Parents who insist on vegan diet for children may risk jail in Italy


I found this shocking. The life-long vegans that I know personally are among the healthiest people I have met.


It seems like a lopsided law, at the very least. Why vegans, and not also people who feed their kids basically twinkies, cocoa puffs, and hamburger helper? Surely a healthy vegan diet is better than a twinkie diet.

What if the vegans are supplementing the diet with B12 or whatever else?


The scope of this law is shocking, yes. But the incident that may have spurred it, the one year old with the weight of a 3 month old, is mind blowingly shocking. The idea that someone would deny milk/formula, which is an animal product (be it from mom or otherwise) to a baby, when that’s what babies are supposed to be drinking as nature intended is just absurd. If you’re a vegan fine, but your kid still needs to be drinking milk based products either from your breast or from an alternate source.

But like you I’ve known some kids that were raised primarily vegan at home who are among some of the healthiest and smartest kids I know. But their mother waited until they were old enough to go full vegan, and certainly didn’t screw around with vegan formula and early food replacements. And even now she has to keep close eyes on what they eat because a vegan diet can easily be lacking in required nutrients a kid needs if one is even a little careless.


Italy doesn’t have twinkies or cocoa puffs.

Hamburger helper I believe is already illegal. :wink:

This proposed law is because there had been a few cases of significantly malnourished children whose parents were feeding them vegan diets.

That’s happened in the US too.


These cases regarding malnutrition, stunted growth, etc., have to be a very small, and negligible percentage of children eating a vegan diet. These should be handled as child neglect and handled on a case by case basis, not a sweeping law criminalizing vegan diets for kids.



A vegan diet is not necessarily healthful. Growing children require different nutrition than adults. I’m sure there are ways to supplement a vegan diet for children, or, specifically target it for the nutrition needs of a growing child. There are examples of people not doing that, though. And the kids suffer.


I’m not a fan of dietary laws myself. I have seen a child raised vegan I was told since birth, and have to admit though she looked and acted unhealthy. Hardly proof of course that a vegan diet can be harmful to health but it did make me wonder about a lack of nutrients she might be getting. Then again some typical American diets don’t create the best appearance in children either.

There is a line of research that some animal nutrients help with strengthening the immune system. As a result these nutrients likely played a roll in eliminating diseases common in the past. One animal product often mentioned is cholesterol helping prevent active tuberculosis. We of course create much of our cholesterol needs. Dietary cholesterol sources have been found beneficial by some though. As an example of that, thought this a nice article:

Cholesterol and Tuberculosis


Growing children require a lot of calories relative to their size, it is much harder to meet on a vegetarian and especially on a vegan diet which means if a parent isn’t quite careful they can be malnourishing their children. Yes the American diet is awful, but at least it doesn’t result in caloric deprivation.

It is extremely difficult for an infant to be fed plant based formula, in case of parents being vegan the baby should be fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months and possibly to a year to insure the baby is getting enough nutrition, unsurprisingly breast milk is basically perfect for an infant (it’s literally the point of breast milk).


I agree that being fed cocoa puffs and Hamburger Helper is probably less harmful than vegan diets for very young children. Breastmilk is not perfect; it’s deficient in iron and doesn’t have a lot of Vitamin D.

I don’t support these kinds of laws–they represent overreach, I think–but I do agree that vegan diets are not a good idea for babies and toddlers.


Okay, give the baby some iron supplements and as for Vitamin D consider the natural way humans got Vitamin D, sunlight.


Children need cholesterol and saturated fat in their diets for proper development of their brains. Vegan diets don’t supply that. No young child should be getting a vegan diet. I remember reading of an experiment feeding young calves a vegan formula. It had all the vitamins and minerals, fat and proteins you would expect of mother’s milk, but no cholesterol. The calves did very poorly and were sick. Cows are by nature vegetarian, and yet they still need dietary cholesterol when they are young! What does that tell us about us? We are omnivores, not vegetarians and have an even greater need for animal fats in our diet.


It never even crossed my mind that they weren’t giving their children human breastmilk when young. :o:eek: Silly me figured that would be the vegan way, then weaning onto cereals, etc. I guess I am more accustomed to vegans from other portions of the world, and not Europe and USA. I wasn’t thinking early weaning, either.


I lived on a small island where there was a cult. No animal products but they ate fish; said there were living fish like critters in water so that was OK.

One of them had two children. The first was OK but the baby was barely being fed and finally the authorities took him away, severely malnourished.

t was not the vegan diet but ignorance of vegan diet.

Meat is not essential and meat today is full of chemicals.

While we have the potential to be omnivorous, we are not obligate carniviores . I prefer my critters alive and there is no way I would eat red meat.

Nothing wrong with being vegetarian or vegan


But destroying a family (send mom and dad to jail for 4 years) over a perfectly healthy child seems absurd. It would make more rational sense if the child were malnourished. Or if future malnourishment is a source of concern, require monitoring of the child through a physician (it is Italy, it is public health care).

(but see my post above, I was assuming a decent stretch of breastmilk)


Four years actually requires the child develop a permanent health problem


This is absolutely none of the government’s business. If the children are actually malnourished, I’m sure it’s already covered by existing laws.


Yes, I see that I had forgotten what I read, it is two years if the child is under 3, otherwise it is one. But still, that seems a disproportionate impact on a perfectly healthy child to lose her/his parents for that long, introducing a substantive source of family instability/stress.


To an Italian Veganism is treason
I surprised it’s not a capital offense


These are necessary for adult brains as well. The Vegan diet is not healthy over the long term.

However, I have enjoyed it during Lent. It makes skim milk on Easter taste like a milkshake.


Modern almond milk is extremely thin compared to traditional almond milk (in the Middle Ages almond milk was used extensively during Lent) which starts with a 2:3 ratio of almonds to water

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