Vegan Parents Avoid Jail After Strict Plant-Based Diet Leaves Baby Severely Brain Damaged

The vegan parents of a baby girl have avoided jail after a court heard their strict diet left their baby daughter with severe brain damage.

The duo, who live in Australia, were warned by health experts that their daughter wasn't getting enough nutrients from their own plant-based diet but chose to ignore them.

The parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, avoided jail after pleading guilty to negligently causing serious injury in the County Court of Victoria on Monday.

Instead, Judge Claire Quin ordered that the mother and father serve a 12-month community corrections order and undertake mental health treatment.

The website news.com.au reported that the little girl was left with the "devastating" permanent disability cerebral palsy caused from malnutrition because of the strict diet.

baby ashes
A file photograph of a baby's feet. Vegan parents have avoided jail after a court heard their strict diet caused their daughter to suffer from the devastating disability cerebral palsy. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The news channel said the 12-month-old baby was rushed to Geelong's emergency department in August 2018 where doctors discovered bruising, open wounds, rashes and skin discolouration.

Medics found she had internal bleeding, blood in her stool and needed life support.
The court was told experts also found the baby had severe protein-calorie malnutrition known as "Kwashiorkor", which is often seen in children from countries experiencing a famine, reported the news outlet.

A week before the 34-year-old father rushed the baby to hospital, the court was told he had written an email to a herbal health club based in the U.S. asking for advice.

According to the news channel, the email to the consultant said: "Hi my 1-year-old has stopped wanting to drink/eat and when she does, it's not staying down or she starts to cough.

"What can I do to help her keep it down and allow her to drink? She doesn't have a temp. She is on a fruit diet. Please help asap."

However, the court heard that instead of advising him to take the child to hospital, the consultant suggested a "stomach tea" for the baby, said news.com.au.

It is reported the child spent a month in intensive care and weighed 6.04 k.g when she was admitted.

The court was told that when the baby stopped breastfeeding in 2017, the parents fed the infant a mix of coconut water and powders instead of formula.

A maternal nurse was concerned about the baby's growth and told the couple in an email that the coconut milk was nutritionally inadequate for the child but instead of taking her advice, they skipped appointments.

The news website reported that the couple disengaged with medical professionals and turned to the internet looking at alternative websites in the U.S. and Canada.

The 32-year-old mother sent a message to her partner asking if he would raise the issue of their daughter's "weight loss and floppiness of her body" with the consultant in the U.S.

The parents have separated and the now three-year-old girl is in the care of the mother who shows a "commitment and devotion" to her daughter and engages with healthcare professionals, reported the news channel.

Sparing them jail, Quin told the parents their daughter had a long road ahead of her, but her condition had improved with the benefit of a balanced diet and proper healthcare.

Quin added: "She faces a difficult and challenging life."