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
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