Vegan Parents Starve 5-Month-Old Son Close to Death to Fit 'Their Lifestyle'
Pair charged with neglect after refusing doctor-prescribed formula for vegan-friendly food
A vegan couple from Florida has been charged with neglect for starving their 5-month-old baby boy close to death after they refused to give him a doctor-prescribed formula, instead opting to feed him a mashed potato concoction they found on the Internet because it was "more consistent with their lifestyle."
The parents, Julia French, 20, and Robert Buskey, 31, of Titusville, Florida, were arrested after investigators found the infant had barely gained any weight since birth.
The baby weighed only 8 pounds, 8 ounces after being recorded at birth at 7 pounds, 9 ounces, according to local news reports.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) described the boy as being obviously malnourished with his eyes appearing sunken and his ribs visible.
One police investigator describes the condition of the child as being the worst case of neglect they had seen.
"At one point, when the child was doing good and healthy and gaining weight, he was on an organic formula and they changed it on their own," said Titusville Police Detective Lauren Watson.
"I've never seen a child to this level, this close to possible death."
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While the couple is unmarried, a person familiar with the investigation told WESH that French claims to be Buskey’s concubine under "Nazarite Hebrew" religious principles.
According to WFTV news, the couple allegedly ignored the type of formula that would fit with their vegan lifestyle ordered by their doctor, and instead fed him on a potato-based creation found on the internet by French.
The parents, who could afford the prescribed formula, did not present a reason as to why they did not provide it to their child, according to police.
According to the Daily Mail, since Wednesday, the infant, who is now in DCF custody, has gained a half a pound on fluids alone.
The baby had been "lethargic and not crying" when found according to court papers, and "had difficulties maintaining his temperature and sugar due to dehydration and malnourishment."
During booking, Buskey appeared to contest the medical reports about his child.
Both Buskey and French are currently being held in Brevard County Jail.