A politician in Italy is calling to implement a law that could see parents charged for giving their children a vegan diet.
Elivra Savino, the deputy leader of the Forza Italia party has proposed that parents could be jailed for up to six years for giving children aged 16 years and under an inadequate diet. She argues it can lead to a deficiency in zinc, iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and omega-3.
I just find it absurd that some parents are allowed to impose their will on children.
“I have nothing against vegans or veganism as long as it is a free choice by adults,” Savino told Reuters on Wednesday. “I just find it absurd that some parents are allowed to impose their will on children in an almost fanatical, religious way, often without proper scientific knowledge or medical consultation.”
According to the draft bill, which is yet to go to the floor for debate, Salvino aims to “stigmatise the reckless and dangerous eating behaviour imposed by parents.” The bill reads, “these children are literally underfed, put in mortal danger from unwary parents who have decided to follow a philosophical movement.”
The proposed bill would see a one-year prison sentence imposed for a basic offence, though this would increase if the child was aged under three. If a child became sick or injured as a result of malnutrition, parents could be jailed for up to four years, and up to six years if it resulted in death.
These children are literally underfed.
Vegans follow a diet free of animal products, including eggs, dairy, honey or meat and fish. According to the Victorian State Government’s Better Health Channel, while very young children and babies should not eat a strict vegetarian diets, it can be a nutritious alternative to meat in healthy children. Parents must ensure children receive enough protein alternatives such as nuts, legumes and tofu; sustainable fats from non-meat sources; vitamin b12; iron and vitamin D and calcium (such as soy milk fortified with added calcium).
This isn’t the first time the Italian authorities have intervened in its citizen’s vegan choices. Last month, a one-year-old boy in Milan was removed from his parents by authorities after a vegan diet left him weighting just five kilos.
Find out more at SBS Australia's Italian program.