A Pennsylvania woman obsessed with an extreme vegan lifestyle has been charged with child endangerment after allegedly only feeding her 11-month-old boy nuts and berries, Pennsylvania Live reported.
Elizabeth Hawk was charged with behavior that caused multiple health issues for the infant that eventually led to him being hospitalized. A family member, Brandy Hawk, said the boy’s poor nutrition had hampered his motor skills and made him develop severe rashes that made it difficult for him to move around.
“It was his motor skills, he couldn’t use his hands at all…she was going to live on water and sunlight.”
She added that when the little boy scratched the rashes on his body, his skin peeled off. The 33-year-old Hawk had consistently shrugged off any health concerns expressed by friends and family, attributing the boy’s problems to simple allergies.
The estranged father, Jerry Hawk, was the person who alerted welfare officials about the mother’s “madness” about diets, which had left the child dangerously undernourished. Fayette County Children and Youth Services had taken the boy to the hospital, where a doctor said he was “failing to thrive” as a result of poor nutrition.
The boy is doing much better and is now staying with his father. The estranged couple’s other two children are also with Jerry Hawk. Elizabeth has been released on the basis of her own recognizance and will appear in court in November.
This case occurred just months after another Pennsylvania couple was charged for allegedly starving their 23-month-old daughter to death. Andrea and Michael Wright had taken their child, Lydia Wright, to the hospital claiming that she was sick. When the child died, an autopsy revealed the little girl starved to death.
According to a criminal complaint, the Fayette County couple had taken the girl to the hospital and told doctors the girl had been drinking “a mixture of water, Gatorade and Pedialyte from a sippie cup when her eyes rolled into the back of her head, foam began to emit from her nose and mouth, and she quit breathing.”
Investigations later showed that couple had left the child in a car seat for 13 hours outside their Uniontown residence from 9 p.m. to 10:30 a.m., the following morning. The child had died of malnutrition and dehydration. The medical examiner also confirmed that the child weighed 10 pounds; an average toddler is meant to weigh between 20-25 pounds.
An inspection of the Wright’s home revealed deplorable conditions that children were not meant to live in. There was no running water and sewage system in the house. Authorities discovered a grocery bag filled with tampons, chairs covered with excrement, toilets brimming with feces, and confirmed that the family urinated in juice bottles and empty soda cans.
The rooms were strewn with so much clutter, police and welfare officials found it difficult to wade through. Even though the couple was not charged for drug use, syringes and open prescription pill bottles were discovered in the family bathroom. The couple had two other children besides Lydia.
In Italy, putting babies on vegan diets has proved to be controversial, with the government saying they would jail anyone found culpable of putting Italian babies on diets. This comes on the heels of several cases where infants have been hospitalized after being placed on vegetarian diets.
However, the vegan community is fighting back by arguing that giving the impression that vegan diets are harmful to children is wrong. Experts say the diet is well-suited for children, but that extra care needs to be taken to make sure kids get all required nutrients and not suffer any lack of vitamins, especially vitamin B12. They also advise using vitamin supplements to provide a fully balanced diet.
An expert said Elizabeth Hawk was an extreme vegetarian whose emphasis on a diet of only fruits and nuts led to the severe undernourishment of her infant.
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