09/14/11 Vegan Diet and Sects on Television

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Dear Sir or Madam,

We are writing to you regarding the feature about sects and organizations on your television show "Hrvatska uzivo" which was broadcasted on September 7, 2011 .

After the show we had a lot of telephone calls and E-mail messages from bitter viewers who were complaining how vegetarian and vegan diet, especially concerning children, was put under the term sect and how this information is at least worrying and completely inaccurate. The outline of the story on "harmful" diet was the death of a baby boy (aged 10 months) in Slovenia which was connected to alleged parents vegan diet and a certain sect. Regarding this unfortunate incident we have made a reaction by sending a report to PhD Sanja Kolacek, head of Children's Hospital Zagreb in Klaiceva Street. We want to stress how the information about this death was delivered, especially by nutritionist Dora Babic who got her way into the media thanks to this; it was neither credible nor correct. What they told were only assumptions and sensational accusations towards vegan diet.

Furthermore, nutritionist Dora Babic showed lack of expertise with her statement that vegetarians are "the ones who don't eat red meat" which was more than embarrassing. As a national television, you have the obligation to present verified and professional information. This feature showed miserable education and preparation of all participants who were discussing a very complex and serious subject. Not to mention the generalisation of all people who lead their life in spiritual way and the ones who practice vegan/vegetarian diet as members of sects which can only lead to dangerous judgements and harm people who practise spiritual techniques and/or have diet based on vegetables. Being subjective and expressing opinion about one's diet, referring to vegetarianism/veganism as something connected to sects is nothing else but violation of basic human rights and discrimination. This feature excluded objectivity and other competent experts.

As an organization which promotes vegan diet as a healthy way of life for people of all ages, we believe it is of great importance that information brought to people, regarding vegan diet, is objective, scientifically based, not exaggerated and loose because parents and their children as well as individuals who practice vegan diet are harmed. Vegan and vegetarian diet is old news, not even considered alternative and to prove that we can name individuals who have lived as vegans/vegetarians – Pitagora, Plutarch, Leonardo da Vinci, Tolstoy, Kafka, Ghandi and many of our contemporaries.

Classifying veganism as some kind of sect and telling that it is life threatening is offensive to 160,000 vegetarians and vegans that live in Croatia for many of them switched to vegan diet for that very reason – health. It is beyond understanding how vegans and vegetarians have to put up with such accusations and "attacks" on national television in a country that aspires to democracy, in a world that aspires to civilized behavior. We are aware that throughout history everything that wasn't a part of a social structure got judged, criticized and aroused controversy. And this is the very reason why vegan diet should be talked about without judgment and accusation, particularly in 21st century.

We would like to highlight the main problem - lack of education about vegan diet (specifically: nutritionists) which was very obvious in your feature. It is important that television broadcasts shows in which experts can give information on vegan/vegetarian diet in a comprehensive and professional manner. It is a way of education for ever growing population of people in Croatia and worldwide who practice vegan/vegetarian diet, not to mention a way of education for nutritionists and other citizens who should also be informed. Instead of shallowly presented information, non expert statements and accusations against people whose diet is based on vegetables, one should watch shows that present vegetarian/vegan diet in an appropriate way.

Among vegetarians in Croatia there are people of different occupations, atheists, followers of various religions and their choice to become vegetarians was based on health issues, ethics and/or ecological reasons. Prominent and well educated individuals and institutions recommend vegetarian/vegan diet in a favour of ecology and sustainable development of our planet. Ethical reasons are associated with compassion towards living beings and a sense of right and wrong, not religion or religious beliefs while health organizations approve vegan/vegetarian diet when health becomes an issue.

The population of vegans and vegetarians grows by a minute; therefore, the topic on that matter is worth talking about and mentioning it in the media but not as they were fanatics or some kind of sect yet as individuals who try to have a healthy and ethical diet as well as their children. Media space has to be at a service for vegetarian and vegan topics so people who are vegetarians or want to become one or simply want the information, can learn about it in a way that is interesting, educational, accessible and informative. It is also important because well educated people, experts, do not know who vegetarians are or what they eat and not knowing or ignoring information can lead to intolerance.

We would like to invite you to collaboration and informing about mentioned subject (vegan/vegetarian diet). We have a lot of ideas for constructive and informative features on that topic which would be interesting for the audience and could help widen tolerance and accepting differences among people and their positive efforts. Please contact us if you have any questions. We kindly thank you for your interest.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

Luka Oman

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