Children love food. They love animals, too. It’s a little bit funny then that Ruby Roth’s incredible children’s book about veganism is raising such controversy. After all, aren’t there books that promote all sorts of belief systems, diets, lifestyles and interests? Ruby’s book is an essential and beautiful tool in helping children understand this lifestyle choice and the truth about our food system and entertainment venues that rely on animals. While some of the greatest books create worlds of fantasy and imagination, when they’re used as a gentle tool about truth, they can help to advance our culture and establish trust so that our children will know that we will always tell them the truth, no matter how sad it may be. Parents can use this as an opportunity for dialogue and closeness with their children.
A children’s book that will be released next week is stirring up controversy among parents. It’s called “Vegan is Love,” and according to the publisher, is a young readers’ introduction “to veganism as a lifestyle of compassion and action.” The details, however, including images of animals behind bars in crowded cages and graphic passages about animal testing are being called unsuitable for children –- the book is intended for kids as young as 6-years-old.
The pro-vegan message of the book isn’t in dispute. While there is debate about whether an animal-product-free diet from birth is appropriate, nutritionists (and activists including Alicia Silverstone and our very own Allison!) agree that a vegan regimen can be healthy for little kids as long as their meals include enough supplemental nutrients and proteins. That said, the tone and wording in “Vegan Is Love” has experts concerned.
Child psychologist Jennifer Hart Steen told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show this morning that, “there’s so much fear presented in the book and if you would just give it to a child as a children’s book they don’t understand it. So now they’re just going to be afraid.”
Nicole German, a registered dietitian wrote on her blog that “Vegan is Love” might scare impressionable children into becoming vegan and “without proper guidance, that child could become malnourished.”