This vegan mum has been accused of child neglect.

She was trying to do what she felt was right for her baby…

A mother arrested for refusing to giver her baby formula. Refusing a doctor’s orders, all due to staunch vegan beliefs. It makes you shake your head, doesn’t it?

But are we, at times, too quick to judge?

The mother in question, 23-year-old Sarah Anne Markham, from Florida, US, was arrested in June after refusing to give her baby formula she believed was made with animal products.

According to WKMG-TV, Markham, a strict vegan, took her baby boy to a pediatrician because he was failing to put on weight. Caleb had lost ten per cent of his body weight since birth. It was enough to make any doctor worry. The pediatrician insisted she take two-week-old Caleb to hospital for re-hydration and tried to give the baby medicine.

Sarah Anne Markham

But according to police, Markham refused the medicine because it contained “non-vegan ingredients”. She was then ordered by the doctor to take her baby straight to emergency, where a bed was waiting for the sick infant.

Again the mother refused.

She wanted to supplement breast milk with a soy formula. Reports at the time revealed Markham is a Seventh Day Adventist and, in accordance with her religion, was concerned the hospital would provide baby formula made from animal products.

The police were called to Markham's home and she was arrested and charged with criminal neglect.

Here’s the kicker though, she also lost custody of her son.

At the time, many felt the young mother was a danger to her baby and that she should be stripped of her right to look after him.


Her case has been heard in court and Markham has been granted temporary custody of Caleb, pending she provide a nutritionist's report within ten days.


Before this the baby was being cared for by his grandparents, who have had him on soy formula since his mother’s arrest. As mother and son were reunited, grandfather Bo Markham said that there simply is no case against his daughter.

"There's no abuse, there's no neglect—there's simply a doctor who has been challenged by a mother, and he didn't like it," he said. Bo Markham also told reporters that Caleb now weighs seven kilos.

The case attracted worldwide attention at the time, with many angry that a mother would put her son’s life at risk in order to conform to religious beliefs.

Bo Markham and baby Caleb.

Many mothers have struggled to feed their babies, and know all too well the pain of watching your baby fail to thrive.

Sarah Markham loved her son enough to take him to the pediatrician in the first place. Perhaps her desperation over his condition, coupled with the anxiety of the first few weeks of motherhood, led the young woman to make questionable decisions like, refusing to go to hospital.

The fact Caleb is thriving in his grandparent’s care – on the very diet that his mother wanted him on in the first place - is proof enough that, in some cases, there really are two sides to every story.

Want more? Try these:

"Vegans, stop it. You're depriving your child."

If you go vegan, do your kids have to follow?

“What the so-called experts didn’t tell me about formula.”

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