Italians have been raised on a steady diet of meats and cheeses, prosciuttos and provolone, salami and mozzarellas – and the Italian government intends to keep it that way.
A new law has been proposed by the center-right Forza Italia: they’re calling for parents to be held legally liable if they serve their children a vegan diet. Or, as the bill itself describes, “a diet devoid of elements essential for healthy and balanced growth,” Reuters reports.
The proposal comes on the heels of multiple, high-profile court cases of undernourishment, which have been linked to vegan dieting. In one case, a Milanese one-year-old child reportedly carried the weight of a mere three-month-old infant after being fed a steady vegan diet. Another case featured a 12-year-old boy whose growth was stunted, according to the father, due to the mother’s food choices (the parents are divorced).
“I have nothing against vegans or veganism as long as it is a free choice by adults,” Italian lawmaker Elvira Savino told Reuters.
“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.”
If the bill is approved, vegan parents will be in a tough spot. Jail sentences are one of the potential punishments, which can extend to as long as seven years’ imprisonment. This is for extreme cases, like those where a child has died from suspected malnutrition.
The consequence for just serving up a vegan diet?
A year of imprisonment.
Critics of the law did make a salient point towards the Italian government: before focusing on a few, irregular cases of malnourishment, lawmakers should perhaps focus on the childhood obesity epidemic in the country first.