Vegan restaurant raises a ruckus with baby milk policy

Baby drinking milk from a bottle Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Proponents of vegan diets say we should eat only plants and plant-based foods.

A vegan restaurant in the Spanish city of Tarragona has sparked a fierce debate online for asking parents not to bottle-feed their children with milk from animals.

El Vergel de Tarragona claims on its website that a vegan diet is "the healthiest, ethical and sustainable", and warns on its door: "We don't like bottle feeds based on cow's milk. Please don't use them in the restaurant."

When a local paper recently reported negative reviews of the restaurant because of this policy - including one by a mother who said she had been "humiliated" by being reminded of it - El Vergel found its websites inundated with even more hostile comments, El Pais website reports.

But not everyone is against the concept. Reviews on an unofficial Facebook page for the restaurant show strong arguments both ways.

"I applaud the consistency of this restaurant! This is not about a fight between a vegan and a non-vegan, or an attack against bottle feeding over breastmilk. This is about complying with the rules of an establishment," said one user.

Another, however, said: "I am a vegan and I think that, in the case of babies, you are mistaken in thinking it is a matter of reflection... as you know there are no 'vegan' options available. There are choices for everyone but for very young babies there aren't, so I think you should have been more flexible on this point."

El Pais said the restaurant owners intended to stick to their policy. It cited one of them saying: "Mothers who have been genuinely humiliated are those raped throughout their lives to have babies that are then stolen and butchered so that humans can take the milk that was for them: these mothers are cows, sheep, and goats, the victims of the bottle you feed your child."

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