Please read this important post about teaching kids to be kind to animals written exclusively for RaisingVegKids.com by Ingrid Newkirk, President and cofounder of PETA, the largest animal rights organization in the world.
Ingrid as a child
Guest post by Ingrid Newkirk, President and cofounder of PETA
When I was 8 years old, I left the English town where I grew up and headed off, with my parents, to India. My mother, who volunteered to help lepers, orphans, unwed mothers, and neglected animals, taught me to have empathy for all beings. "It doesn’t matter who suffers," she said, "but how."
One day, while I was sitting at the dining room table, I saw a bull outside, pulling a heavy cart, not an unusual sight
in New Delhi. The bull stumbled and couldn't go any further. The cart driver raised his stick and beat the bull on the back, then lifted the bull's tail and thrust the end of the stick into his rectum. The bull collapsed, and I ran outside to his defense, not thinking how small I was. My outrage at this injustice and cruelty fueled my steps. I wrenched the stick from the man's hand and was about to bash
him with it when a servant from a nearby property, who had come running after me, held back my hand. It was the first in a long line of instances when my passion to protect animals from needless pain was ignited.
Now, as president and cofounder of PETA
, the largest animal rights organization in the world, I strive to teach others to treat animals with the same compassion and respect that they wish to be shown. As I wrote in my book, 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals,
"Animals have feelings, just as you and I do. … [A]ll animals, from the familydog to the tiniest mouse are like us―living, feeling beings. We can learn more about how animals experience life by trying to better understand their needs and
their feelings." 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals
is packed with fascinating animal facts, illustrations, jokes, puzzles, and fun activities that teach children to think about and empathize with animals. Kids learn that they can help end animal suffering simply by eating healthy vegan foods, choosing cruelty-free products, wearing cool animal-friendly fashions, attending fun animal-free circuses, or supporting responsible animal shelters rather than pet stores.
It's important to teach children to be kind
to animals. As George Angell the founder of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explained, when he was asked why he didn't help children instead of animals, "I am working at
the roots. If you teach a child to be kind to a caterpillar, you do as much for the child as you do for the caterpillar."
By teaching your children to have respect and compassion for all
living beings, you can help create a more just and merciful world. PETAKids.com
is also full of entertaining and educational tips, contests, and games that will help teach your child be kind to animals.
Many of you already have your Thanksgiving menus planned, but if you can add these delicious pumpkin cupcakes you (and the other guests) will not regret it! If it's too late for you to whip up a batch for Thanksgiving Day, don't fret. You can make these all season long, they're perfect for a cold, snowy day. It's a fun, easy cooking project to do with your kids, as vegan Mom, Jill Fehrenbacher shows us. Her son, Petey is a master in the kitchen!
(Jill is the founder of Inhabitats
- a weblog devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future- as well as a LEED-AP green designer and consultant in New York City. She is also the founder of Inhabitots- the green baby/parenting website, with the motto “Sustainable design for the next generation.")
Read more about making these cupcakes on Inhabitots.
Enjoy these delicious cupcakes!!
Looking for a turkey centerpiece minus the turkey? Here's an idea-- create a turkey made out of fruit! Kids will enjoy making it, and they'll love to see the final masterpiece displayed on the table. It's simple. Here's what you need:
* Bosc pear (head)
* Melon (body)
* Canteloupe or pineapple (beak & tail feathers)
* Red pepper (snood)
* Raisins (eyes)
* Grapes (tail feathers)
* Bamboo skewers
1) Use a round melon for the body. Cut off a slice from the bottom to create a flat surface, so the turkey is stable.
2) Use a piece of bamboo skewer to attach the pear head to the melon.
3) Cute a triangle beak out of canteloupe (or pineapple). Cut a piece of red pepper for the snood. Attach both to the head with pieces of a toothpick.
4) Attach raisin eyes with toothpick pieces.
5) Cut feet out of red pepper.
My Mom made this one last year for the grandkids, and it turned out great!
You can also switch up the items...and try to think of other fruits or vegetables that could replace the ones above. Be creative, and have fun making a beautiful turkey!
HAPPY and compassionate Thanksgiving to all!
Thanksgiving is the uniquely American traditional holiday, dating back to before our independence-- it’s a time for friends and families to come together and gather around the table to talk, laugh, and share stories. And for those of us with kids, it’s a time to create new memories and traditions. For generations, Americans have set aside this day to offer thanks for the many blessings in our lives. Sadly, and not without irony, those moments take place around a centerpiece-- a stuffed turkey. Most Americans probably couldn’t imagine a Thanksgiving without turkey. I understand that. It feels like it’s almost ingrained in our cultural DNA. But we have a choice, especially if we want to honor the true spirit of the day, and not simply the trappings of tradition. Up until recently, most Americans didn’t know the truth about how the animals raised for food lived. They thought animals lived out their lives on small farms, in idyllic conditions. That’s what kids learn in school, and from TV commercials, but the rise of industrial “factory farming” has made all of that just a myth. However, that story, contrary to the facts, is being kept alive by the billion-dollar meat industry-- not to mention the books we read to our children, the songs sung in storytime, and the toys we buy. The truth is that nearly all of the turkeys and other animals sold in the supermarket (and restaurants) today come from large-scale factory farms, and no longer from small farms and real farmers. “Old MacDonald’s Farm” belongs in the history books. Turkeys raised on factory farms live absolutely miserable lives. They are bred and drugged to grow larger, in a shorter time. This causes many grotesque physical problems to their skeletal system, as well as their internal organs. The pervasive results of this bizarre factory system are birds so large that they have trouble walking, and are unable to even breed naturally, so they are artificially inseminated. Turkeys live crammed together in filthy, huge warehouses where they’re typically allotted the space the size of one square foot. They’re so stressed out that each year millions of turkeys don’t even make it to the slaughterhouse-- they just stop eating and die. Millions more die aboard the trucks taking them to the slaughterhouse-- can you imagine the conditions being so bad that millions of turkeys actually die just during transport? Once they get to the slaughterhouse, the confused and frightened turkeys face yet another horrible fate...as if life could get any worse for them. Workers callously hang their weak bodies upside-down (often resulting in broken bones), and send them on their way down the line where they are dragged through an electrified "stunning tank," which just immobilizes them but does not kill them. Many of them are in such a panic that they dodge the tank and therefore, are completely conscious when workers slit their throats. If workers fail to slit their throats properly they are boiled alive in a tank of scalding water (used for feather removal). Can you image the terror that the turkeys must experience during this process? This is the reality of modern day animal agriculture. It is most likely how the turkeys that will be sitting on tables across the country on Thanksgiving Day lived...and died.
On Thanksgiving Day, I urge you to step outside of your comfort zone, and skip the turkey. It might feel uncomfortable or strange, but I can almost guarantee that if you leave the turkey off your plate this year, you will feel strong, empowered and proud of yourself for choosing compassion over cruelty. It’s just one day out of your life...just one meal, but for the turkey on the table it represents a meaningful step toward recognizing their suffering…and our complicity in it.
The thinking person must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition or surrounded by a halo . -Albert Schweitzer
You may also consider saving another turkey this year (besides the one you decided NOT to eat) as well as creating a new tradition with your kids. Through Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Turkey Project you can sponsor a turkey for just $30. Simply choose the turkey you’d like to sponsor online, and they’ll send a certificate along with a beautiful color picture and some fun details about your new turkey adoptee.
However you decide to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let’s come together to create new traditions that honor the very old spirit of this great American holiday. Here’s to a very happy and compassionate Thanksgiving for all!
Don’t forget to check out The Institute of Humane Education’s list of compassionate turkey-friendly kids books. You can also find a list at Vegbooks. If you are raising a vegetarian/vegan child, you should definitely have some of these books on your bookshelf!
Guest Post by Jessica Almy, creator of Vegbooks.org
Jonathan Safran Foer wrote in his new book, Eating Animals
that we should rethink our traditions surrounding food. To honor the Thanksgiving holiday, for example, Foer urged his readers to focus on harvest foods that reflect what we understand to be “good food” food whose“ingredients, setting, and consuming are expressions of the best of us.” And after following Foer into slaughterhouses and factory farms, most readers would join him in concluding that “good food” is more likely to be plant-based than animal in origin.
Until Foer’s ideas about how to honor our traditions and the values that we hold are widely shared, however, many vegans have a hard time finding comfort in a culture that celebrates the confinement, slaughter, and consumption of animals. The flesh and secretions of animals are standard fare on any menu. Jokes about Tofurkys abound. And here in Washington, D.C., we have a lame tradition of pardoning a single turkey at the White House as if it’s the turkeys who’ve done something wrong.
Imagine then what it’s like for vegan kids. Many have never consumed an animal themselves, and even on the best of days, the kids and adults in the school cafeteria don’t look kindly on meatless deli slices and soy yogurt. Teachers expect them to know the likes of Ronald McDonald and Chuck E. Cheese. And then there’s the blatant untruth portrayed in the vast majority of children’s books that depict farmed animals. A sunny day on Old MacDonald’s Farm somehow supplants the concentrated animal feeding operations that pervade contemporary animal agriculture
, with nary a mention of overcrowding, debeaking, prophylactic antibiotics, the “disposal” of male chicks and calves, or manure lagoons.
That’s why I believe it’s so important to celebrate vegan books for kids
or those (like Sweet Chili Doritos) that are “accidentally vegan.” Kids deserve to see themselves and their values depicted in the literature they read. And as our culture shifts subtly to embrace improved animal welfare standards, environmental preservation, and the incorporation of locally grown fruits and
vegetables into every meal, all children benefit from “vegan” kids books, by which I mean books that support vegetarian and vegan values, including animal welfare or rights, environmental protection, and healthy food choices.
Among my favorite vegan books are That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals
by Ruby Roth, Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice
by Nathalie VanBalen, To Market, To Market
by Anne Miranda, and the familiar Horton Hears a Who
by Dr. Seuss.
These books aren’t just good books in a literary sense– they’re also good
books. Books that encourage children to rethink their assumptions, to see animals for who they really are, and to stand up for the defenseless. The kind of books that will help prepare children to be leaders in one of the most important social justice issues of our time– the rights and welfare of nonhuman animals.
While discerning parents and teachers can certainly find these books, and others like them, they still represent a tiny, tiny minority of the books that are marketed to children. In fact, I’d be willing to bet there are ten or twenty times more “happy farm” books on your library shelves than vegan-oriented kids books.
Just as we vote with our dollars when we buy food, so too can we send a powerful message to booksellers, publishers, and authors when we buy books for our children. Next time you plan to go to the book store, bring a list of veg-friendly titles along
and ask for them. Ask your librarian to purchase some of your favorite titles for the library shelves. Host a veg-story time at a local cafeé. And when the grandparents ask what your child needs at the holidays or her birthday, have a few titles handy.
Together, we can raise children who value life, the connections between humans and other animals, and the need to protect the earth and all its inhabitants –and perhaps we can even spread messages of kindness and compassion beyond our families into our communities.A vegan, mom, and avid reader, Jessica Almy lives in Washington, DC with her husband, their six-year-old daughter, and their cat Cassie. She is the creator of Vegbooks, a site that reviews kids books and movies from a vegetarian perspective.
Welcome to my new website focused on raising vegetarian/vegan kids who care about the well-being of animals. This is my first blog post.
I created this website as a guide for parents who are interested in raising compassionate kids who care about animals, specifically those who are currently raising vegetarian/vegan kids or who are interested in raising vegetarian/vegan kids but need some more information. The website will have resources and tools to help parents, including sample meal plans for all age groups including pregnancy, book suggestions for parents and children, animal-friendly travel ideas, traditional holiday recipes made vegan, a slideshow of adorable veg babies and kids, and much more. I will also be writing a blog covering current topics, organizations, and products related to raising veg (and compassionate) kids.
This website will serve as a space for parents who are living by similar values and principles to exchange ideas and learn from each other. I hope this website will inspire and empower parents to make incremental changes in their everyday- lives through their purchases and the activities they choose- to help end the suffering of animals. The site is a work in progress, but my ultimate goal is to create a community for parents to read articles, testimonials, advice, and real life experiences about raising veg kids.
For vegans living in a non-vegan world, routine events can sometimes be challenging, especially for kids. So the site will provide helpful tips and suggestions for navigating certain social situations, such as holidays, birthday parties, field trips, play dates, school functions, and more. Kids don't want to feel left out or different in the negative sense; they want to fit in. That being said, if "fitting in" means dropping your morals off at the door and participating in cruel or unethical systems, then as parents, isn't it our job to encourage our children not to fit in? Being a vegan parent can sometimes feel like a balancing act: You're trying to do what is in the best interests of your child, but also what's in the best interests of the animals. At the end of the day, we should acknowledge our imperfections and just strive to make the best decisions we can under the circumstances. We should feel comfortable and proud of the intentional choices that we do make, as we vote with our dollars. As parents we need to embody the message we are trying to teach our children, and hopefully they will follow by example.
My inspiration for this site is my daughter, Charlotte. My husband and I are raising her vegan because we want to instill in her a sense of respect for animals, and also a sense of personal responsibility in her actions. We want to give her the strength and tools she needs to develop into someone who is compassionate, doesn't turn her back on injustices, and makes conscious
decisions based on how they affect animals (as well as other people and the environment). Our family believes that animals are not here for our use (and abuse, which is most often the case). We value animals and their right to exist separate from us, and we believe that they have their own interests, needs, and desires, which are often at odds (to say the least) with the situations that humans put them in. For example, cows and chickens don't want to live in factory farms
and be killed for our food, elephants don't want to do stupid tricks in a circus
, dolphins don't want to jump through hoops in a tiny concrete pool at an amusement park
, rabbits don't want to be electrocuted to give us the fur
off their backs, mice in labs
don't want to have toxic substances poured down their throats and into their eyes, lions don't want to live boring, lonely lives in artificial enclosures in zoos
, and chimpanzees don't want to be trained to be in commercials
. It's that simple. I want to teach my daughter (as well as raise awareness so that other parents will do the same) to recognize these as truths as she innately will and have the courage and confidence to stand up against these industries, even in the face of so much opposition and constant messages that steer us in the opposite direction. I hope that future generations of children will feel empowered and inspired to truly live according to their values
Stay tuned in the coming days for guest posts written exclusively for our site by PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk
, Jessica Almy
, the Founder of the Vegan Product Guide
, and the authors ofThe Secret Life of Mitch Spinach
and That's Why We Don't Eat Animals
, and many more.
If you are a vegetarian/vegan parent, teacher, or kid who is interested in writing a blog post, please contact me. I'd love to hear from you!
Thank you for visiting my site. Please check back often for updates and new blog posts.Compassion