Doctors in Belgium have stated that raising children on a vegan diet is "unethical" and should be a criminal offence. Vegans refrain from consuming any animal products, including meat, eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived substances. The Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium has declared that veganism is "unsuitable for unborn children, children, teenagers, and pregnant and lactating women". Professor Georges Casimir said vegan parenting qualifies as "non-assistance to a person in danger," which is a criminal offence that carries a prison sentence of up to two years. He said children need "higher requirements for protein and essential fatty acids" and that these nutrients must be from animal products.
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The animal rights group PETA reacted angrily to the ruling of the Belgian medical association. It rejected the ruling and called it "ignorant codswallop". PETA spokeswoman Dawn Carr said: "Nutritionists confirm that while a meat- and dairy-based diet is what strikes people down in adulthood (as it can lead to hardened arteries that cause stroke, brain aneurysms, and heart attacks) a well-planned vegan diet is perfect for babies and children." She added: "Kids, including my own, thrive on a balanced vegan diet, but as with any dietary regime, it's the parents' responsibility to ensure their child is getting all the necessary nutrients." Around three per cent of Belgian children live in vegan families.