An Australian toddler whose vegan parents allegedly fed her a strict, plant-based diet was so malnourished that, at 19 months of age, she had no teeth and weighed only 11 pounds.
As The Sydney Morning Herald reports, the parents were brought before a court this week to answer charges of child neglect. Their names have not been provided because Australian media generally does not reveal the names of criminal suspects.
The girl, who is now 3-years-old and recovering in foster care, was brought to the attention of child welfare authorities in March 2018, when she was taken to a hospital after suffering a seizure. A foster-care specialist brought in to evaluate the young girl said that she couldn’t sit up, roll over, or hold her own bottle, even though she was almost 2-years-old.
She had no teeth and weighed only 11 pounds. Authorities said she resembled a child of about 3-months-old.
Authorities say she got that way because her strict vegan parents fed her only oats, potatoes, rice, tofu, bread, peanut butter, and rice milk. For snacks, she would be given a handful of fruit or a couple of raisins.
Furthermore, the couple allegedly did not vaccinate the baby.
The young girl has since been taken into foster care and is on the mend. Now almost 3-years-old, she’s achieved many, but not all, of the developmental milestones that a girl her age should have achieved, says her foster care worker.
“When she meets new people socially they always ask her age and are shocked how small she is.”
In fact, she’s gained weight but not height, and so disproportionate is her height to her weight that she’s now considered obese by Australian medical standards.
The father’s defense attorney, Frank Coyne, tried to place the blame for the baby’s malnourishment on the baby’s mother, saying he was so busy with work that he didn’t have time to monitor her or take her to medical appointments. Psychiatrists brought in by the defense have suggested that the mother was suffering from post-partum depression.
Both parents have pleaded guilty to failing to provide for her causing danger of serious injury. They each face five years in prison.
According to Parents magazine, it is possible to feed a baby a vegan diet, but it requires great care and careful attention. For example, a vegan baby may require a vitamin supplement or fortified cereals to provide nutrients that would otherwise come from meat or dairy.