Author and illustrator Ruby Roth’s latest book, Vegan is Love, has critics howling. “It’s the most disturbing children’s book I’ve ever seen!” said child psychologist Robert Epstein, recently, on Fox News. Many share his attitude. But what’s the big deal?
Vegan is Love, written for kids seven and older, encourages kids to adopt a vegan lifestyle. That’s it. But it has also proven enough.
Opponents have called the book gory, for its visuals of bloody steaks and clearly injured animals. They’ve claimed it fails to differentiate between ethical and abusive farming practices. They’ve called it irresponsible, based on their belief that a vegan diet is bad for growing children.
I don’t have kids, so I’m not looking at this issue from a parent’s perspective. But I do like that Vegan Is Love is available for the parents who want it.
Does the book push an agenda on kids? I guess, but that shouldn’t be enough to have it pulled it off the shelves. Is it an author’s job to impart values on someone else’s kids? Nope. That’s the parents’ job, and most of them are happy to do it. Vegan Is Love won’t be turning a lot of 7-year-olds vegan, I suspect. The books we read as kids tend to mirror our parents’ values, because our parents buy the books. They also buy the food.
As for dietary risks—sure, there are risks to raising a kid vegan if the diet isn’t balanced, but that’s true of any kind of diet, including those high in animals protein. Again, it’s the parents’ responsibility to feed their kids right and educate them about what to eat, what to avoid, and why. Who would suggest otherwise? Probably not Dr. Epstein.
I also like the idea that a book like this could help kids understand that the chicken they see at the petting zoo is very much like the animals they eat at home. The earlier we make that connection, the earlier we become informed eaters.
“The choice to be vegan is especially brave,” Roth writes in the book. “It means you are standing up for yourself and all other living beings and that is love.” She’s in no way apologetic for her message, and I’m glad. Vegan Is Love encourages kids to think more critically about what they’re eating—and how that affects the world around them—and that’s a great thing.