VEGETARIANISM came under attack in the high court yesterday during the McDonald's libel trial. Professor James Wheelock, a witness called by McDonald's and manager of Verner Wheelock Associates, a company which gives nutritional advice to the food industry claimed "Vegetarians may be endangering their health by not eating meat".
Professor James Wheelock, a witness called by McDonald's, told the two environmentalists accused of libelling the company in a leaflet: "You should criticise the people who advocate vegetarianism for young schoolgirls and not McDonald's ."
Referring to a study of 400 children carried out in west London in 1992, Professor Wheelock, who runs a company that gives nutritional advice to the food industry, claimed vegetarian schoolgirls suffered "three times the anaemia of non-vegetarian schoolgirls".
Helen Steel and Dave Morris, two environmentalists from Tottenham, north London, are accused by the fast food chain of writing, distributing and publishing a leaflet claiming the company is responsible for acts of environmental vandalism and for producing food which causes cancer and heart disease. They are defending themselves in the High Court action because they cannot afford legal fees.
The " McLibel Two" are defending themselves because they cannot afford the legal fees.
"You should criticise the people who advocate vegetarianism for young schoolgirls and not McDonald's ," he added.
Ms Steel criticised Professor Wheelock's reliance of one study of less than 400 schoolchildren. She also attacked studies, like the west London one, which were dependent on memory to reconstruct the children's average monthly diet.
She said the study also failed to distinguish between schoolgirls who were on diets and those who were vegetarians.
She also suggested that those who were anaemic may have been on a diet rather than being vegetarian. "Why are you placing heavy reliance on one study?" asked Ms Steel.
Professor Wheelock replied that it provided evidence consistent with his expectations.
The trial was adjourned until Monday.