“How wonderful that at this very moment, every person big and small has the power to create a better world.”
That’s how Ruby Roth, author of “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals” begins her newest children’s book, “Vegan Is Love.” The book, told from a vegan perspective, explains why people are vegan by explaining in simple terms all the ways humans use animals — from cosmetic testing to clothing to sea parks to meat — as well as touching on issues like organic farming and global warming.
“Vegan is Love” prompts the question: how much do we want our kids to know about the way we treat animals? And it’s sparking controversy among parents.
The American Dietetic Association has officially said that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet is “healthful and nutritious for adults, infants, children and adolescents and can help prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.” But it’s one thing to immerse a child in the utopia of fresh veggies and plant protein and another to reveal that animals in circuses are hit with whips so they’ll perform and that meat like turkey legs and ribs are…well, someone’s legs and ribs.
I’ve read through the book myself and, personally, I don’t find anything gruesome or graphic about it. The book is beautifully illustrated in a whimsical and playful artistic style and has a gentle, articulate voice — a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, after all. And though it does deliver some difficult truths, its overarching message is that everyone, including children, has the power to make the world a better place and to act according to what you believe. Instead of sheltering children from the real world, it entrusts them with knowledge that might not be pleasant but is true, and lets them know that even they, no matter who small or young they feel, can make a difference. It’s a message that many adults could stand to learn, too.
The question of how much should we reveal to our kids about animal [mis]treatment should also be accompanied by: how much do we trust our kids? How much do we respect them? Are parent’s “protecting” their kids from this knowledge — this reality — because they’re afraid to face it themselves? I’ve met many adults who, when confronted with the information that their shampoo was tested on bunny rabbits or their steak is the carcass of a cow, say they “don’t want to think about it.” If our eyes were opened earlier, would we be less reluctant to accept reality and act in accordance with our values?
Vegan is Love’s message is meant to educate and empower kids; to help them decide what kind of person they want to be. Vegan doesn’t mean walking around in a world of doom and gloom, it’s knowing that actions have consequences, and small choices we make every day make a difference. It’s respecting animals and the planet. It’s acting according to what you believe. To sum it up, vegan is love — and that’s a lesson for children (of all ages) to learn.
Below is the video trailer for “Vegan is Love” with the author, Ruby Roth. You can watch her segment on the Today show here.
Tell us: Do you think we should teach kids the realities of how humans treat animals?
You can order “Vegan is Love” or Roth’s first book “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals” online, or look for it at your local bookstore.
Photo credit: Ruby Roth
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
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