Ruby Roth, author of popular children's books Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action and That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things, is inspiring the next generation with her message of compassion for all animals. We recently sat down with Ruby to talk about her new book, V Is for Vegan: The ABC's of Being Kind. Ruby also shared her tips for addressing veganism with children.
Tell us more about your new children's book, V Is for Vegan: The ABC's of Being Kind.
V Is for Vegan is the first ABC book of its kind for the youngest of little herbivores. It's simple, bright, funny, and contains all the main tenets of veganism written in rhymes that kids will definitely remember (see the letter "E"!). They'll be learning and laughing! It's a great confidence booster for kids about to enter school, a resource for sensitive older kids, and a fun adult novelty book too. I suggest keeping it on your office desk, coffee table, or in your waiting room for people who might not pick up Food Revolution, but will leaf through this book out of sheer curiosity. It's veganism in 26 sentences!
What inspired you to write children's books about veganism? Did you start writing kids books before you were vegan?
I had planned on an art career since childhood, but throughout high school and college, I was also interested in social justice and politics. I was teaching art in an elementary school when I decided to combine my interests. I had been vegan for years already and it wasn't long before the kids noticed that I wasn't drinking the milk they were served. They were totally enthralled by what I told them. I tried to find a book that would explain more, but each was about talking animals or vegetables, which I felt took away from both the rich emotional lives of animals and the children's intelligence. I decided to create the book I wanted to read--a gentle, but honest look at the facts. I knew they could handle it.
Your books do an amazing job of balancing the bleak reality faced by animals raised for meat, dairy, and eggs with an upbeat, kid-friendly, and even humorous tone. How do you manage to strike this balance?
Thank you! I try and keep my tone easygoing but frank--the way I would speak to my students. If you're ambivalent and dance around the issue, kids pick up on that fear and may mimic it. But if you're confident and forthright, they really pay attention. They feel like they're being let in on a secret. Most adults speak to kids at a level far below their capabilities because they fear kids can't handle the problems or the solutions! I think I've been successful in presenting the serious motives behind veganism to kids because veganism itself offers solutions to the problems. On every page of my books, there is an affirmation about what we can do to help. My message is that we don't have to fear anything we have the power to change.
What kind of feedback do you get from parents and children? Can you share your most memorable interaction with someone who's read your books?
I learn that adults are having deep and meaningful conversations with kids using my books as a springboard. During a reading, a fourth-grade girl told me that factory farms reminded her of slavery, which she was studying in history. Parents have reported that their little boy's confidence and pride in veganism has been bolstered, and that their four-year-old is taking the message to heart--treating all people, animals, and plants with kindness. One mom told me her boy was so inspired that he asked for a folder to collect research he could share with friends. That's more confidence than a lot of adults have! That tells me that kids are moved to action by this information and need to be included in the conversation.
You've discussed your books on Fox News, CNN, and NBC and have been met with opposition. Why do you think some health professionals, television hosts, and industry representatives feel threatened by your books?
It's multilayered, but it comes down to fear, ignorance, and industry collusion. I wrote a lot about it afterwards. It partially has to do with the media's interest in creating sensation. They want to feed the audience a fight, not a revelation--and people eat it up. It also has to do with media sponsorship, the doctors' lack of nutritional knowledge, and prevailing educational theory and the concept of childhood, with industry collusion between big pharma, big ag, and health practitioners. It has worked together in the past to discredit veganism, but we've all started to chip away at the cracks in the logic. I actually enjoyed the "controversy" because it was so revealing! The media was admitting that what we do to animals is scary--too scary to talk about with kids! On some level they know what's going on. All of our activism has spread the word and it's just going to grow.
When and why did you adopt a vegan diet?
I've been vegan for a decade! It started as a health experiment 10 years ago, a challenge by my now-boyfriend, who also pointed out that, as someone interested in social justice, my eating habits did not match my morals and values. That blew my mind! I tried it for a few months and was thriving immediately on all aspects of the lifestyle...and then I saw Earthlings. I never went back! It was like taking off a heavy jacket and starting to run.
V Is for Vegan: The ABC's of Being Kind is available to purchase starting August 6th.
To learn more about Ruby Roth and join her mailing list, visit www.WeDontEatAnimals.com.
Visit ChooseVeg.com for helpful tips on transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle.
Children's Book Author Ruby Roth: Veganism Is as Easy as ABC
by - July 30, 2013