As the popularity of alternative-lifestyle choice ‘veganism’ increases across Europe, officials in Switzerland have expressed concerns about the health implications for children who have the unusual diet forced on them by “idealistic” parents.
In the statement, Swiss officials said: “Vegan food is not recommended for young children. It can cause serious harm”. The lack of vitamin B12, which is seriously deficient in Vegan diets is the main cause of the interjection by federal health officials, who have warned denying children access to animal-derived food at an early age can cause health problems.
Vitamin B12 is essential to a functioning nervous system and brain, as well as a number of other essential body functions including the production of blood. Young children normally receive the B12 they need by breastfeeding, but in the case of Vegan mothers the milk is deficient.
TheLocal.ch reports the number of Vegans has increased fourfold in the last decade to 80,000, which is almost one percent of the Swiss population.
Veganism, an extreme version of vegetarianism forbids not only meat but all animal products, including dairy such as cheese and milk and in some cases food and drink produced using enzymes and bacteria such as beer and wine. It has seen a recent upsurge in popularity in Switzerland, a country traditionally highly regarded for its cheese and meat based dishes.
This is not the first time concerns have been expressed over the impact of Veganism on infants has been raised in Europe. Two French vegan parents faced a murder charge in 2011 after their infant died from a vitamin deficiency caused by the mothers milk. At the time of its death the child, which was 11 months old, barely weighed two thirds that of a healthy baby of that age.