1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Sydney parents who fed daughter vegan diet avoid jail

Chase Winter
August 22, 2019

The toddler suffered from severe malnutrition due to being fed a conservative vegan diet. A judge said the nutrition was "completely inadequate" for a baby.

Australia, Sydney | Trial against vegan parents
The photograph of the then-19-months-old, malnourished baby was presented as evidence in courtImage: picture-alliance/dpa/AAP/H. Higgins

An Australian couple who neglected their baby by feeding her a strict vegan diet will not go to jail, local media reported on Thursday.

Sydney District Court Judge Sarah Huggett said during the sentencing that the vegan diet was "completely inadequate" for the toddler's development.  

Read more: Poor eating habits killing millions globally, study says

"This child was severely malnourished, underweight and undersized, and delayed as far as age-appropriate milestones were concerned," Huggett said, according to Australian broadcaster ABC. The child was also not given the recommended vaccinations.

The 35-year-old man and 33-year-old woman were given an 18-month intensive corrections order and 300 hours of community service.

The couple was charged last year when their 19-month daughter had a seizure and was admitted to a local hospital.

Read more: Visiting vegan: Could you give up animal products for a week? 

Hospital tests showed the toddler had severe malnourishment, no teeth and thin bones. She weighed only 4.89 kilograms (11 pounds) and resembled a three-month-old baby.

For the first 19-months of her life the baby was given a "conservative vegan diet" consisting of oats with olive oil, rice milk, vegetables, rice, potatoes and tofu as well as fruit, the court heard.

The couple pled guilty in December to failing to provide for a child, causing danger and serious injury.

The maximum sentence for the offense was five years in prison.

Now three years old, the daughter lives with relatives but continues to suffer from height and weight deficiencies. The parents have visiting rights, but access to the child is supervised.

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.


Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage