Last week, a 14-month-old child was brought to Milan's Fatebenefratelli Hospital by his grandparents. When doctors assessed the one-year-old child, they were shocked to discover that he weighed a mere 11 pounds—the same as an average three-month old infant.
But low weight was only one of the child's many ailments, which included life-threateningly low calcium levels that contributed to a heart condition and required emergency surgery. In fact, blood tests revealed the child was "severely malnourished," with calcium levels described as "the minimum needed to survive."
The culprit for these ailments, according to doctors? The child's vegan parents, who insisted on raising their baby vegan and refused to change his diet even after he survived the "life-saving" surgery, according to Italy's The Local. That's when medical staff alerted social services, who promptly obtained a court order forcing the child to remain in the custody of the hospital where he had been operated on.
"It's clear the child was being fed a strict vegan diet which was incompatible with his young age," Judge Ciro Cascone told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, adding that the child was not provided with any dietary supplements.
This incident comes less than two weeks after reports emerged of another Italian vegan toddler requiring hospitalization due to severe vitamin deficiencies and dangerously low hemoglobin levels.
According to The Local, veganism is on the rise, with just under 3 percent of the country's population—roughly 1.7 million people—refusing to eat animal products. This most recent case was the fourth incidence of a vegan child being hospitalized due to malnutrition and dietary problems in the last 18 months.
It's hard to imagine why anyone would be vegan in the land of guanciale and porchetta, but courts have recently acknowledged that a vegan diet can in fact be healthy for children. They also haven't hesitated to enforce old-school culinary traditions, when it's in the bambino's best interest. Last year, an Italian court forced a vegetarian mother to cook meat for her son at least once a week after the boy's father became worried about his boy's diet.
God bless Italy.