.

It all boils down to doing what is right, not what you want and unfortunately for some, those things don’t always align. I think its best summed up with this quote from Dipa Sinha, an economist at the Center for Equity Studies, when asked about the state of malnourished children and solving that problem:
“Every third Indian child is malnourished. The best interest of the child should be driving policy. I think this ban on eggs is a big setback.”
What do you think? Should politicians' personal beliefs be a reason to deny nutrition to children?
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
To read more about this issue, read this NPR piece.

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