News

Should the UK introduce Italy’s anti-vegan law?

By on
79

We spoke to some criminal lawyers to find out

Lead1

Politicians in Italy are in the process of introducing a law that could see parents locked away for feeding their children vegan diets, and UK lawyers are not very happy about it.

According to reports in The Standard, draft legislation pushed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party says parents who feed their kids a vegan diet could be put in prison for up to a year.

Unsurprisingly, the UK has no vegan-specific law like this one, but that doesn’t mean parents aren’t accountable for what their child eats.

Since 1933, legislation has criminalised cruelty to children, with malnourishment falling under the heading of cruelty.

However, feeding your children a vegan diet is not equal to malnourishment, and — after a quick chat with some of the country’s leading criminal lawyers — we feel very sceptical about whether the 1933 legislation would catch this sort of behaviour. This is the case even though, as pointed out by barrister Max Hardy, s66 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 amended the offence to include non-physical, psychological harm. He continued:

[T]his could conceivably provide a platform for a claim that, though a child’s physical health was not suffering through a meat-free diet, their mental health was.

That said, Hardy was quick to point out this possibility is a “bit of a stretch”.

So, do we need to follow in the footsteps of the Italians and consider our own anti-vegan legislation?

The overwhelming response from the lawyers we spoke to was no.

Anonymous advocate Secret Barrister described the proposed law as “entirely unnecessary in England and Wales.” Parents, he told us, could do a lot worse than feed their sprog a quinoa sandwich.

This view was shared by 9-12 Bell Yard barrister Daniel Sternberg. He told Legal Cheek:

With the greatest of respect to Mr Berlusconi’s party, it sounds like a headline-grabbing initiative that hasn’t been properly thought out.

Blogging barrister Matthew Scott agreed with Sternberg’s sentiments, adding:

[T]his absurd woman [Forza party member Elvira Savino, who is pushing for the legislation] seems to think that a vegan diet is in itself inadequate, a point of view that is even more ridiculous in sunny Italy with its delicious fruit, vegetables, nuts and olive oil than it would be in England; in fact she even seems to be suggesting that a vegetarian diet should be banned for children. I suspect almost all parents, especially the vegan ones, know a great deal more about nutrition than this asinine Signora [foolish lady] thinks she knows, (and I speak as a meat eater).

What do you think — should parents be punished for feeding their children vegan diets?

79 Comments

Anonymous

If the vegan diet is a bad vegan diet – yes. If a child is not getting the proper nutrients and all the rest, yes, of course.

But not just because it’s vegan.

Vegetarian may be a less extreme option… (and more tasty)

(11)(9)

Pantman

The poor diet issue is covered in the article, we don’t need to deal with that.

(1)(2)

Mr Pineapples

We need to bring in some severe punishment for such abuse.

Veganism is thought police – it’s control – it’s nonsense made to sound like science.

Let’s ban it and criminalise its vile practices

(25)(43)

Mrs Pineapples

Well said Mr P

(16)(18)

Master Pineapples

Well in Dad

(9)(13)

Granny Pineapples

I’m proud of you son.

(6)(13)

Great Grandpa Pineapples

Bloody foreigners!!!

Baby Pineapples

Da-da!

Anonymous

Chill out son

(2)(2)

Anonymous

It makes no difference as it’s impossible to be a vegan in Italy anyway. Pancetta and anchovies are not animal products, only flavour.

(5)(3)

Mrs Pineapples

Anchovies? Flavour? It’s a bird last time I looked

(7)(2)

Trumpenkrieg

I think parents who force their children to be “gender non-conforming” or “queer” are the ones who need locking up, and for longer than a year.

(18)(14)

Anonymous

What about non-binary, gender fluid sea monsters?

(10)(4)

Trumpenkrieg

Humour is a white cisgender heteropatriarchal instrument of class oppression. Stop using it to belittle my lived experience, you shitlord.

(7)(5)

Anonymous

Has there ever been a case of a child forced to be queer?

(7)(2)

Trumpenkrieg

There have been numerous cases of “progressive” parents jubilantly parading even pre-pubertal children as “queer” in the media.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Care to name any examples?

(0)(2)

Trumpenkrieg

You will find ample examples under the ‘Parenting Gay Kids’ article tag on the Huffington Post website.

Sample headlines:

“No, My 10-Year-Old Son Isn’t Looking for a Girlfriend. He Likes Boys.”

“Your Toddler Might Be Gay”

“I Know My 9-Year-Old Son’s ‘Type’: Pretty Boys With Dark Hair”

Trumpenkrieg

It might be time for you to grow up and realise that not everything that sounds improbable to you is a right wing conspiracy theory, and not everything that is touted as “progressive” is right, or good.

Anonymous

Ok, since the rest of the comments here are worthless I’ll try and contribute.

Basically the law already exists. If you feed a child a strict vegan diet so that they are malnourished then you are guilty of child cruelty.

Then there’s the issue of enforcement. If you feed a child a vegan diet but are careful to make sure they get the required nutrients, then how will anyone know that an offence is being committed under an anti vegan law?

As an aside, this is one of the better Katie King blog posts.

(13)(4)

Anonymous

I’m not in favour of an anti-vegan law, but I’d be fully behind one that allows imprisonment for people who talk about being vegan at any opportunity.

(19)(14)

Anonymous

Silly law, but we could do worse than follow Italy in matters of food and drink.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Vegans don’t technically have “kids”, they usually just shed some skin flakes in an airing cupboard and wait six months for some more vegans to grow

(22)(9)

Pablo

I’m vegan and this is true

(2)(1)

Anonymous

I fully support feeding children vegans…

(18)(5)

Anonymous

A vegan diet should be banned for infants under 2yo.
Replacing human, animal or even soy milk with products like almond milk is irresponsible.
Aside from an absence of studies assessing protein absorption and nutritional value, manufacturing conditions are not as stringent for alternative products. Synthetic milk is suboptimal to human breast milk, so it is deceptive for products that look like milk to be given to neonates who are at a critical time of growth and development.

(8)(10)

Anonymous

children can drink their mothers milk and still be vegan… It was made for them to drink. Animal milk was not made for us to drink, it is not healthy for us to drink either, so it’s irresponsible for us to drink it.

(26)(6)

Anonymous

Soy milk is vegan

(1)(0)

Caroline

Before I went vegan I did A LOT of research into it before committing (I went from full meat eater to vegan) and there’s an overwhelming amount of data supporting the vegan diet in only in the regards for nutrition and health, but also in helping control climate change as agriculture is the number 1 contributor to our ever dwindling atmosphere. Maybe if Italy focused on the real danger their children face, which is poverty, instead of some extreme targeted bullying they’d make make a real difference to the lives of the children they are claiming to “protect”.

(32)(16)

Anonymous

You must be fun at parties.

(13)(14)

Roy Orbison

You’re sweet

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Climate change is happening regardless of whether we breed animals etc. for meat. A few less cow farts in the atmosphere is not going to stop it.

(7)(23)

Anonymous

Yes it is, animal agriculture is the leading cause of almost all environmental issues.

(23)(6)

Anonymous

Conspiracy theorist confirmed.

(4)(10)

Ra

What? There’s actual studies about animal agriculture’s effect on the environment, the FAO report “livestock’s long shadow” was released 10 years ago, if you are not informed you shouldn’t make this kind of comments.

Anonymous

I thought it was volcanoes?!

(0)(5)

A from time to time LC reader

Sorry Caroline, I was in total agreement with you for most of your post, I do agree there are environmental benefits.
It is a fact that due to mass world consumption of beef. Grazing cows for example is tearing up the amazon into miles of wasteland and ultimately causing environmental degradation, which although it may not seem a highly noticeable issue to us in the UK, right now. In the future, we will definitely have questions to ask on this.

Anyways the statement you made ‘if Italy focused on the real danger their children face which is poverty’. Is quite simply not factual. Poverty is in every country in the world. But it is much more extreme in some countries than others. Italy however is most definitely not a low economically developed country. Although growth has stagnated a little, due to euro-zone crises etc etc. They are very much a quote on quote “rich” once upon a time the where part of the world’s leading economic countries in what was known as the G7.

In short poverty amongst children in Italy, obviously does occur. But it’s not a “real” danger.

(7)(5)

A from time to time LC reader

I was also going to say in regards to this vegan debate. Vegetarianism makes sense to me. But could vegans out there explain to me why they choose not to have dairy products like milk, cheese and eggs?

Where do you get vital nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12 and so on. It makes sense depriving children, especially really young children is worrying, if there’s no suitable alternative. Surely.

(6)(4)

Anonymous

As for calcium and vitamins, you can get those from eating soy products and drinking soy milk.

(8)(5)

Anonymous

You evil brute! How about getting those nutrients without murdering innocent soy beans? I only eat food that has died of natural causes.

(7)(11)

Anonymous

I eat dead people, which is the most environmentally conscious lifestyle out there.

(3)(3)

Anonymous

Ah, you’ve been watching Soylent Green.

This comment is from some quasi-intellectual masquerading as a science fiction fan.

Trumpenkrieg

Soy increases oestrogen, turning men into cucks.

(2)(7)

Anonymous

Are you speaking from personal experience?

(3)(1)

Annoying vegan

Carbs – wholegrains, wholemean bread, potatos, beans, pulses, cereals, oats and pasta
Fibre – wholegrains, nuts, beans, pulses, wheatgerm, oats, lots of fruit and vegetables
Iron- tofu, beans, pulses, spinach, cabbage, wheatgerm, wholegrains, parsley, prunes, dates, dried apricots and pumpkin seeds
Calcium- Tofu, tahini, green leafy vegetables, parsley, watercress, broccoli, swede, almond and soya milk
Zinc- wholegrains, lentils, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, wheatgerm and oats
Iodine- green leafy vegetables and kelp
Magnesium- green leafy vegetables, soya beans, cashew nuts, almonds, broccoli, wholegrains, bananas and prunes
Protein – tofu, rice, beans, pulses, wholegrains, soya milk, cereal, tahini and pulses, beansprouts and wholegrains
Essential fatty acids- vegetable oils (soya, corn, sunflower, avocados, margarine, nuts and olive oil)
Vitamin A- carrots, spinach, green leafy vegetables,watercress, pepers, yellow vegetables, fruit and dried apricots
Vitamin B group- wheatgerm, yeast, wholegrains, bean sprouts, avocardos, peanuts, mushrooms and currants
Vitamin B12- soya milk, cereal, soya, seaweed, miso and yeast extract
Vitamin C- green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, green pepers, parsley, potatos, frozen peas, oranges and blackcurrants.
Vitamin D- sunlight, fortified cereals and margarine
Vitamin E- vegetable oils, wheatgerm, tahini, nuts, seeds and avocardos
Vitamin K- Green leafy vegetables, seaweed, kelp and vegetable oil

(20)(5)

om nom nom

…All available in a nice juicy steak.

(9)(17)

Anonymous

Ok people just carry on eating all that lovely meat you can’t live without and we’ll see who lives longer! Enjoy the parasite ridden, cancer causing flesh of dead souls, yum!

(6)(2)

Omnivore and proud

This is the most childish comment on here. It’s like “I don’t have facts, so I’m going wish some made up disease on them”. Ridiculous. What’s more, do you think if the products contained parasites they’d make it to shelves? grow up. There’s also no correlation between cancer and eating meat. That pseudoscience was debunked more recently.

Annoying carnivore

Taste – Steak, ribs, pork belly, bacon, fried chicken, sausages, lamb

(1)(11)

Anonymous

Aaaaaaaand how exactly are you going to get my two year old to eat all that ?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

The problem with eggs and dairy is how they treat the offspring of the animals. In the egg industry the usually take about half of the eggs to hatch so they can continue another generation of hens. Since male chicks from egg farms are not useful they chop them up in blenders or suffocate them in plastic bags. In the dairy industry, calves are usually taken a day after they’re born from their mothers. Typically the girls are raised while the boys are used for veal or cheap meat.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Matthew Scott seems to have a problem not so much with the legislation, but the fact that a woman is proposing it. He seems pretty backward to me

(0)(3)

Trumpenkrieg

Didn’t you get the memo?

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

You seem to post on here a lot. That suggests you don’t have a job. You should sort out your own life instead of whining about women who are more successful than you.

(7)(1)

Bun's Wife

My little sister turned vegan about 6 months ago. Her diet is hugely better than before, eating lots of fruit and veg and trying different things all the time. Before her diet consisted of chicken nuggets, chicken nuggets and more chicken nuggets.

(13)(3)

Trumpenkrieg

I think you’ll find the benefits she has reaped are more down to abandoning the diet of “chicken nuggets, chicken nuggets and more chicken nuggets” than to going vegan.

(5)(8)

Annoying vegan

Hi, she is talking about me and obviously it wasn’t literally just chicken nuggets. I am now more open to try new foods though meaning I get more variety in my diet.

(8)(3)

Anonymous

Shut up she was talking about me. I don’t even know who you are.

(1)(3)

Annoying carnivore

Get lost you two, it was me. And for your information, I was stockpiling the chicken nuggets as I had a premonition that a nuclear armageddon was coming after which nuggets will be currency. You’ll all see.

Bun's Sister-in-law

Frauds! I am the nugget eater. I’ll have you know that the chicken nugget has all the nutrients we need. Anyway, have to go, the light is too bright and my two remaining fingers ache from typing

Michelle

What about the patents forcing their children to eat meat, processed meat and dairy? Can the children sue them for getting cancer? Or emotionally traumetised when they realise they are eating animal corpses?

(16)(10)

#AnimalsAreDelicious

Jesus. Don’t procreate ever.

(8)(9)

Anonymous

#prayfortheanimals

(5)(2)

Anonymous

#jesuissausage

(7)(2)

Omnivore and proud

I second that.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

You need to brush up on your IP law if you think a patent can be registered for that.

(3)(1)

Annoying vegan

When I was a meat eater I used to go to the doctors every other week due to some kind of illness, i’ve suffered from anemia and IBS . Since adopting a vegan diet I haven’t had to go to the doctors once nor have I had any of these illnesses. I am much happier and healthier. I understand if a parent isn’t ensuring their child gets the right vitamins causing their child to become sick, then yes this should be a chargeable offence. Studies have shown meat and dairy are the leading cause of a number of diseases – surely we should consider banning this? If you are a vegan yourself, obviously you are going to raise your child like you, in the same way I’m not going to raise my child religious (because I am not). People see vegans as “forcing” their diet on their child, yet meat eaters are also “forcing” this diet on their children. I would have no problem whatsoever if my child then decided they wanted to eat meat and animal products when they have the right to choose.

(14)(5)

Anonymous

At what age would you deem them competent enough to make this decision?

(3)(1)

Anonymous

When they can reason…

(0)(1)

Anonymous

I have read studies that say being a sanctimonious vegan evangelist is the leading cause of having no friends

(5)(4)

Anonymous

I think the wrong issue is being focused on. Vegans make up a minute proportion of the population. Do they not realise that more children are being hospitalised from the effects of eating too much junk food/sugar/fat than for being on a bad vegan diet. If they were so concerned for children’s health they would ban some of the disgusting food that’s on the market today that have no nutritional value and only cause health problems for the young children whose parents give it to them. Sure, vegan diets can be bad, if care is not taken, but they can also be amazing and provide all the nutrients needed for the child without any of the bad stuff you find in many animal products.

(10)(2)

Omnivore and proud

The issue is that, yes, while vegans make up a minute population, the ‘information’ on the internet is huge, pushy and largely based on opinions and not facts. I’ve seen many pro-vegan websites that claim veganism is the best or better or something similar. Lots of people don’t realize that you need to go to the peer-reviewed science for facts, and so they believe whatever these websites tell them, and suffer potential health consequences. Most vegans are B12 deficient. There are plenty of studies who have tested this many times on large groups of people.
On the other hand, no one is claiming fast food/junk food is a good diet choice. In fact, it’s even implied in the name it’s no good, ‘junk’ food.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Wow t’s quite incredible.

3 out of the 4 most commented articles right now, were all done by Katie.
Regardless of the controversy that can surround her articles,it goes without saying she knows how to cause a stir and get people talking.
That’s real journalism.
Katie is King guys. Facts speak for themselves

(3)(2)

Anonymous

The facts aren’t fully set out in your comment. It’s hardly worthy of praise to be able generate lots of comments berating the quality of the article.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

But who said journalism was run on quality? Have you asked the Sun or the Daily Mirror this question?
How do you think they continue to sell their papers to a mass audience? What about BBC Panaroma or Channel 4 dispatches?
Journalism is all about controversy. Raising debates, awakening views, strengthening opinions.
You find quality in academic books like Human Nature by Thomas Hobbes etc.
Katie is King. Long live the King!!!

(2)(1)

Comments are closed.