Personal choice is a wonderful thing. Although the American Council on Science And Health has campaigned against cigarette smoking for three decades, and for seat belts almost as long, we recognize that people have free will and some are going to smoke cigarettes or drink raw milk or not wear seat belts.
What they should not be able to do is foist off dangerous lifestyle choices onto their children under the guise of parental rights. A civilized society realizes there are common sense rules that some will exploit so you can't legally let your children smoke or drink whisky. Using similar common sense guidelines, it should be obvious that forcing a child into a vegan diet is not healthy.
The latest evidence comes from Italy. A couple who had adapted this diet fad in Pisa, Italy had to rush their infant to a hospital because their child was suffering from severe malnutrition. At 11 months, the child could not sit up or crawl. The parents had put him on their vegan diet and when nature fought back - the child refused to eat strictly plant-based fare - they relied solely on breast milk. Alarming deficiencies that resulted included iron, vitamin D and vitamin B12. It will be years before it is known whether or not the child has suffered permanent damage, we hope he has dodged a lifetime of misery because his parents gave him a diet that the science world knows you can't even give a cat.
"The problem was that they realised too late the effects of choosing a vegan diet without seeking medical advice," an Italian doctor told Alice Philipson of The Telegraph.
'I didn't know the diet book I read was not evidence-based' is a poor defense when it comes to child abuse charges. Parents who were otherwise caring individuals put their infant in harm's way, no differently than if they read a book saying seat belts don't save lives and the child was injured in an accident.
Fortunately, these instances are still rare, but we need to remain vigilant when it comes to the world's most vulnerable population. The couple is under investigation and may face child abuse charges.
Learn more about the vegan diet here.