Parents who feed children a vegan diet may face prosecution under a proposed Italian law
Those who force a vegan diet on their children could potentially be put behind bars
Under a new proposed Italian law, parents could find themselves being prosecuted if they force feed their children vegan only food.
Elvira Savino, a member of centre-right party Forza Italia, has proposed legislation under which parents who give children aged 16 and under a "diet lacking essential elements for healthy growth" face up to two years of prison.
The MP argues that in the last few years, the belief that vegetarian and vegan diets bring benefits "has been spreading in Italy" and adults are entitled to choose that type of diet.
The MP also says that those under 16 need to be protected from "radicalised" parents who want to impose a restrictive diet that lack "essential elements needed for a healthy physical and cognitive development " on their children.
The proposal would see parents facing up to one year in prison for the basic offence. However, it could go up to two and a half years if the offence leads to a minor "getting permanently sick or hurt."
If the minor were to die as a result of the basic offence, parent may face up to six years of imprisonment.
The proposal follows high-profile cases of malnutrition brought on by veganism. For instance, last month a one-year-old boy in Milan raised on a strict vegan diet was removed from his parents’ custody after he was found to be severely malnourished, weighing just 5kg.
However, the Vegan Society, a U.K. based organisation promoting veganism, argues that this proposed Italian law is unnecessary.
“This [the Milan] case in Italy is an isolated incident and in no way gives an accurate representation of the health effects of a vegan diet. Malnutrition unfortunately is not uncommon— it affects over 3 million people in the U.K. The reason this story made headlines is due to misunderstanding about the vegan diet,”.
“According to the British Dietetic Association, vegan diets are suitable for any age and life-stage and include everything needed for optimal health,”.