Are kids too young to understand veganism?
April 24th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
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Parents have many talks with their kids as they grow up. There's the "birds and the bees" talk and the "sharing is caring" talk, or even the "don't be a bully" talk. Now, author Ruby Roth wants parents to have the "If it's too scary to talk about while we're eating, it's too scary to eat" discussion with their children.

Roth is talking about veganism. Like vegetarians, vegans don't eat meat, but they take that philosophy a few steps further. Vegans won't consume or use any products that contain any part of an animal. For example, they don't eat eggs or dairy and won't wear leather.

Her new children's book, "Vegan is Love," is causing quite a stir, with some critics saying she's scaring children into a lifestyle choice that young kids aren't equipped to make.

The 40 page book, officially geared towards 7-year-olds, features bright illustrations by Roth herself. Some of the illustrations are graphic. One depicts mice and bunnies and dogs and cats in a lab. They have oozing sores on their bodies and appear to be in a great deal of pain and suffering. Another is of a family of polar bears huddled on a tiny ice sheet.

In the book, Roth also advocates that children not go to zoos, aquariums or the circus: a potentially difficult concept for a young child to understand.

Roth herself is stepmother to a 7-year-old vegan and knew there would be some backlash. "These are all things every vegan hears on a daily basis. Of course there are going to be questions about misinformation," she says.

Roth became a vegan after being challenged to do so, and the lifestyle stuck. "I lost weight, had more energy, and never went back." Asked what she missed the most about her non-vegan lifestyle, "Shoes!" she says. "I cannot wait for more mainstream shoe lines to get a clue."

She has written two children's books on the subject, the first one is called "That's Why We Don't Eat Animals".

On the seemingly graphic nature of some of the illustrations she says, "I don't think that there's anything in my book that a kid wouldn't see walking in a supermarket or watching TV. I didn't exaggerate anything. I wanted kids to recognize what they see in the book."

One of the book's themes is to "teach kids we don't have to fear anything that we have the power to change." Roth also wants the public to look into what she calls the truth behind the animal and agricultural industries in America. She claims, "If the American public knew about the abuse, the outrage would be directed at the industry and not this children's book."

Asked how she'd react if her daughter decided to leave veganism, Roth says "I will never try to control what she eats, in the end it's up to her. The best we can do is make sure our kids have the information [they need] to make choices. My hope was to reach people who raise kids to love deeply."

Previously - Clarified: Vegans, pescetarians, raw foodists and other dietary tribes

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Filed under: Animal Rights • Food Politics • Vegan • Vegetarian


soundoff (1,129 Responses)
  1. breton

    What's interesting to me while going through these comments is how many people are using evolution, our teeth, "nature", our digestive systems etc to justify eating meat. What is so often overlooked is that there is no longer anything "natural" about eating meat, it is filled with everything from formaldehyde to dyes, antibiotics, sex hormones, and more. We need to stop talking about where we "came from" since this argument is no longer valid. It's time to be progressive and start changing the way we eat and the way we treat other sentient beings.

    There is nothing wrong with raising vegan children, I know several vegan moms and children who are thriving on vegan diets. Like any diet, you must be getting adequate nutrition. It is interesting how many people are against "vegan parenting" when they most likely feed their children McNuggets – which in my opinion is blatant child abuse.

    May 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Thierry

      Are kids too young to understand meat-eating?

      February 4, 2013 at 12:21 am |
  2. OmniFoody

    While I am not a Vegan, nor even Vegetarian, I do think that there is a responsibility on the consumer and the producer of meat to ensure that the quality of life for an animal is not so as to bring undue suffering. However, before anyone goes about spouting that the Industry should "spare no expense" or "make the life of the animal foremost in thought and consideration" you have to realize the economic considerations. Capitalism holds sway in America. everyone wants their "fair share" and they always want to make more money. Convincing an industrial giant to basically throw money down the toilet (in their eyes) is like convincing a lion to eat grass. Good luck and hope you don't miss the hand you are trying to feed it with.
    It needs to be a lucrative investment, otherwise stock holders will not support healthier and happier livestock. The worst thing I see here is, that taking that into consideration is the last thing Activists do. Stop presenting problems that we all know exist and present solutions. How can you improve the living conditions, diet and death of a livestock to be consumed for the benefit of the food chain without destroying the profit margin of those that supply that service? Figure that out, and you deserve a Nobel Prize.

    May 4, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Info

      We vote with our dollars and by publicizing what companies are up to, OmniFoody. For example, companies, like Burger King or MacDonalds, don't want the taint of animal cruelty associated with them. Burger King will no longer buy eggs from producers that use battery cages ... so either we use legislation to protect animals or we push companies - by the use of public campaigns - into making the right choices.

      May 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  3. Jordan

    Scarying kids into a decision???? Um what do millions of Americans do to them about religion. This actually saves lives of animals,but all religion does is controll and scare kids to think they will be on fire when they die.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • breton

      So true!

      May 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  4. Cynthia Ford Clark

    I happen to enjoy eating vegan food cooked at "Everlasting Life" in Capitol Heights, MD. It is cheaper for me to eat at the restaurant and getting a balanced meal. Since eating vegan, my cholesterol went from 213 to 193, my sugar 112 to 93 within 1 month. Before we can teach our children, we must educate the parent first (my opinion). I don't recall my grandmother abusing any animal on the farm. I stopped drinking milk when it changed colors!! A fresh chicken is white not tinted tan. Meet is injected with dye...nope eating differently now.

    May 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  5. Silver

    The outrage that this book has prompted is amazing. If this author is a vegan and it works for her, that's great. If she wants her kids to be vegan and they're healthy, that's great too. If you disagree with the book, there's nothing wrong with that. You don't have to read it and you don't have to follow this particular lifestyle. Ruby Roth isn't going to chase you into your house and make you either read the book or eat the way she does. But if you're interested in being vegan or already practicing that way of eating, this is a potential resource.

    May 2, 2012 at 8:33 am |
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