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Italian Law Proposes Jail-Time for Parents Who Enforce Vegan Diets on Kids

 
Legislation proposed by Elvira Savino of the Forza Italia party would see parents who provide their children with an “inadequate” diet handed sentences of up to four years in jail. Savino says that parents who feed their kids a vegan diet would also be included in the legislation, since their children will lack iron, zinc and important vitamins for growth, and will suffer from neurological problems and anaemia if their malnutrition is severe.

The parliamentarian said that his law aims to “stigmatize the reckless and dangerous eating behavior imposed by parents” who pursue a vegan diet, “to the detriment of minors”. “For some years the belief has been spreading in Italy that a vegetarian diet results in significant health benefits. There is no objection if the person making this choice is an informed adult. A problem arises when children are involved.”

There have been four recent high-profile cases of malnourished children being removed from the care of their parents who had put them on a vegan diet.

In a notorious case that occurred last month, a 14-month-old boy from Milan was hospitalized with severe calcium deficiency, after it was found he weighed the same as a three-month-old child. 

Critics of the proposed law have argued there was a more pressing need to introduce legislation on tackling Italy’s childhood obesity problem. Only one per cent of Italy’s population is currently thought to pursue a vegan diet, while 30 percent of Italian children are obese. Among OECD countries, Italy has the second highest rate of overweight children behind Greece.

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