Parents who feed their children a vegan diet may be arrested and face a prison sentence under a new law being proposed in Italy.
New legislation will see parents who feed their children an exclusively vegan diet go to prison for up to two years.
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Elvira Savino, an MP from center-right party Forza Italia, says the proposed law aims to curb the current fad in Italy that sees parents force a vegetarian or vegan diet on their kids without consent.
However, Ms Savino says, minors need to be protected from “radicalised” parents who want to impose on their children a restrictive diet that lack “essential elements needed for an healthy physical and cognitive development.”
Ms Savino writes that vegan diets leave children potentially lacking in iron, zinc and B12, which can lead to neurological problems and anaemia, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The MP explains that the aim of the ‘Savino Law’ is to “definitely stigmatise negligent parental behaviours which put minors at risk.”
The proposal would see parents facing up to one year in prison for the basic offence.
However, it could go up to two and a half years if the offence leads to a minor “getting permanently sick or hurt.”
If the minor were to die as a result of the basic offence, parent may face up to six years of reclusion.
Any parent forcing a vegan diet on a child aged three or younger would face at least two years of prison.
The proposed legislation follows a number of high-profile cases in which children, some younger than three, malnourished on account of a poorly-constructed vegan diet imposed on them by their parents have been removed from their care.
In June, a two-year-old girl from Genoa had to be put in the resuscitation unit after showing neurological issues. According to doctors her levels of vitamin B12 were extremely low.
The following month, a 14-month-old boy from Milan was taken to hospital with severe calcium deficiency. He weighed as much as a three-month-old child.
Eight per cent of Italians are vegetarian or vegan according to Italian Corriere della Sera.