Parents who feed children vegan diet face prosecution under proposed Italian law

Centre-right MP says he wants statute aimed at protecting children from diets that can leave them lacking in iron and other vitamins

An Italian legislator is calling for statutes that would assure parents prosecuted for imposing vegan diets and other reckless and dangerous eating behavour on their children.

Elvira Savino, the deputy of the centre-right Forza Italia party, has proposed legislation that would see parents who give their children aged 16 and under an inadequate diet sentenced to up to six years in prison.

Known as the Savino law, it aims to stigmatise the reckless and dangerous feeing behaviour imposed by mothers … to the detriment of minors, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

It encompassed vegan diets those without meat, eggs, dairy or animal products of any kind which Savino said can leave children lacking in the iron, zinc, B12 and other vitamins necessary for their development.

Savino, who worked in public relations before being elected a parliamentarian in 2008, wrote in the introduction to the law that the notion that a vegetarian diet, even in the rigid sort of a vegan diet, results in significant health benefits was becoming more widespread in Italy.

There is no objection if the person or persons making this selection is an informed adult. A problem arises when children are involved.

To counteract ideological excess linked to diet, she proposed a one-year prison sentence for the basic offence, extended if the child is aged under three.

The indicated penalty for mothers whose children became sick or injured as a result of malnutrition ranged from two years and six months to four years, and four to six years if death resulted.

But the Italian Society of Food Science rejected Savinos affirmations, with chairman Andrea Ghiselli telling La Repubblica that diets containing excessive sugar and fat were of greater fear than health risks of deficiency of a vegan diet.

The proposal follows a string of high-profile cases of malnutrition brought on by veganism.

A one-year-old boy in Milan raised on a strict vegan diet was last month removed from his mothers detention after he was found to be severely malnourished, weighing simply 5kg.

Levels of calcium in his blood were said to be at the lowest necessary for him to survive and he underwent emergency surgery because of a heart condition, the English-language Italian news site The Local reported.

In June, a two-year-old toddler spent several days in intensive care in a pediatric hospital in Genoa, being treated for vitamin deficiencies as a result of her vegan diet.

In mid-April last year, an Italian court was of the view that a woman in Bergamo , northern Italy, must cook meat for her son at least once a week following complaints from the boys father.

She had been creating him on a macrobiotic diet, the Local reported.

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