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Parents Who Make Their Kids Eat Vegan Deserve Jail Time, Says Italian Lawmaker

They could face sentences of one to seven years if the law is passed

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Going vegan, whether it's for ethical or health reasons, is a personal choice — unless of course you're a kid whose vegan parents handle the grocery shopping. But in Italy, one lawmaker wants to make it illegal to raise children on a vegan diet.

Reuters reports that Elvira Savino, a member of Italian parliament, has proposed a law "that would hold parents legally responsible for feeding their children on 'a diet devoid of elements essential for healthy and balanced growth.'" Parents who are caught feeding kids under 16 a vegan diet could be jailed for up to a year, with sentences up to 7 years if the child becomes ill or dies as a result of said diet.

The move follows a number of highly publicized cases involving kids who suffered negative health effects from a diet free of animal products; according to the BBC, "In four cases over the last 18 months, malnourished children were hospitalised in Italy after being fed a vegan diet."

"I have nothing against vegans or veganism as long as it is a free choice by adults. I just find it absurd that some parents are allowed to impose their will on children in an almost fanatical, religious way, often without proper scientific knowledge or medical consultation," Savino tells Reuters.

As the BBC points out, many dieticians agree that a vegan diet can be perfectly healthy for kids, but care must be taken to ensure they're getting all the nutrients necessary for growth and development.

The proposed law will be considered by parliamentary committees and then go to the floor for debate later this year.

• Parents Who Insist on Vegan Diet for Children May Risk Jail in Italy [Reuters]

• Italy Proposal to Jail Vegans Who Impose Diet on Children [BBC]

• All Vegan Coverage [E]