Here’s a great gift for your favorite young activist, vegan household, to celebrate your Veganuary, or for your local or little free library. Ruby Roth’s delightful and inspiring children’s picture books are a must have for the vegan bookshelf. No children required.
Adults will appreciate the beautiful illustrations and straightforward explanations of the vegan lifestyle, too. Tired of feeling like an outlier? Fed up with odd questions about your diet? Need a reminder why you went vegan? These books make it refreshingly simple and obvious.
Animals are “friends, not food,” our treatment of them is cruel and harmful to the planet and a vegan lifestyle is a powerful, loving choice. Each book ends with tips on what kids (and all of us) can do to make a difference.
Roth’s first book That’s Why We don’t Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarian, and All Living Things (2009) focuses on farmed animals — chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, pigs, cows — in short paragraphs on animal science.
No “heigh-ho, the derry-o,” it scraps the “happy cow” and “petting zoo” myths and shows the reality of modern farming and animal use and abuse.
“A factory-farm pig may spend her whole life alone, fattened in a pen so tiny that she won’t even be able to turn around. A free pig never poops where she eats or sleeps, but on a factory farm she has no choice.”
“Pigs need the sight sound, and touch of one another. Sometimes they snuggle so close that it’s hard to get them apart. Love is part of their nature.”
Then, it talks about the environment and human impacts on the ocean, fish, the rainforest, and endangered species, “We must consider how the foods we eat affect the planet.”
Roth’s next book is the perfect vegan Valentine. You could enjoy it just for its cover, which features a darling elephant and her heart-shaped trunk. Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action (2012) takes a global view and pictures an assortment of animals, wildlife and domestic.
It introduces the harms to animals of our use of them for clothing and entertainment from animal testing to zoos, the circus, bullfights and rodeos. The images here are dark and distressing.
Then, it shows how eating with love aids our health and impacts our planet from the forests, to our oceans, to the arctic. The brighter images and happy animals return.
“The truth is we do not need to eat meat or dairy. Most animals in the world are herbivores, and just like them, we can grow strong and healthy by eating from nature’s gardens.”
V Is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind (2013) is a cute and funny primer on the vegan lifestyle.
“Aa is for animals —friends, not food. We don’t eat our friends, they’d find it quite rude.”
It shows kids enjoying nature, helping in the kitchen and planting seeds. It illustrates what’s good to eat, “Ll is for legumes, often called beans,” and what’s not, “Eg is for eggs from a chicken’s butt?! Wow.”
Roth’s artwork helps us see animals and our treatment of them with fresh eyes and wonder, countering the complacency of the status quo. She offers an empowering message.
“While the power of nature can move mountains and make rainbows, the power we have as humans is boundless too. Every day, we have the freedom to change our lives. In fact, when we treat animals respectfully, we practice world peace. That’s why we don’t eat animals.”
What do your kiddos have to say? It would be great to hear children’s reactions to these books. Have you read them to your children? Do leave some kid quotes in the comments.
Inspired by these books? Check out Farm Sanctuary’s Someone, Not Something project for more information about farm animal emotion, behavior and intelligence.
What next? Read Roth’s blog post “Why Being the Lone Vegan Makes You a Power Player“. See the EcoLit review of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, another essential for the young activist bookshelf.
A reader, writer, and @Utopianista living by the Salish Sea, Shel served in the Peace Corps and earned her MFA in Creative Writing.