An Italian politician wants parents who impose a vegan diet on their children to face a prison sentence of four years.
While the United Nations (UN) did release a report in 2010 deeming plant-based vegan (contain no animal products) diets to be optimal for the environment and beneficial for health, there are ways one might ‘fail’ at eating vegan and, in effect, harm their own health and, most importantly, the health of the young ones they are raising.
Of course, there are people who do thrive as vegetarian and vegan eaters. Basically, it’s essential one includes an array of nutrient-dense foods and supplements with sources of K2 (natto), D3 (the sun or liquid supplement), and B vitamins (supplements or nutritional yeast) to meet nutritional needs. If done correctly, a vegan diet can be beneficial, just as a diet that contains meat and eschews refined sugar, grains containing gluten (granted, controversial), artificial sweeteners, preservatives, antibiotics and hormones can support one’s best health.
Unfortunately, Italy recently dealt with a case of veganism gone bad. The Independent reports that in July, a 14-month-old baby was removed from his vegan parents after his grandparents rushed him to the hospital and doctors declared him to be suffering from severe undernourishment. Reportedly, he had been ‘forced’ to eat a vegan diet and had calcium levels barely adequate to survive.
One month later, the world is witnessing the repercussions of that case. New legislation proposed by Elvira Savino of the Forza Italia party aims to see parents put in jail for four years if they provide “inadequate” diets for their children.
This means that those who are staunch vegans and refuse to feed their kids meat, eggs, and dairy – whether it be due to ethics or health beliefs – could soon serve jail time. Savino says that parents should be criminally liable if the diet they fed their children leads to deficiencies in iron, zinc and important vitamins for growth. She says these nutritional deficiencies can cause neurological problems and anemia, therefore, should be taken very seriously.
The 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, even in the rigid form of a vegan diet, results in significant health benefits,” Savino said.
“There is no objection if the person making this choice is an informed adult. A problem arises when children are involved.”
The controversial topic is not an easy one to debate. First of all, it is just as likely that a child raised on fast-food meals (pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, refined sugars, low-quality fats, by-products of animals) and few fresh fruits or vegetables will develop some form of nutritional deficiency, as well as a predisposition to obesity and diabetes.
Of course, it should also be noted that within the past 18 months, five children have been hospitalized because of their vegan diets. And in 2015, an Italian court ordered a vegetarian mother to cook meat for her 11-month-old baby after the woman’s ex-husband complained about the child’s diet, relays Distractify.
Is this bold legislation really the answer? Or should more effort be funneled into educating parents on the basics of adequate nutrition for their children – dietary dogma aside?
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