RaisingVegKids loves Ruby Roth! Ruby recently wrote a blog post for our site; if you haven’t read it yet, check it out: Armed and Prepared….Some Advice For Vegan Parents. In it, she shares some valuable tips on how to make sure you are prepared with information when it comes to raising your kids vegan, especially when the inevitable “expert” teachers, doctors, and other parents will come out of the woodwork with their opinions. You’ll hear the same matter-of-fact assertions: Kids need milk for calcium and growing bones, they need meat for protein, etc. This is outdated, and furthermore inaccurate (according to the American Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics "well-planned vegan and vegetarian diets can satisfy the nutritional needs and promote normal growth of infants and young children"). So Ruby urges veg parents to be ready!
Vegan is Love by Ruby Roth
Ruby has been under fire recently for her new book, Vegan Love, which hits shelves this week. This is Ruby’s second book for kids about veganism. Her first is That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals. Ruby has faced critics of her new book on shows including The Today Show and Fox News. Her critics have been less than impressive. For example, when some of them recently kicked the nutrition-babble into high-gear, with oddball claims such as asserting that a “flexitarian” diet can “advance your nutritional status (emphasis added),” that’s when I knew they were simply grasping at sraws. What the heck does “nutritional status” even mean and how is it relevant to a childrens book?
Only slightly less bizarre, but more worthy of discussion, are the criticism of opponents of the book who speculate that its themes are too scary and violent for kids (images of animals in labs, factory farms, etc). ….and Ruby responded back that if it was too scary and violent for kids to read, then it’s probably not something you’d want to eat (or support).
Click to see Ruby Roth debating a psychologist on FOX News
The irony in all of this is that when we look at some of the most famous kids books in the world, that’s where we'll find the truly scary, graphic, and even violent themes. We see Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandma eaten by a wolf, Hansel & Gretel caged by a witch in preparation to be baked in an oven, the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz literally lighting people on fire, Snow White being poisoned to death, and the list goes on and on. Scary? Violent? But these are timeless classics! Yet, what Ruby depicts in her book (which is actually non-fiction) is somehow deemed objectionable. If her book didn’t have to do with the hot-topic of food choices and animal treatment, I wonder if people would still find it objectionable?
It’s interesting that gratuitous violence in mainstream kids’ books, cartoons, and films is considered appropriate, but as soon a book with a positive message about being compassionate towards animals (including those we eat) comes out, suddenly there are national headlines and a fear that kids are going to be somehow psychologically damaged to hear that people can mistreat animals. It seems that, as long as the the moral of the story doesn’t involve something as “personal” as our food choices then these are just themes kids should hear as part of growing up and is not disturbing at all. Let’s face it, that’s just intellectual and moral laziness.
I don’t believe that parents, if they knew, would want to continue perpetuating the myth (aka lying) to their kids about how animals are treated in industries that use and kill animals. Every other book you pick up at the library or bookstore shows a happy animal dancing in a circus, frolicking in a zoo, or living peacefully on a sunny farm. Aren’t we as parents supposed to be
relaying accurate information to our kids to help them make kind choices, especially when it involves our deepest convictions, and ethics? Even (or especially) if the reality isn’t pretty? No doubt the issues Ruby covers in her book are not sugar-coated, including the nasty, cruel business of factory farming, however, from what I’ve seen so far, neither are they out of bounds, age inappropriate, or overly graphic. So we could either tell the truth to children, or ignore it and keep reading books about happy cows being milked and elephants having a jolly ol’ time performing in the circus. Through books, many parents teach their kids about serious issues including not talking to strangers, the harm in bullying, and inappropriate contact with others. These issues are not always happy, and in fact some are very scary, but they’re important nonetheless. There can be no “moral” of any story without a choice between good and bad, and that’s what makes Ruby’s book similar to so many of the best books we all fondly remember from childhood.
With age-appropriate honesty, popular kids books already cover once-controversial issues such as poverty, the environment, endangered species, civil rights, prejudice, and bullying. My hunch is that the controversy being stirred around a similar truthfulness regarding issues of animal treatment is much less about the children and more about parents feeling uncomfortable about having to square their own values with the reality of animal use and mistreatment. I’m sure that once we as parents do a little growing up, we can get back to one of our first responsibilities, teaching our children right from wrong (hopefully, without all of the convenient, and even bizarre, excuses we makeup mostly for ourselves).
For more veg-friendly kids books, check out Vegbooks.
Post by Robyn Moore
I'm excited to introduce this post, not just because it's a great recipe for kids to eat and make, but also because it's written by one of my very best friends from elementary school, Heidi Rogers! She shares a recipe for a delicious and healthy soup that's especially perfect for teachers to make with their students...so grab a baguette and get started!
Guest Post by Heidi Rogers
My 3 year old daughter Elizabeth honored me with an invitation to her nursery school’s Special Person’s Lunch. What would be on the menu? It was a valid question. It was, in fact, 3 year olds cooking! All I knew was that Elizabeth needed to bring a vegetable to school that day. I sent her with 3 potatoes!
Well, as all the “Special People” sat down for lunch, my question was answered. We were served Friendship Soup that her class had cooked. Each child contributed a vegetable and a soup was created; a vegan soup made with love. The children were so proud to be serving us their own cooking creation.
The following weekend, my daughter wanted to make Friendship Soup at home, for Robyn and her daughter, Charlotte. They were coming to visit for a few days. So here is our creation. I think it was a big hit because Robyn and Charlotte ate it for 3 meals during their stay! Please notice that the ingredients are very flexible. Use what you have in your fridge and cabinet, use what is in-season, and use what you were given in your CSA.
2 onions- chopped
4 cloves of garlic
(2) 32 oz boxes of vegetable stock*
6-8 carrots cut into small pieces
1 small eggplant cut into small pieces
2 large zucchini cut into small pieces
2-3 celery stalks cut into small pieces
29 oz can of tomato puree
28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes
2 cans 15 oz cannellini beans - washed and drained
2 cans 15 oz red kidney beans- washed and drained
Package of baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Pasta of your choice: my daughter chose a box of pasta that looked like wheels!
Other options: mushrooms, different beans, French style green beans, quinoa, lentils, and/or basil.
In a large saucepan on medium begin to heat the olive oil. Cut onions and saute in the olive oil. When onions are just cooked (5-7 minutes) add garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Add a splash of vegetable stock to slow the garlic’s cooking process. Add all the chopped vegetables and saute over medium heat. Continue to stir and add stock to help vegetables cook. When carrots begin to soften add the remainder of the stock (one or two boxes*), puree, tomatoes, beans, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Pile spinach on top of soup and cover for a few minutes until spinach is wilted and can be stirred easily into soup.
Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for approximately 1 hour until the vegetables are tender. Check soup every once in a while, stir and adjust stock to your preference.
I cook the pasta separately and add it into soup bowls individually. This allows you to easily freeze any left over soup and make fresh pasta each time you want soup.
*The amount of stock added is up to you. Do you want soup? Or stew?
Have fun and let the kids help....
Washing the vegetables
Cutting the zucchini. Very serious!
The finished product....yum!
Enjoy the Friendship Soup!
Editor's Note: After (or even before) making this wonderful soup, you can read, Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert together. It's the perfect book! Read the review at Vegbooks. Also click here for lots of fun vegetable-related games and crafts, and printable coloring pages.
Heidi Rogers is a full-time mom to her two beautiful daughters in Mystic, CT. She has her master's degree in elementary education and is a former teacher. When she is not taking care of her kids, or working for her husband's dermatology office, she enjoys sewing, staying up to date on her favorite crafting blogs, gardening, healthy cooking, and enjoying the great outdoors with her family.
I was really excited to make these Easter cookies, particularly the icing. I was determined to not buy any store-bought artificial food coloring, so I tested out a natural food "dye" that was safe and vegan....and came from a fruit. Using a bag of frozen, organic raspberries, I was able to create a beautiful, bright pink colored icing! Read on for this simple recipe...
Having fun making Easter cookies
Easter bunnies, chirping chicks, flowers in bloom, and....easter cookies! Holidays are always a fun excuse to make (and eat) cookies, so with the materials and ingredients in hand, my daughter Charlotte and I got started. Although I love my go-to delicious and easy-to-make sugar cookie recipe (from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar) that I use for Christmas Cookies, I decided to try out a new recipe. This is also a fun, kind alternative to coloring easter eggs.
It's pretty simple and tasty, so here it is:Vegan Sugar Cookies
3Tbsp Ener-G egg replacer powder (you can get this in any health food store or online here)
1/4c. warm water
3 3/4c. flour
2tsp baking powder
1c. vegan butter
1c. white granulated sugar
1/4c vegan cream cheese (Tofutti is a good brand)
1tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. Combine the Ener-G egg placer powder with the warm water, whisking until gooey. Set aside.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the vegan butter and sugar using an electric hand mixer for 3-4 minutes,
or until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg replacer mixture, vegan cream cheese and vanilla, beating until just combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating to form a stiff dough. Form the dough into two discs, wrap inplastic wrap, and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4" thickness (if it is a little hard and dry from the fridge, wait a few minutes). Using floured cookie cutters, cut out your cookie shapes, and place each on the prepared baking sheet about 1" apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.
Yield: About 3 dozen cookies
Note: Don't let the "vegan" ingredients scare you off. The Ener-G egg replacer is available in most health food stores or online. Recipes call for such a small amount, that I've had the same box for more than a year. So skip the eggs, and buy a box and keep it on hand. The vegan cream cheese and vegan margarine are available in most mainstream stores nowadays, including Stop & Shop, C-Town, Key Foods, Price Chopper, Safeway, Albertson's, Publix, etc. and of course, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.
Here's Charlotte mixing up the ingredients....
...and licking the spoon (no salmonella worries because there are no eggs).
The next day we rolled out the dough and cut it into egg shapes...
Now for the best part....the ICING. Food coloring is bad news for many reasons...there's a lot of controversy surrounding its toxicity, and of course most aren't vegan. There are vegan alternatives available sold in stores and online, but I was determined to find a fruit or vegetable (of any vegan food for that matter) that I could use to color my icing...and with the help of the internet and my professional baker friend, Sarah, I found one! I used raspberries and the icing came out perfect-- it was a beautiful, vibrant shade of pink.
Raspberry Icing Recipe:
1/2c. vegan butter
10oz. bag of frozen raspberries (thawed)
4c. powdered sugar
1-2Tbsp soy/rice/almond milk (if needed to thin it out)
1) Boil raspberries on medium heat until thoroughly mixed into a sauce (about 4-5min).
2) Mix raspberries and butter in large bowl.
3) Add one cup of sugar at a time. Mixing in-between cup additions.
4) Add vanilla, and mix. If the icing is too thick at this point, add one to two tablespoons of soy milk to thin.
Time for decorating the cookies with the raspberry-flavored icing and sprinkles...
Note: You can order organic, vegan sprinkles online.
HOPPY Easter to all!