Does Veganism Equate To Malnourishment? Italy To Imprison Vegan Parents If They Force Their Diet To Their Children

Italy is putting its foot down against veganism. The country, which is known for its love for meat and cheeses, has passed a new law that would imprison vegan parents who force their eating lifestyle to their children.

Italy's new law involves children under 16 years old, Reuters reported. Guilty parents would face a year of imprisonment just for raising their child on a vegan diet, and will increase to four years if the kid develops a permanent health issue.

Parents could face seven years of jail time if the child dies. Prison sentences would also increase by one year if a child is below three years old.

Parliamentarian Elvira Savino told Reuters that veganism is fine "as long as it is a free choice," adding that it's illogical for parents to force their eating lifestyle on children "in an almost fanatical, religious way, often without proper scientific knowledge or medical consultation." Pediatricians advised parents against imposing veganism on kids because it lacks sufficient nutrients that growing bodies need.

Italy's new law states that putting children on a vegan diet robs them of "elements essential for healthy and balanced growth." The law comes after numerous Italian cases (four in the last 18 months) of malnourished children who were hospitalized after their parents forced them into veganism, according to BBC.

Another case involved a 12-year-old boy whose growth was stunted after being raised on a vegan diet, Time added. In Milan, a one-year-old boy was taken to the hospital and was found to have the weight of a three-month-old.

Doctors believe that the parents of the hospitalized children don't understand how to properly supplement a vegan diet to make it safe for their health. The American Dietetic Association said veganism is alright for children, but it should be side-by-side with a full variety of necessary nutrients such as calcium and vitamin B12, which can be found in animal products like milk and eggs.

According to Kids Health, children up to eight years old should have 1 ½ servings of food rich with protein every day, with older kids and adolescents needing 2 ½ servings. Eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, and milk are good sources of protein. Protein generates chemicals such as adrenaline and hemoglobin in the human body and helps build, sustain, and repair tissues.

Some parents who raise their children on vegetables said there are plenty of vegan substitute products out there that contain vitamin B12, as well as supplements that contain iron and iodine, The Irish Times reported. For them, the key is finding a balance and making sure that the child gets all the nutrients he/she needs.

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