Commentary: Vegan sweet dreams

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At night when parents tuck their kiddies into bed, they can now read them a bedtime story about all the horrible ways most humans treat animals. Whether we allow animals to be used for food, exhibition or research, we non-vegans apparently are a heartless bunch.

Or so goes the message in a new book— Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action, which hit the shelves (and digital vendors) this week.

Sorry, little Johnny and Sally, you can cross the circus, zoo, SeaWorld, county fairs, horseback riding and pretty much any other activity that involves animals off your list of activities. With that thread of logic, pets should be off limits too, as there’s nothing natural about Rover curling up at the foot of your bed-- he really should be outside to have the freedom to roam as his nature dictates and decide for himself when and what he eats.  

Kids, it’s really just best if you step away from animals altogether because you are more likely to harm the critter than help it in any way. Don’t even think about eating meat or drinking milk, as an excerpt from the book explains: “All animals raised for meat and dairy are captured and killed in the end. Their deaths are violent and sad. As vegans we do not bring the pain and suffering of any animal into our happy and healthy bodies.” (You can check out a clip from the Today Show here.)

Okay, now sweet dreams little ones.

Vegan Is Love is actually the activist, author-illustrator Ruby Roth’s second such book. The first was That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals.  

Geared toward children from ages about 4 to 8, Vegan Is Love, addresses animal testing, zoos, animal farming and slaughter, wearing animals and environmental impacts. Found on Amazon.com for $16.95, a description of the book reports that it “introduces young readers to veganism as a lifestyle of compassion and action…Roth illustrates how our daily choices ripple out locally and globally, conveying what we can do to protect animals, the environment and people across the world. Roth explores the many opportunities we have to make ethical decisions: refusing products tested on or made from animals; avoiding sea parks, circuses, animal races and zoos; choosing to buy organic food; and more. Roth’s message…brings into sharp focus what it means to ‘put our love into action’.” In the back of the book, Roth provides action steps that children can take to “create a more sustainable and compassionate world.”

So, Johnny and Sally be very careful, don’t you want to be healthy and happy; don’t you want to be compassionate; don’t you want to love and be loved?

The book is not without its critics, and I’m not talking about ag folks or those involved in any number of animal sectors.

“My concern is the scare tactic; is this age appropriate,” nutritionist Heidi Skolink, told Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show. “Guilt and fear is not a good place to come from. I see kids, and adults, that are very anxious and fearful about making the right and wrong decisions about food.”   

Jennifer Hartstein, a child psychologist, said “There is so much fear in the book. Kids have enough to worry about; they don’t need to worry about where they’re getting their food.”

“Teaching kids to fear food is not a very good way to approach nutrition,” Skolink said.

Both women agreed that scaring such young children can have serious long-term effects such as creating eating-disorder behaviors and other problems.

Animal activists have designs on reaching younger and younger individuals. You know, get ‘em while they’re young before they can really decide for themselves. Plant those seeds early and let them sprout.

People can choose to do as they wish, but as I’ve said before, it’s the emphasis of I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m loving and you’re not, I’m superior-- that ruffles my feathers.

I’ve talked before about the importance of agriculture reaching out to youth, whether the message involves food choices and pork’s role in a healthful diet or the real practices on a modern farm or rallying the next generation to consider agricultural careers.  

I know that there is much good work being done today. Nearly every agricultural association and armies of individual farmers have programs that reach into the classroom or bring students to the farm for a real-world look at agriculture. Projects like the Fair Oaks Pork Adventure Center and online, real-time streaming videos that allow consumers of all ages to see how farm animals are raised are increasingly important to your business.

So be aware and committed Share your story with people of all ages-- it’s never too soon, nor too often to get the message out.


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IndianaJohn    
NW Indiana  |  April, 27, 2012 at 10:30 AM

I wonder how many of these vegans, at the leadership level are closet carnivores. And have you seen a picture of the once beautiful Bridget Bardot recently? Vegan enough.

Vegan4Life    
14850  |  April, 27, 2012 at 02:28 PM

Bridget Bardot is STILL beautiful. She is nearly EIGHTY years old. You are flailing about making an uncalled for insult about a woman who has NOTHING to do with the topic and saying ludicrous things like "closet carnivores" because you are incapable of refuting intelligently. A pretty common trait among ignorant, brainwashed walking graveyards.

Mike    
April, 27, 2012 at 02:14 PM

Knowledge is power... ignorance causes fear. Can I see real-time streaming videos of feed lots and slaughter houses too? That's the real world look at agriculture right? I want my kids to have full knowledge, please help in providing this streaming video.

Lefty    
San Francisco  |  April, 27, 2012 at 02:36 PM

agreed. i grew up on a REAL farm and participated in the slaughter of REAL chickens who lived REAL lives. unpleasant business, but again, a REAL one. my experience on my parents' farm is not representative of our unethical large scale processing of livestock. you don't have to be vegan if you don't want to. just don't eat so much meat, greedy guts

_Melissa_    
Long Island, NY  |  April, 27, 2012 at 02:18 PM

As a vegetarian, I plan on raising my child veg too. If they choose to be omnivorous as a teen or adult, that is fine. I do want to teach my kids about compassion and the realities of where their food comes from, even if it's meat products (healthier, sustainable, organic choices). I have no problem with people who choose to eat meat nor do I try to convince anyone to make the same food choices as me. This book is going to be bought by people who wish to teach their kids about veganism and some of the realities of the food industry. Knowledge is not a bad thing and we really don't have to worry about coddling our children so much and they are curious and adaptable beings. They will be fine if they read or hear the info that is presented in this book. No one expects an adamant meat-eater to buy this book for their kids, and that's okay. So what's the point of bashing this book?

Rob    
Ronkonkoma  |  April, 27, 2012 at 06:00 PM

I'm sorry, but one of the only tools parents have for teaching kids what's bad and what's good, is fear. Most lessons I learned as a kid were taught through fear. Do drugs, go to jail. Fight, go to jail. Don't go to school, live in a box. Etc. if parents think a vegan diet is right for their kids why shouldn't they use the tools they have to drive the point home? Not for nothing but pretty much all organized religions use fear as a "get em while their young" tactic and I think we can see that religious extremes are far more dangerous than eating broccoli.

Alex    
los angeles  |  April, 28, 2012 at 12:51 AM

The cattle network gave this a bad review? Who would have thought...

VeganHogFarmer    
IA  |  April, 28, 2012 at 09:31 PM

This sounds like a fabulous book and I am going to order both of Ruby Roth's books soon to share with our grandchildren. Loved the link to the Today Show in the article!

Joe    
August, 19, 2013 at 10:14 AM

I encourage you to read the actual book. I checked it out at the library, and it is really a harmless story. It does not shame or instill fear in the reader. It shows a different perspective and teaches compassion. Most parents that have checked it out were not vegan and there has been no complaints.

Bea Elliott    
August, 19, 2013 at 05:22 PM

I realize this article is more than a year old... Since this time there's been this book: V Is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind by Ruby Roth - A simple 26 page alphabet learning book filled with delightful imagery and a beautiful message of kindness! What a wonderful way to give kids an edge on knowledge that we from the older generation weren't privy to. Hooray for truth and compassion! ;)


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