Nursery was wrong to expel vegan child: court

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A vegan meal. Photo: Jennifer/Flickr
10:34 CEST+02:00
A court in the northern Italian province of Alto Adige has ruled that a nursery school was wrong to expel a child whose mother requested that he be fed a vegan diet.

The dispute dates back to February, when a young mother in the town of Merano attempted to put her 10-month-old son on a vegan diet at his nursery.

Not only did the nursery refuse the woman's requests, it then asked her to produce a medical certificate proving the health of her vegan son.

When the young mother refused, her son was forced to leave the nursery and a legal battle ensued.

The local education authority defended its actions, arguing that a vegan diet is dangerous for children, especially at pre-school age.

But the mother argued that the benefits of a vegan diet were scientifically proven and that the expulsion of her child had been unfair and disproportionate.

The court ruled in favour of the mother, saying that the nursery's request was not in line with current norms, and that the child's explusion was excessive and discriminatory.

The court ordered that the child be reinstated in the nursery and that the local education authority cover the mother's legal costs.

The mother's lawyer, Carlo Prisco, told La Stampa that the case was a “milestone” in the recognition of alternative diets.

“Certificates are not needed to get vegan meals at any age,” he said, adding that the ruling would be useful in future cases "when institutions and public administration attempt to stop citizens from exercising their right to make ethical dietary choices."

The case is just the latest in a string of high-profile stories involving vegan parents in Italy.

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In May, an Italian court ordered a vegan mother to cook meat once a week for her child, while last month the vegan parents of a malnourished 11-year-old were questioned by the police.

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