Parents who force a vegan diet on to their children would face prison under a new law proposed in Italy.
Elvira Savino, of centre-right party Forza Italia, has proposed legislation under which parents who provide children aged 16 and under with a "diet lacking essential elements for an healthy growth" face up to two years of prison.
The MP explains in the proposal that in the last few years the belief that vegetarian and vegan diets bring benefits "has been spreading in Italy" and adults are entitled to choose that type of diet.
However, Ms Savino says, minors need to be protected from "radicalised" parents who want to impose on their children a restrictive diet that lack "essential elements needed for an healthy physical and cognitive development."
Ms Savino writes that vegan diets leave children potentially lacking in iron, zinc and B12, which can lead to neurological problems and anaemia, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The MP explains that the aim of the 'Savino Law' is to "definitely stigmatise negligent parental behaviours which put minors at risk."
The proposal would see parents facing up to one year in prison for the basic offence.
However, it could go up to two and a half years if the offence leads to a minor "getting permanently sick or hurt."
If the minor were to die as a result of the basic offence, parent may face up to six years of reclusion.
Any parent forcing a vegan diet on a child aged three or younger would face at least two years of prison.
The proposed legislation follows a number of high-profile cases in which children, some younger than three, malnourished on account of a poorly-constructed vegan diet imposed on them by their parents have been removed from their care.
In June, a two-year-old girl from Genoa had to be put in the resuscitation unit after showing neurological issues. According to doctors her levels of vitamin B12 were extremely low.
The following month, a 14-month-old boy from Milan was taken to hospital with severe calcium deficiency. He weighed as much as a three-month-old child.
Eight per cent of Italians are vegetarian or vegan according to Italian Corriere della Sera.