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Vegan Myth: “Vegan Diets Are Dangerous For Children”

We take some of the biggest lies and misconceptions around veganism and tackle them head on

I know, I know, it’s so obviously a fallacy it’s barely worth debunking. But we have seen a spate of stories showing a worrying backlash against veganism in children, so it’s worth looking at again.

Not too long ago, a story from Italy hit the mainstream media. Politician Elvira Savino wanted to see parents who ‘forced’ a vegan diet on their kids imprisoned. Savino, a member of the centre–right party Forza Italia, submitted a proposal to the Italian Parliament. She claimed that vegan diets often leave children lacking in important vitamins, iron, and zinc. Her proposed law aimed to ‘stigmatise the reckless and dangerous eating behaviour imposed by parents’. Under her proposals, parents who ‘force’ a vegan diet on children aged under three, could be jailed for one year. If children became ill for dietary reasons, her suggested sentence ranged from two and a half, to four years, and if the child died from malnutrition, the sentence would be up to six years. According to Savino, she hoped to counteract ‘ideological excess’.

No doubt this proposal was horrifying to many vegan parents, the vast majority of whom will be carefully and lovingly bringing up their children, making sure their nutritional needs are met, and they are healthy and happy.

According to The Vegan Society: “Without a shadow of a doubt, a plant–based diet can be affordable, nutritious and tasty: everything you need for raising happy, healthy children.

“The benefits of vegan diets can be enjoyed at any age, as verified by our partners the British Dietetic Association. Whether you’re planning to have or adopt a baby, are pregnant, breastfeeding, or feeding growing infants and older children – there is a healthy plant based diet for you. All of the evidence supports well–planned, properly balanced vegan diets for growing children. If you have any concerns, ensure your family doctor refers you to a trained expert called a registered dietitian.”

The society is not the only organisation which is confident in promoting a vegan diet for children.

According to charity Veganuary (which encourages people to try veganism for the month of January): “Any diet needs to be carefully planned to ensure correct nutrition, and with growing children this becomes even more important. However, there is no evidence to show that children eating a balanced, properly supplemented vegan diet are any less healthy than meat or dairy–eating children. In fact, vegan parents are often better informed about nutrition and well–cared for vegan kids may eat healthier than many omnivorous ones whose diet often includes too much junk food and not enough fruit and vegetables.”

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