Threat of jail for vegan parents in Italy
Vegan parents threatened with jail
If you’re worried that feeding your kids the odd fast-food meal or letting them gorge on sugary snacks at the cinema might leave you open to allegations of bad parenting, spare a thought for Italian vegans who are coming under fire for failing to provide their children with the right kind of nutrition.
In a move that’s outraged many proponents of a vegan diet, the conservative Forza Italia party has proposed a new law that could punish parents who make their children follow a vegan lifestyle with jail time. Under proposals drawn up by Elvira Savino, mothers and fathers who insist their children maintain a diet with no animal products could risk up to four years in prison.
The right to a healthy diet
If passed, Savino’s law would hold parents legally responsible if they were to feed their children ‘a diet devoid of elements essential for healthy and balanced growth’. How children’s intake would be monitored hasn’t been detailed.
‘I have nothing against vegans or veganism as long as it is a free choice by adults,’ Savino told Reuters in a telephone interview shortly after she presented the draft proposal in the Italian 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.’
Protecting children from extremes
Savino herself has a seven-year-old son who reportedly eats meat ‘but not too much’, according to the politician. She said she was persuaded to propose the new law after being moved by a number of recent incidents in Italy which sparked public concern over some parents’ strict control of their children’s diets.
Just last month in Milan, doctors discovered that the weight of a one-year-old boy who was admitted to a hospital was comparable to a normal three-month-old, due to his parents’ adherence to a vegan diet. And in 2015, an Italian court ordered a divorced mother to give her 12-year-old son a more varied diet after his father filed a complaint that the vegan diet he was following was stunting his growth.
‘If even only one child ends up in a hospital because of this behaviour, I feel we have to protect them all,’ said Savino. The draft will be discussed by parliamentary committees before it is debated later this year.
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