A bill has been proposed to the Italian Parliament to jail parents who force their children to eat a vegan diet.
The legislation has been proposed by Elvira Savino of the centre-right Forza Italia party after the emergence of four high profile cases of children being submitted to hospital after having been fed a vegan diet.
Under the law, offenders would face a year in jail, rising to four if the child suffered a serious injury or illness and up to seven years if the child dies.
Ms Savino’s draft bill claims that the vegan diet is ‘devoid of essential elements for [childrens’] healthy and balanced growth’.
The politician personally stated that:
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.
Personalty, this legislation seems restrictive and narrow. I believe Ms Savino should be focusing on the wider issue by proposing a bill to tackle the issue of malnourishment among children, or giving classes on what a child needs to eat to be healthy, rather than banning a vegan diet that can arguably be very beneficial for both personal health and the planet.
Kailey, a third year English student who is raising her daughter Sylvia on a vegan diet, gave me her thoughts about the controversial bill. She told me that she completely disagreed with Ms Savino, and that you can get many of the nutrients needed to be healthy without eating animal products. In some cases it can be easier for the body to absorb some nutrients from plants.
She added that her daughter chose to be vegan, as she started out vegetarian, but moved to veganism to cure her eczema caused by cow’s milk. She also argued that the bill is narrow minded as it would punish parents who have fed their child a vegan diet even if the child suffers no harm.
What Italy should be concerned about is the neglectful treatment of some parents towards their children, and not the impact of veganism.