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This Italian article is describing a law proposition made by an Italian politician who would like to impose to individuals which don't reach the age of 16 years a non-vegan diet, punishing with jail the parents that disobey.

It's an initiative from some years ago, that did not encounter consensus and led to nothing but buzz. But the aspect of someone being imposed by the law of the majority a life-style that is not suiting his person is quite a frightening idea.

Is there any tool in international right that recognizes the freedom of individuals, of their family, of their offspring to make deliberate dietary choices?

By extension, would this right be powerful enough to enforce, wherever applied, the obligation for a libertarian country to provide a vegan dietary option in schools, hospitals, prisons?

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Veganism is a protected belief under the European Convention on Human Rights, as mentioned here in The (UK) Vegan Society's key facts page - see also this recent update.

Veganism is protected as a human right under Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

This does mean, I believe, that prisons, hospitals and schools, for example, need to provide vegan options if they are requested.

Here is the treaty and here is the information on when each state signed and ratified it. It applies across the EU, in my understanding.

I suppose we are waiting for an update as to its future applicability in the UK :(

Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

  2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

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    Article 9 is "Freedom of thought, conscience and religion" – ChrisW Apr 6 '17 at 1:06
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    Does it apply to the whole of EU or is this only for the UK? – Petar Vasilev Apr 7 '17 at 6:57
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    @PetarVasilev EU-wide, but perhaps we should be asking whether it will continue to apply in the UK :( I updated my answer – Zanna Apr 7 '17 at 7:12
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    If I were skeptical I would want another source other than the vegan society's saying that (i.e. for their interpretation that the article has that effect): for example, evidence that vegan meals are made available on request in prison in France or Italy; or a court ruling or something like that. I accept it's likely to be de facto true in England. – ChrisW Apr 7 '17 at 11:07
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    There's an activist group promoting support for vegan prisoners in the UK: the Vegan Prisoners Support Group (VPSG). They state that "prisoners who have chosen a vegan way of life must be issued with a suitable vegan diet. Provided that the Governor is satisfied that the grounds are genuine, and subject to the policy and guidance contained in PSI 44/2010, together with the Directory and Guide on Religious Practices in NOMS, the normal diet may be varied accordingly." – cellu Apr 15 '17 at 8:48
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The International Vegan Rights Alliance has analyzed different international laws regarding to the consideration of veganism:

  • the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (UDHR)
  • the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rightsemphasized text" (ICCPR)
  • the "International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights" (ICESCR, especially the "right to culturally acceptable food")
  • the "UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief" (UN Declaration)

While they do find that veganism is covered by the laws in general, they conclude that every individual case might still need to be considered separately:

Despite the fact that veganism comes within the scope of human rights and equality provisions each case presents different circumstances which are sometimes complex in the context of what has to be considered in legal reasoning.

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There are government restrictions on what parents can do to their children. For example, in Australia, parents are not allowed to have their children subjected to FGM, and they are penalised if their children don't have vaccinations ("no jab no pay" and "no jab no play"). It's therefore possible for governments to have restrictions against parents "forcing" their children to be vegan or vegetarian, and like with FGM and vaccination, they can claim that veg*n is a threat to the health of the child. (Note that I'm not stating here that veg*nism is actually detrimental to someone's health in reality) I suspect they could even cite the UN declaration of human rights if they wanted, citing the right of people to life and good health.

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