for abc.net.au on March 17, 2011
A vegetarian couple on the Greek island of Crete have been barred from adopting a child because of doubts about their diet, a local social welfare official said.
The decision was taken because the would-be adoptive parents, who have gone to court to overturn it, eat no meat or fish and officials feared this regimen would be applied to the child as well.
"We asked the University of Crete medical school on the issue and they said the child's diet must include meat, fish, etc," the head of the city's welfare services, Spyros Epitropakis, said.
"We do not discriminate but we were obliged to check this out. The issue is now in the hands of the judicial authorities," he added.
The university expert whose recommendation was used by the welfare services to reject the application has labelled the affair "unreasonable".
"It's unreasonable not to be given the child for being vegetarian," said Antonis Kafatos, a paediatrician and nutrition researcher.
"A child needs to eat fish, seafood and dairy products among other things, without meat being essential. But if the family has no intention of imposing its diet habits on the child, I don't see where the problem is," he said.
The case is to be examined on March 16 on ABC.
Greece has one of the lowest birth rates in the European Union. Strict procedures covering adoption in the country often force couples to seek other options, such as adopting children sold by migrant gangs.