The couple is appealing the decision in court, and one can only hope that the judiciary will show common sense where the local welfare officials have not.
Spyros Epitropakis, head of the city’s welfare services, says the application was denied based on information received from the University of Crete Medical School which told Epitropakis that the child’s diet “must include meat and fish.”
It’s almost unbelievable that in this day and age anyone could think that a child is simply incapable of surviving without meat.
Usually this kind of silly, inexplicable panic is reserved for cases involving children of vegan parents ever since the story of the Atlanta couple whose baby died after being fed nothing but soymilk and apple juice. The prosecutor in that case said definitively: “The vegan diet is fine. These parents lied about what they fed him. He just was not fed enough.”
There’s a special brand of fear-mongering that comes into play when discussing veganism and children, and members of the media are ruthless when trying to frighten vegetarians and vegans away from raising their children accordingly.
For example, the Guardian ran a piece a year ago titled “Is Veganism Safe for Kids?” that starts with a story about a child who was taken away from his parents who refused to give him cow’s milk. The title and opening paragraph are designed to scare parents away from raising their kids vegan. Only at the end of the anecdote does the author tell us that the parents in question weren’t even vegan.
Amanda Baker of the Vegan Society says that vegans are more likely to cook at home and are likely to be very knowledgeable about nutrition because their diet requires more circumspection about ingredients. She attributes the paranoia to a lack of information in the hands of everyone from doctors to social workers and other parents.
Of course a vegan diet can be done wrong, just like any other diet can be done wrong, but numerous studies show that there are numerous health benefits for children raised on vegetarian or vegan diets.
The more mainstream that veganism becomes, the more informed the populace is going to be but there will always be ignorant people that make life difficult for the rest of us. The unnamed Greek couple were trying to provide a loving home for a child in need but were turned away because their diet was unconventional.
Their case goes to court on March 16th.