“Mom, I don’t like anything about Hooter’s.” This is what Trey, my 8 year-old, tells me last week as we drove past a Hooters on our way to his friend’s birthday party. My first thought was “Thank God!”, but I decided I should inquire further. “Why don’t you like Hooter’s?” I ask. Trey says “The sign says they have wings, shrimp and burgers. All dead animals.” One point for veganism and one additional point for the fact that he doesn’t know about Hooter’s other selling points! His comment made me laugh, of course, but it also made me glad that Trey knows why we are vegan. Since he was tiny I talked to him about why we don’t eat animals. One of the things that really helped those discussions was Ruby Roth’s appropriately titled book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals.
It was important to me that Trey really understand why we are vegan and not just feel that we were vegan to be healthy or to miss out on junk food. I also did not want him to judge people who do chose to eat meat. Harrison eats meat, as do all of his friends, so I didn’t want him to think eating meat meant you were a selfish jerk with no feelings. Ruby Roth’s books don’t talk about what other people eat. The focus is very straightforward – just the facts about animals and the lives they live when we raise them for food versus the lives they live when they are free.
Of Ruby Roth’s 3 books That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals is my favorite, probably because I have such fond memories of reading it to Trey. In fact when I took this book off his shelf to write this review he said, “Hey that’s one of my favorite books.” He was worried I was donating the book! In the beginning of the book Roth starts by talking about pets and how we love and care for pets. Then she points out that all animals “deserve the care and protection we give our pets”. I think this is such an easy to understand and child-friendly way to discuss veganism. The focus of this book is mostly on the lives free animals live – for instance that pigs like to snuggle with each other and that calves play follow-the leader. Roth then offers a few sentences and a picture on what the lives of these animals look like when they are raised for food. It is obviously a very different life and it makes an impact on children.
Vegan is Love focuses more on the ways we mistreat animals beyond eating them. Roth talks about zoos, circuses, animal testing, hunting etc. I really enjoyed this book, but I think it is better for slightly older children than That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals. I bought the book when it was published in 2013 when Trey was about 6. While he enjoyed it I have noticed he understands and is more interested in it now that he is 8.
V is for Vegan on the other hand is perfect for very young children. Roth uses each letter of the alphabet to speak to some element of being vegan. For instance “M is for Meat, from coconuts, of course!” The book is very playful and fun. Trey loves “E is for eggs – from a chicken’s butt?! Wow.” He cracks up at that every time and then asks “Is that true? Yuck!”. This is the perfect starter book for your littlest vegan.
If you are looking to discuss being vegan with children I highly recommend any of Ruby Roth’s books. If have young vegans in your life, do you have any favorite books about veganism that you read them?