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Italian Parents of Vegan Kids Could Face Jail Time

Lawmakers debate punishing parents whose vegan children become malnourished.

Italian Parliamentarians are considering jail time of up to four years for parents whose vegan children become malnourished. The measure, proposed by a member of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, would apply to children under the age of 16, and comes in response to four vegan children being hospitalized in Italy during the course of 18 months. One case involved a 14-month-old Milanese infant who was severely underweight and suffered from a serious calcium deficiency. However, a spokesperson for the United Kingdom-based Vegan Society called this case “an isolated incident” and said the law unfairly discriminates against vegan parents because “malnutrition unfortunately is not uncommon—it affects over three million people in the UK. The reason this story made headlines is due to misunderstanding about the vegan diet.” The spokesperson added that “according to the British Dietetic Association, vegan diets are suitable for any age and life-stage and include everything needed for optimal health.”

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