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vegan parents in Italy - grrr!

(43 Posts)
downdale Wed 10-Aug-16 16:05:59

I usually stick to lurking, but this article has me hopping mad! Apparently this Italian politician is proposing that parents who subject their young children to 'reckless' diets should be prosecuted, even serving time in prison. So far so good.

But of course, what does the journalist pick up on? Oh yes, vegans! Those reckless, scurvy-ridden vegans grin (of which I am one - minus the scurvy!). Following a vegan diet, IMHO, is not reckless or dangerous if you take the time to research the foods you need to eat. Just like any diet!

Surely an ill-informed parent who feeds their child sugary drinks and fast food is just as reckless as a vegan one who hasn't done their research and isn't getting the proper food into their child?

True enough, there are a few preachy vegans out there, but the majority I know are normal as can be. My word, it does feel like people enjoy bashing us for our choices!

Sorry, rant over!!

suzied Wed 10-Aug-16 16:15:23

To be fair, the Italian diet is usually healthy, and it is reasonably easy to eat a meat free, even vegan, diet there. The journalist is ill informed and maybe associates veganism with some hippy macrobiotic raw food diet which may not be suitable for a very young child. There have been a few cases in this country of this I believe.

downdale Wed 10-Aug-16 16:21:05

ah yes, that could be it. There's often an assumption that vegans are a very extreme sort of person. If only they could see me tucking into a slice of the big chocolate birthday cake I made at the weekend! Little of what you fancy and all that grin

woollynana Wed 10-Aug-16 16:40:23

Yes I totally agree about the junk food and fizzy drinks. It makes my blood boil when I see tiny tots in prams eating crisps or Mcdonalds or drinking pop. I'm in two minds about the vegan thing though - I agree that as a knowledgable adult it can be a very healthy way to eat but I would worry about the calcium - of course I realise that there are other sources than dairy but babies and toddlers need so much this would concern me. My DD has a few vegan friends but all of them have raised their young children as regular vegetarians until they get slightly older

minimo Wed 10-Aug-16 16:40:31

i agree that parents who feed their kids sugary drinks etc are far more harmful. BUT i'm also slightly cautious about veganism for small children. I know too many parents who might jump on this now very popular 'trend' without doing proper research and the kids could end up malnourished as a result. It's hard enough feeding (some)kids - narrowing the options doesn't seem very helpful to me. I've met some responsible vegans, some pretentious ones is all I'm saying...

Cherrytree59 Wed 10-Aug-16 16:42:34

downdale I agree with sugary drinks and food.
A know a couple of vegans like yourself who are very well informed about their dietary requirements and cook really health meals.

However children do need certain vitamins and protein for their growth and healthy bones and teeth
If the parents can make sure the child is getting the required daily amounts
I see no problem.
But there are people who do food fads without really understanding their own dietary requirements never mind those of their children.

My DGS is having treatment for an eye condition at Birmingham children's Hospital. The consultant has asked that as well as the strong steroids he has prescribed, he is given 2 to 3 portions of oily fish a week.
Thankfully he loves fish.

There has been similar cases here regarding parents giving wrong foods (sugar burgers etc) and children becoming obese. I'm not sure if this has got as far as prosecutions.

downdale Wed 10-Aug-16 16:47:42

yes i do so agree that lots of people embark on diets without doing the proper research, vegan or not! personally, i raised my children as vegetarians until they were a bit older. when they were teenagers i let them make their own decisions about what they ate outside the house, be that meat or whatever (they remained vegetarian/vegan to my great relief, i must admit).

what i object to is this singling out of vegans. the article should have been simply about parents who feed their children bad diets - instead it's a piece about fanatical vegans sad

petra Wed 10-Aug-16 16:47:51

There have been several cases around the world of young children dying because of irresponsible vegans. Perhaps he's just trying to stop that happening in Italy.

downdale Wed 10-Aug-16 16:49:23

there have also been cases of children dying because of irresponsible omnivore parents - how is that any different?

phoenix Wed 10-Aug-16 16:56:28

I must admit I have some misgivings about veganism, but I would be interested in hearing why you have chosen to go down that road downdale

Granarchist Wed 10-Aug-16 17:00:59

and re that slice of chocolate cake - I assume it was made without fat or eggs?

Jalima Wed 10-Aug-16 17:24:28

There were a couple of cases at least of children in the UK who were found to be suffering from malnutrition and one child died because their parents thought a vegan diet was healthy for a growing child. Perhaps they didn't have enough knowledge about it, I don't know, but growing children's dietary needs are different to those of an adult.

Here is a different version of the story about the Italian child:

another story about British children:

Eat what you like downdale but vegan parents need to be very careful indeed to feed their children the nutrients and calories they need to develop healthy minds and bodies, which they can get from a vegetarian diet but, according to experts, is practically impossible from a vegan diet.

downdale Wed 10-Aug-16 17:34:07

phoenix I had my misgivings too before I switched from vegetarian to vegan. The first few months were hard, I will admit, but after that i was fine. The reason I switched is because there is just as much cruelty within the dairy and egg industries as there is within the meat industry. I just can't bear the idea that i've contributed to the suffering of another creature.

Granarchist indeed it was made without fat or eggs, bloody lovely it was too! Here's the recipe:

jamie oliver is surprisingly fab for vegan recipes

Jalima I'm not necessarily saying that raising very small children on a vegan diet is a good idea (i didn't) I said, it's the singling out of one specific group that annoys me, when there are plenty of omnivore perpetrators as well

Jalima Wed 10-Aug-16 17:37:52

well, of course, feeding a young child on coca cola, sweeties etc is not good either!

Oh, it's GF as well! (the cake)

varian Thu 11-Aug-16 08:45:13

When my dgc, at about four months old was given some formula (cows milk) to "top up" after breastfeeding, she went into anaphylactic shock, stopped breathing and nearly died. This is a very severe allergy, not the same as dairy intolerence. She also is allergic to eggs so the whole family became vegan.

It does require considerable knowledge and effort to ensure you are getting the nutrients required but it is much easier now than it would have beem a generation ago.

I am pleased to tell you she is a very fit, healthy and energetic child

rosesarered Thu 11-Aug-16 09:14:35

I have reservations about it for children, as varian says in her post 'it does require considerable knowledge and effort to ensure you are getting the nutrients required'
Whereas a normal diet will naturally and easily include a wide range of foods and therefore be so much easier and safer. Children require proteins and fat for their growth.

obieone Thu 11-Aug-16 09:43:08

My gransnet mantra, two wrongs dont make a right.

If some people are doing it wrong in both groups, they do not cancel each other out, or make 1 group right.

Nain9bach Thu 11-Aug-16 10:48:09

A good diet is a varied one. My children were introduced to practically all foods and the moto was 'try a little'. They have grown into healthy individuals. My GS is now being taught the same. There are fad diets, which declare war on certain food types which surely cannot be sustained for long periods. I certainly would not put vegan or vegetarian diet into that category.

vickya Thu 11-Aug-16 13:11:21

#1 daughter is vegan and grandson is 10 now and was vegan until he was nearly 9, when he decided vegetarian instead, His dad was not veggie and although meat is around they always do veg stuff for him. Mum researched carefully and knows how to include everything a growing child needs.

Grandson has a 16 month old baby sister who is bouncing and dimpled and doing fine on the delicious vegan food her mum makes. The children get no rubbish as it was not vegan smile. Cakes and puds for occasions are wonderful. I think the sticky chocolate cake is easily as good as the Sachertorte I make.

vickya Thu 11-Aug-16 13:19:30

Actually grandson's non-vegan dad is Italian born, although UK educated, and the family in the UK and Italy always catered for the vegans very well when there were visits. Many are in the UK now and grandson is spending this week of his holidays with the cousins he has lots of fun with, and I know aunty and grandma will organise food so that he has healthy and delicious meals. Italian dad is a wonderful cook, Adding eggs now grandson is no longer vegan has helped expand what he can have smile. Never seemed a problem in Italy.

But grandson and his dad did a camp with Woodcraft in Germany a couple of weeks ago and he reported that the food there was awful. He said the veggie sausages were sliced of bread rolled up and fried with gravy on top! And the rest was not good either. Luckily there was a camp shop to buy rubbish at to fill up on.

MargaretX Thu 11-Aug-16 14:02:53

If you intend to bring a child up vegan then you should breast feed for two years. That is the natural time for a human baby. They are then weaned and just need a whole lot of greens and pulses and bread and jam.

I have a related family who did just that and what they put on the table I find uneatable but they are healthy and 100% vegan.
These recipies piled high with salads and smoothies is not necessary to live as a vegan.

I wouldn't do it as I like meat and eggs and just don't believe that that big chocolate cake was as good as a piece of Sacher Torte bought in Vienna.

I presume that the article contained a grain of truth but knowing the italians nothing will come of it.

granjura Thu 11-Aug-16 14:03:16

Not sure how I feel- agree that threatening parents with prison and social services is absolutely ridiculous- agree too that fast foods full of bad fats, sugar and preservatives is really bad for children (for all btw). And yet- I do worry about a strict vegan diet for young children, and also about the cohersion, pressure and possible exclusion from other children/'normal' life, in SOME cases.

I've seen it happen - and sadly food can be a massive manipulative tool in the wrong hands- and parents are indeed NOT always right about what is best for their children. The guilt put on some children who wish to eat eggs or cheese, or meat/fish - put upon by strict parents, can send children into dietary disorders, incl bulimia and anorexia, especially in teenage years.

granjura Thu 11-Aug-16 15:09:38

Careful with breastfeeding only for 2 years Margaret. If the mother is a strict vegan on very restrictive diet- the milk may lack in essential nutrients. Here is a comment re a case in Northern France of an 11 month old baby who died:

Breast milk is a near perfect food that is hands-down the best nourishment you can give to your baby. But it does have one downfall: its nutritional value is influenced by the mother's diet, and in extreme cases this can result in important nutrients missing from the breast milk.

In the tragic case reported above, it appears 11-month-old Louise lost her life because her mom's vegan diet created vitamin deficiencies in the breast milk she was exclusively fed on. Sadly, there were warning signs that the milk was not providing proper nutrition months before her death, as the baby was sickly and losing weight, but they were ignored.

'People following a strict vegan diet are often convinced that it is the healthiest way of eating possible, and this was most likely the case with Louise's parents. But this tragic case can serve as a powerful warning for those who choose to avoid all animal foods when breastfeeding.'

There are many other recorded cases of 'neglect' via strict vegan diets all over the world- a tragic one in Arizona where 3 children were found to be massively below normal weight and in very poor health. It is possible to bring young children up vegan- but it has to be done with extreme care, or else.

granjura Thu 11-Aug-16 15:11:07

Here is the case from AZ:

A Scottsdale woman who severely malnourished her three children was sentenced to 30 years in prison, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Kimu Parker was convicted on three counts of child abuse and received 10 years for each count, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said.

The sentences will be served consecutively.

"Thirty years in prison is entirely appropriate for a person who almost starved to death three defenseless children. We will strongly oppose any attempt to reduce this sentence," Thomas said in a press release.

When she was arrested, Parker's 3-year-old weighed 12 pounds, her 9-year-old child weighed 29 pounds and her 11-year-old child weighed 36 pounds.

The parents attributed the low weights to a strict vegan diet.

The youngest child was taken to the hospital in April 2005 after suffering many seizures over the course of several hours. Police reports show the parents didn't call 911 for several hours.

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GrannyBing Thu 11-Aug-16 15:23:43

I'm vegetarian but never imposed it on my daughter (or her dad) and certainly not when she was a baby or growing child, she was welcome to try anything that family or friends were having. I agree with grandura that putting children on a guilt trip about food can do more harm than good. She decided for herself when she started going to nursery that she didn't like meat and now in her early 30s she's practically vegan. It's her choice, she's very healthy on it and so is her new baby who she's breastfeeding.
We've such an abundance and variety of food all year round these days that I think, like Downdale, this article is scaremongering and over-reacting. But in fairness, being vegan or veggie for ethical reasons like cruelty to animals doesn't necessarily lead to having a healthy balanced diet. There are plenty of salty, carbladen, sugary vegan or veggie foods to choose from, and I guess (hope!) this is what the politician means, when it becomes harmful.