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Germany’s first vegan kindergarten: progressive education or physical abuse?

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Germany’s first vegan kindergarten: progressive education or physical abuse?
Photo: DPA
15:14 CET+01:00
In August the Mokita Kindergarten is set to open in Frankfurt, offering parents the chance to send their children to a preschool where there are no meat, egg or dairy products on the menu. The concept has come in for heavy criticism from city politicians.

The kindergarten, which will at first care for 40 children, has set itself ambitious goals. Their stated aim is to create toddlers with the ability “to take account of conflicting goals when considering strategies for action” and to “reflect their own mission statements and those of others.”

While these ideas might sound rather ambitious for preschoolers, the intent to feed them a strictly vegan diet is what has made the Mokita preschool so controversial.

Stefan von Wangenheim of the Free Democrats told the Frankfurter Rundschau (FR) that a specialist told him that “one could see this as a form of physical abuse.”

“If parents were to send their kids to a Kindergarten which only provided fast food that would be just as dangerous for them as a vegan diet,” von Wangenheim said.

Even the eco-friendly Green Party don't seem impressed.

“I almost had a heart attack when I heard about it,” Birgit Ross of the Greens told the FR.

The opening of Germany’s first all-vegan kindergarten has also been met with raised eyebrows among nutritional experts.

“We are very sceptical about this,” a spokeswoman for the German Nutritional Society (DGE) told The Local on Wednesday. “While we don’t fundamentally recommend parents not to raise young children vegan, it needs to be done with a high level of knowledge and the additional use of supplements.”

In a position paper published in 2016, the DGE said that “with a pure plant-based diet, it is difficult or impossible to attain an adequate supply of some nutrients.”

The DGE says that it does not recommend a vegan diet for pregnant women, lactating women, infants, children or adolescents.

“Persons who nevertheless wish to follow a vegan diet should permanently take a vitamin B12 supplement, pay attention to an adequate intake of nutrients, especially critical nutrients, and possibly use fortified foods or dietary supplements,” the position paper states.

Frankfurt city authorities, meanwhile, say that while they have given the kindergarten permission to open, they will be keeping a close eye on it.

A spokesperson for the city education authority said that the children at Mokita would be part of a scientific study to improve knowledge about vegan nutrition for children.

The little ones are to undergo regular examinations by doctors, and if anything unusual arises, the city will step in.

SEE ALSO: School kids don't have right to vegan food, Berlin court rules

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