Italy proposes to jail vegans who impose diet on children

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Parents who restrict their children to a vegan diet could face a jail term if a controversial bill is passed by the Italian parliament.

Such parents, the draft bill claims, are imposing a diet “devoid of essential elements for [children’s] healthy and balanced growth”.

It has been proposed by Elvira Savino of the centre-right Forza Italia party.

It follows a number of high-profile Italian cases where malnourished children have been taken into care.

In four cases over the last 18 months, malnourished children were hospitalised in Italy after being fed a vegan diet.

However, dieticians such as the American Dietetic Association say vegan diets are suitable for children but advise that care needs to be taken to ensure children are receiving the full range of required nutrients – in particular vitamin B12.

Doctors speculated in some cases that the guardians of the hospitalised children may not have understood how to supplement a vegan diet to make it safe for children.

A vegan diet eliminates anything which originates from animals:

  • No meat, fish, animal fats or gelatine
  • No dairy products such as cow’s milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, goat’s or sheep’s milk
  • No eggs, nor foods containing eggs, such as most Quorn products
  • No honey

Ms Savino’s proposed bill will be discussed by parliamentary committees before going to the chamber for debate – probably later this year, reports Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, three rival bills are on the table – all aiming to make vegan and vegetarian options more commonplace in Italian canteens. BBC

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