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An Italian Court Just Ruled that Babies Can Be Vegan and Healthy

A court in Italy recently ruled on what is being called a groundbreaking case for the recognition and rights of alternative diets.
Photo via Flickr user Sonny Abesamis

It's a nursery tale for the ages. A loving and independent mother unabashedly gives her best for the welfare of her child, only to be bemoaned and belittled by an entire Italian school district. I would pay damn good money to watch Meryl Streep speak-sing for an hour and a half about that.

But, in fact, something like that really happened in modern-day Italy.

A court in Alto Adige—a region in Northern Italy known for its abundant winemaking—recently ruled on what is being called a groundbreaking case for the recognition and rights of alternative diets in the Mediterranean nation. And (shocker) the court actually ended up ruling in favor of the plaintiff and her family's right to raise their child vegan.


The dispute in question began in February, when a young mother from the town of Merano notified her ten-month-old son's nursery school that the child would be switching to a vegan diet. No big deal, right? In fact in some American cities—I'm looking at your Berkeleys, Bushwicks, and Brentwoods—a non-vegan child might be an anomaly.

Not the case in Italy, evidently. The nursery decided that not only would they refuse to comply with the mother's wish to feed the kid a vegan diet, they also demanded to see a medical certificate proving the health and welfare of the aspiring vegan infant. The shit hit the fan when, after the mother refused the dubious request, the nursery expelled the child in retaliation. A legal battle ensued. The local education authorities defended their actions with the claim that a vegan diet is dangerous for children, especially infants.

This shit is totally like the Godfather but with gangs of subculture-straddling toddlers and only like 20 percent Francis Ford Coppola sweat. How do you say reboot in Italian?

Anyways, the Italian mamma called bullshit. She claimed in court that not only were the benefits of a vegan diet scientifically proven, the nursery had been unfair and disproportionate in its expulsion of her son.

The judge agreed with her, stating that the expulsion was discriminatory and that the nursery's request for a detailed medical certificate was not in fitting with current social norms.

Thusly, the court ordered the bouncing bambino to be reinstated at the nursery and further ruled that the local school authority should pay for the family's legal costs.

Carlo Prisco, the mother's lawyer, told La Stampa that the case was a "milestone" for the recognition of alternative diets. He went on to add that the outcome of the case would doubtlessly prove useful in future cases "when institutions and public administration attempt to stop citizens from exercising their right to make ethical dietary choices."

Italy loves its pasta, but its meat just as well. This May, a court in Italy ordered a vegan mother to cook meat once a week for her child. And last month, the parents of an 11-year old who was deemed malnourished were questioned by the police when they found out the parents were vegans. So alternative diets seem to have a ways to go in the birthplace of bracciole.

But regardless of your views on parenting and alternative diets like veganism, I think we can all muster a thimble of commiseration for the real victims of this whole affair: Italy's Lunchables peddlers.