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.