Italy moves to imprison parents who put kids on vegan diets

It’s tough to read this headline without immediately issuing a response of, “About time!” Of course, as with all things, there’s probably a bit more to consider than gut reactions. (Pardon the pun.) Following a series of incidents where children were hospitalized for various effects of malnutrition, a group of Italian lawmakers wants to make it a crime for parents to put their children on strict vegan diets. (Washington Post)

It may soon become a crime for Italian parents to keep their children from indulging in the country’s legendary meats and cheeses by restricting them to vegan options.

An Italian lawmaker proposed a bill last week that would punish parents with imprisonment for raising their children on “dangerous” vegan diets, which the legislation compares to domestic abuse.

“I have nothing against vegans or veganism as long as it is a free choice by adults,” the lawmaker, Elvira Savino of the conservative Forza Italia party, told Reuters 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.”

Offending parents could be sentenced to at least a year-long stint in jail for restricting their children to a vegan diet, according to the BBC. If the child becomes sick or injured because of the diet the sentence rises to four years and again to six years if the child dies.

It’s not as if they’re reacting to nothing here. A 14 month old baby was found weighing what a three month old should weigh after being raised vegan. A two year old wound up in intensive care and an eleven month old nearly died, all showing signs of what amounts to starvation. Now, it’s obviously possible for people – even children I suppose – to survive on a vegan diet if you’re exceptionally careful about balancing what you eat and making up for all the protein, iron and other requirements you’d normally get from animal products. So you can do it… but should you?

I’m with the Italian lawmakers quoted in the article when it comes to adults. We’re supposed to believe in personal responsibility for your own actions in a free society and if you’re an adult who wants to live on roots and twigs, feel free. But I definitely get nervous when I see growing children subjected to this sort of regimen. Even worse are the maniacs who decide to raise their pets as vegans. People are omnivores and are designed to process some plants along with animal products. Dogs and cats are carnivores. Just look at their teeth to find out. Frankly, I’d almost rather see a dog or cat in a shelter than in a house where they are being raised vegan.

As for the children, should we do that in America? Honestly I don’t think we could. Unless, of course, the kid winds up in the hospital from malnutrition. Then we can and should throw the book at the parents.