Educating the educators


MarcThis is a letter that 12-year-old Marc Bernstein wrote to his Nutrition Class teacher.  The students were to keep a log of what they ate for a week.  The teacher responded that Marc needed meat and dairy milk. He wrote this letter to her in response.

Dear Mrs. X,

Thank you for caring about my health. I care about my health too. That’s why I’ve gone out of my way to learn even more about health than we ever learn here at school. I’ve talked to doctors and nutritionists. I’ve read books and articles and even been a journalist and had articles of my own published in a health and fitness magazine. That’s why I’m not happy with the comments you wrote on my health quiz. I really think you just want to help, but I think your own education taught you things that aren’t right, because you learned from teachers who learned things that aren’t right. Now, you’re trying to get me and my friends to learn things that aren’t right.

Just like some doctors still don’t know what’s right and tell their patients they should eat meat and drink cow’s milk, doctors used to tell their patients to smoke too. Just because a doctor says it, that doesn’t make it right. You’ve taught us, and you’re right that smoking is bad. That wasn’t always known by everyone, but it was still the truth. Another truth is that eating things from animals is not the best way for us to get our nutrients. Any animals that have any nutrients had to get them from somewhere; and they got them from plants. We can better receive our nutrients straight from the plants too. According to, “Americans eating meat-free diets average higher intakes of nearly every nutrient.”

You said that I need more protein in my diet. According to, “Somehow, everyone got the idea that we need exorbitant amounts of protein, way more than is even recommended.” Some people get too much protein. According to, “Excess protein has been linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract, and some cancers.” Even for the protein we need, we don’t need to get it from dead animals. I get loads of protein from the nuts, seeds, and beans I eat. I could even get enough protein from just the fruits and vegetables and whole grains I eat, as long as I get enough calories. Thank you for caring, but protein is not a problem with what I eat. I’m probably getting better protein for my body than anyone else in class.


You also said that I need to at least drink milk. If you look at my meals from the week, you’ll see that I do drink milk. I drink almond milk. I know that you meant that you think I need milk from cows, but that’s not necessary and it’s even harmful. It’s obviously harmful to the cows and the calves that were taken from them to make veal so we could drink their milk. But I know you’re not trying to care about the cow’s health here, but are trying to care about mine. Thank you for caring about me. I care about me and the animals too. Even if it wasn’t healthy for me physically to be vegan and not drink milk, I would still do it because I’d be more mentally and emotionally healthy by not hurting animals. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that since being vegan is not just better for the animals, but it’s better for us too. It’s better because producing vegan foods makes less pollution and is better for the earth which is better for us. And, still it’s even better that it’s better for the animals and better for the planet and better for our own physical body’s health too.

According to, “In a 12-year Harvard study of 78,000 women, those who drank milk three times a day actually broke more bones than women who rarely drank milk. Similarly, a 1994 study of elderly men and women in Sydney, Australia, showed that higher dairy product consumption was associated with increased fracture risk. Those with the highest dairy product consumption had approximately double the risk of hip fracture compared to those with the lowest consumption.” Yes, we all need some calcium. But when we get it from cow milk it hurts our bodies more than it helps. Calcium from plants is much better for us. I get my calcium from broccoli and spinach and whole wheat and sesame seeds and other stuff. Thank you for caring. Now I hope I can thank you for learning that I am getting all the nutrients I need, better than you realized, and probably better than the rest of the class.

I hope you see that I’m getting everything I need to be healthy. I’m not telling you what you have to do, but I hope you’re seeing that you can get everything you need for you to be healthy too and don’t have to hurt animals for it. You see, what’s best for the animals is also what’s best for us. Maybe that’s a coincidence, or maybe that’s part of the plan of the world. I like how it works that way. Everybody can win together. Not everybody realizes the truth yet, but even the government now knows the truth. According to the American Dietetic Association, “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropri-ate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” Now isn’t that great to know!

Thanks for caring and for listening too!



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