If parliamentarian Elvira Savino has her way, Italian parents who insist on a vegan diet for their children will risk up to four years in jail.
Savino, from the conservative Forza Italia party, has put forward a law that would hold parents legally responsible for feeding their children on “a diet devoid of elements essential for healthy and balanced growth”.
“I have nothing against vegans or veganism as long as it is a free choice by adults,” she said after presenting the law in the lower house Chamber of Deputies.
“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.
“Do-it-yourself on these matters terrorises me.”
Some paediatricians advise against feeding children on a vegan diet, which they say can lack sufficient nutrition.
The law proposes jail sentences of a year for raising a child on a vegan diet, up to four years if the child develops a permanent health problem, and up to seven years if the child dies as a result.
It would apply to children under 16 and penalties would increase by a year if the child is under three.
Last month in Milan, doctors determined that a one-year-old boy who was taken to a hospital had the weight of a three-month-old because of a vegan diet.
In 2015, a court ordered a divorced mother to stop raising her 12-year-old on a vegan diet after the boy’s father filed a complaint that it was stunting his growth.
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