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Vegans Charged With Starving Their Baby

Vegans Charged With Starving Their Baby

French couple Sergine and Joel Le Maoligou appeared before a judge earlier this week, charged with fatally neglecting their 11-month-old child, Louise. Medical experts told the court that the baby, who had been fed only with her mother’s breast milk, was deficient in Vitamin A and B12 vitamins. This is relevant because Sergine and Joel are vegan.

The couple’s veganism is being implicated in what seems like a much more complicated case. Because the couple are “militant vegans” who only use alternative medicine, they must be responsible for recklessly endangering their child with their lifestyle, right? Well, not quite. This perspective ignores the fact that the child was diagnosed with bronchitis and was losing weight when she went in for her 9-month checkup. The couple did not take Louise to the hospital, as their doctor recommended; instead, they tried alternative therapies. So it seems as though this wasn’t just about food deprivation – although it may still be, in some sense, the couple’s fault that Louise died.

The case reveals strong prejudice against vegan parents, since it’s being painted as a “crime directly linked to a vegan lifestyle,” even though that’s clearly not the only factor in baby Louise’s death.  A few weeks ago, writing about vegatarian parents who were denied child adoption rights in Greece, Mac McDaniel wrote, “There’s a special brand of fear-mongering that comes into play when discussing veganism and children.” 

A few years ago, a similar story surfaced in Atlanta, where a vegan couple was sentenced to life in prison for feeding their infant only vegan foods; he died at the age of six weeks. In this case, though, it quickly became clear that this wasn’t healthy veganism, regardless of whether the parents were deliberately underfeeding the child (as the prosecutors claimed). 

While it may not be a deliberate tactic on the part of journalists, it certainly reflects fear and ignorance about veganism. As long as women who breastfeed are healthy themselves, their children will be healthy, regardless of whether they eat meat or animal byproducts. 

The issue, with the French couple, seems to be less about veganism and more about alternative medicine. As blogger Madeline Holler points out, “Instead of standard medical treatment, the parents tried homeopathic ones. That’s not always a bad thing, but the cabbage leaves, mustard and clay didn’t help their girl. Pharmaceuticals could have.” But the whole tragic case is certainly teaching us a valuable lesson about strong prejudices against vegan diets.


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1:34PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

Hmmm, because babies never die when they see a medical doctor. Like Ralph said, the government owns your baby.

12:38AM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Thanks for sharing.

7:18PM PDT on May 13, 2011

The baby should have been fed food at no less than 6 mos. old, fruits, veggies and such. And when they could tell that the baby was not getting better with the alt.meds they should have sought out modern medical services, even someone outside of the parents from their family could have taken them to court to make her parents get her medical care. This says to me "Negligent Homicide" for not seeking medical treatment to help save their baby. I hope the state takes them to court for trial, this baby SUFFERED for at least the last 5 months of her little life.

2:17AM PDT on May 13, 2011

Be cautious, your governmemt owns your baby.

11:45PM PDT on Apr 23, 2011

It was the lack of medication. As long as the Mother's healthy, so is the baby. I can't understand why they would risk their baby's life! Surely, atleast when the illness was further on they would have done something about it. If a mother only eats junk food and the baby dies, would she be prosecuted for it? With a proper and varied vegetarian/vegan diet the baby would have been more healthy than a baby breat fed on junk food.

10:19AM PDT on Apr 7, 2011

People who don't avail themselves of modern medicine when someone is dying are insane in my book, whether they are Fundamentalists or Vegans or whatever.

The child could have been saved with basic antibiotics. It's either criminal negligence or criminal insanity and deserves to be prosecuted as such.

Some people might complain about 'prejudice towards Christians' if a Fundamentalist won't give their kid antivenom after they got bitten by a rattlesnake (actually happened) and then was prosecuted. I disagree; the authorities were doing their job. Same thing in this case.

We can't pick and choose ideologies or lifestyles to defend or attack when it comes to human life at risk. Justice should be blind to that.

7:12PM PDT on Apr 5, 2011


6:46PM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

So sad!

1:56AM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

It's not that the veganism killed the baby. At 11 months old, the baby should have been eating solid foods, not solely relying on mother's milk. Most of us start feeding our babies rice cereal when they're approximately 4 months old, and by the time they're 6 months old, can eat whipped potatoes, pureed carrots, apple sauce, etc.

So instead of blaming the veganism for killing their child, they should have been educated on how they can properly feed their baby on a vegan diet. Sad situation all the way around, and I can't believe that a couple whose conscious over the type of diet they eat doesn't know they're supposed to FEED their baby some real food, not stay on a liquid diet?

3:40PM PDT on Apr 4, 2011

..extremist views forced on an innocent...x

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