Vegan Parents Face Jail Over Malnourished Baby: Father Victim of a 'Vegan and Anti-Vax Witch Hunt,' Lawyer Says

Australian parents who fed their child a vegan diet could face jail after she became so malnourished she had no teeth. Downing Centre Court in Sydney heard the 20-month-old was also suffering from rickets, a bone condition commonly caused by a lack of vitamin D or calcium, News.com.au reported.

The foster mother who took over the girl's care told the court of how she saw the girl being fed through a tube in hospital in August 2018. "I remember thinking, 'how terrifying,'" she said. "She couldn't sit up… she couldn't say any words… she couldn't hold her bottle," the carer said according to 7news.com.au.

The 20-month-old girl is 76 centimeters tall (2.5 feet) and wears clothing fit for a 12-month-old, the court heard. "People are shocked at how small she is" the foster mother said.

The child is now "technically obese" due to her abnormal stature, she said according to the Australian Associated Press. "It's like her body is storing calories in case she needs them in the future." The parents' actions will have a "long-term impact" on the child's development, the carer said according to 7news.com.au.

Now, the child must undergo monthly and bimonthly blood tests which have left her traumatised, the woman said according to News.com.au. "She begins to scream and cry if she goes into a medical room and the door is closed."

The father, 34, and the mother, 32, who were not publicly identified, pleaded guilty in court to failing to provide for their daughter, the Australian Associated Press reported.

The girl was taken to hospital in March 2018 after she experienced a seizure. Police arrested the couple on April 6, 2018. They faced court in May last year after police said the child was malnourished, Associated Newspapers reported.

The couple's relationship broke down amid allegations of an affair, the court heard. The child's diet was "severely lacking in nutrients for her to thrive," police said, according to News.com.au.

Documents seen by News.com.au showed the mother told doctors she would feed the baby a cup of oats with rice milk and half a banana in the morning. For lunch, the child would have toast with peanut butter or jam. She would give the child tofu, potatoes or rice, but as she was "fussy" she might end up eating oats once again.

Police learned the child was not vaccinated, had no birth certificate, and had no medical check-ups.

The lawyer representing the child's mother cited medical records showing she was depressed. She said three hours after the baby was born her client left the hospital, and she failed to register the birth or get the child vaccinated.

The solicitor representing the father claimed the mother "dictated" their home and that he was neither a vegan, nor anti-vax. He said his client did the driving, cooking, cleaning and shopping.

The media had launched a "vegan and anti-vax witch hunt" against him, the solicitor claimed. Judge Sarah Huggett​ rejected the suggestion that the toddler's father was "powerless" in preventing his daughter from falling ill.

The parents will be sentenced in June, and could face up to five years in jail, according to 9news.com.au.

Vegan Parents Face Jail Over Malnourished Baby: Father Victim of a 'Vegan and Anti-Vax Witch Hunt,' Lawyer Says | Health