Kids are better than adults at all sorts of things; they ask more questions, they play without feeling self-conscious, and they’re way better at living in the moment. According to children’s book author Ruby Roth, they may just be vegan at heart, too.
Roth has written a number of books for children, from the healthy-eating focused “V Is For Vegan” to her new release “Bad Day,” which aims to help children manage their inner lives and feelings. In her view, when it comes to living a plant-based lifestyle, kids just get it.
“The motives—especially around animals, nature, and the environment—make perfect logical sense to them,” she told LIVEKINDLY. “I believe they’re simply closer to our primal state of sensing that we ourselves, are nature.”
Giving Kids the Information They Need
In fact, when many children are introduced to the concept of not eating animals because it’s better for them and for the planet “they often wonder why everyone isn’t on board already.”
Because, arguably, it makes perfect sense. Eating plant-based foods will mean far fewer animals are slaughtered, it could significantly reduce the risk of disease, and it will help to reduce our impact on the environment.
The reason adults sometimes struggle, says Roth, is because of conditioning. Kids aren’t bogged down in the concept of “tradition” or needing to eat a burger specifically made out of beef to “enjoy life,” she says. “I’ve found that when giving kids the information they need to make educated choices, they choose wisely.”
So that’s what Roth does. She takes what she knows about living vegan, and she translates it into a language that children can understand. Using thoughtful, “lively” text and artwork.
“That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals” teaches children about factory farming. And it connects. In fact, the book has become the leading vegan kids’ title around the world, used by parents and teachers alike. There’s also “Vegan Is Love,” which covers not only food but how our clothing and entertainment choices impact animals and the planet.
“I was teaching art at an elementary school when my students noticed I wasn’t eating the string cheese and drinking the milk they were served at recess,” Roth explained. She began searching for a book to share with them to help them understand, but had no luck.
“What I did find was about a talking animal or vegetable,” she recalls. “Which I felt took away from both the very rich real-life emotional lives of animals as well as the intelligence of children, who can handle much more substantive content.”
‘When You Speak Frankly, They Pay Attention’
An art-lover, Roth decided to fill the gap herself. Books are impactful, she says, and they can change the way a child thinks, or help them to vocalize how they think already. “A book on a shelf can be a go-to resource over and over again for a kid seeking place or comfort or understanding,” she notes. “Before they even have the words to tell you.”
It’s not just young children, either. Older elementary-age students and high-schoolers are often interested in information that feels a little rebellious or counter-cultural, says Roth, so veganism piques their interest.
“I find that when you speak frankly to 4th graders and up, they really pay attention,” she explains. “They’re way more perceptive than adults give them credit for. They like the trust given in an open and honest conversation.”
Roth went vegan back in 2003. Since then, the world has changed massively. Now, supermarkets, restaurant chains, and even fast-food giants have their own vegan options. The number of vegans has increased, too; and this means more children are being raised without any animal products at all.
But alongside the rise of the vegan movement, there is the rise of accessible information. Necessary information, but also scary information. In 2018, the United Nations revealed we had 12 years to prevent a catastrophic climate crisis. We’re now looking at a decade to save the planet.
Teaching Children Self-Care
The children growing up today will have to deal with this climate crisis, as well as a world dominated by social media and a 24-hour news cycle, on top of their own personal problems. And that’s where self-care comes in. Roth believes its really important to teach children about emotional wellness, which is why she wrote “Bad Day.”
“Part of my own ability to sustain my activism requires self-care,” she explains. “I think we need to teach our littlest ones that their inner lives affect the outer world and vice-versa, so they can live as healthfully as possible.”
“Anyone raising conscious kids has to supply them with knowledge and teach them to apply their awareness to multiple dimensions—from the personal to the public,” she continues. “If we are working for the greater good, we have to address all our choices, and that includes how we behave emotionally, not just our eating or spending habits.”
To purchase one of Roth’s children’s books—including “Bad Day”—click here.