Vegan couple whose strict plant-based diet gave their infant daughter brain damage avoid jail by pleading guilty

Vegan couple whose strict plant-based diet gave their infant daughter brain damage avoid jail by pleading guilty

An Australian couple so dedicated to veganism that they deprived their infant daughter of critical nutrients and gave her cerebral palsy have avoided jail by pleading guilty to negligently causing serious injury to the child.



a hand holding a violin: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 24370696  Poor sick baby  C By C. Vanrintel


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Royalty-free stock photo ID: 24370696 Poor sick baby C By C. Vanrintel

The plea, entered Monday in the County Court of Victoria, also enabled them to retain custody of the girl, who they so severely malnourished that doctors treating her said she presented with symptoms normally only found in famine-stricken countries.

The girl, now 3, suffered crippling brain damage, has cerebral palsy due to the malnutrition and “faces a difficult and challenging life,” the judge said, according to the website News.com.au.

Instead of converting her to solid food at 4 months as her mother’s milk supply ebbed, the parents ditched established medical expertise and put their faith in alternative-health websites in Queensland, Australia, and the U.S., News.com.au said.

They fed her coconut milk, fruit juices, smoothies, plant-based foods and formula made by the dad, prosecutors alleged.

As a result, the baby’s cognitive development, physical functioning and communication were impaired and her development curtailed, reported The Age.

At least one medical professional told them as much, but they ignored her and merely stopped showing up for doctor appointments.

“The coconut mixture is definitely not appropriate as this is not nutritionally adequate for an infant,” one nurse told them in an email, advice that they ignored.

By the time they started seeking actual medical attention, the 1-year-old weighed just 13 pounds. She was brought to the hospital in August 2018 with “widespread bruising, discolored skin, rashes covering her body and multiple open wounds,” The Age reported. “She was bleeding internally, had blood in her stool, and had to be put on life support in the intensive care unit.”

She spent a month in the ICU.

The parents have since split, and the mother has custody, though dad visits regularly, The Age said. Mom now shows a “commitment and devotion” to her daughter and shows up for doctor appointments, the website News.com.au reported.

The two are considered good candidates for rehab, Judge Claire Quin said as she sentenced them to serve a 12-month community corrections order and undergo mental health treatment, according to News.com.au. In addition, the father must complete 75 hours of volunteer work, The Age reported.

“The time you now spend with [the daughter] is a constant reminder of your actions and acts as extra-curial punishment for both of you,” Quin said, according to The Age.

According to The Age, the father has renounced his strict veganism and now eats meat.

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