Concerns are being raised about the health implications of children who are vegan as the popularity of alternative-lifestyle choice "veganism" increases across Europe, Breitbart reported. The diet being forced on children by "idealistic" parents might have negative effects, officials in Switzerland said.
"Vegan food is not recommended for young children. It can cause serious harm," Swiss officials said in a statement Friday.
Federal health officials cite the lack of vitamin B12, which is extremely deficient in vegan diets, to be the main cause of the concerns, warning that eliminating animal-derived food at an early age can cause health problems.
Typically, young children receive B12 through breastfeeding, but since vegan mothers' milk remains deficient due to their diet, their children don't receive the same essential nutrients. Vitamin B12 is essential to a functioning nervous system and brain, as well as a number of other essential body functions including the production of blood.
In the past decade, the amount of vegans in the country has increased four-fold to 80,000, which is almost one percent of the Swiss population, TheLocal.ch reported.
"Veganism, an extreme version of vegetarianism, forbids not only meat but all animal products, including dairy such as cheese and milk and in some cases food and drink produced using enzymes and bacteria such as beer and wine," according to Breitbart.
"It has seen a recent upsurge in popularity in Switzerland, a country traditionally highly regarded for its cheese and meat based dishes."
The impact of veganism on infants has been raised in Europe before as well, according to Breitbart.
In 2011, two French vegan parents faced a murder charge after their infant died from a vitamin deficiency caused by the mother's milk. At the time of its death, the child, who was 11 months old, barely weighed two thirds of a healthy baby of that age.