Review By JENNIFER GANNETT
Many veg families are familiar with author/illustrator Ruby Roth’s first book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, in which the reasons for compassionate eating are assiduously laid out. Ms. Roth’s most recent book, Vegan Is Love, is aimed at a slightly older audience (seven and up) and picks up where her previous book left off. Vegan Is Love delves deeper into making compassionate choices when it comes to our entertainment, personal care products, clothing and food. This book is for children who are ready to hear a few more details (or reminders) about a vegan lifestyle.
Vegan Is Love addresses some of our society’s deeply institutionalized aspects of animal exploitation and practices. There are sections about racing, rodeos, hunting, zoos, marine parks and circuses (“We prefer to be entertained by creatures who love to perform,” reads the page of text with the illustration of a human gymnast.). There are also sections on forests, sea life, the benefits of organic growing and a tie in between current standard eating patterns and global hunger.
One of the most compelling aspects of this book is that it reminds children that everyone — including kids — can make compassionate, cruelty-free choices each day. The tone is empowering and will sit especially well with children who are motivated to improve their world. Parents, caregivers and teachers who practice or are transitioning to cruelty-free living will relish the fact that there is now another book available that buttresses their values.
This book is generating controversy. Many of the concerns being voiced have to do with the fact that Ms. Roth does not shy away from depicting some of the harshest realities of how some animals are treated for food and entertainment. Since this book is candid about the life and fate of many types of animals, it is easy to see that some adults may find this approach to be heavy handed. Though this is is not a lighthearted book, it has an important message. Vegetarian and mixed families may not appreciate the emphasis on veganism, though it is clear that Ms. Roth’s intention was to create a book about the problems with the status quo.
Ms. Roth finishes her book with a long list of ways that all of us, no matter what our age, can do to help animals and our planet. Her tips include thoughtful ways to approach shopping, eating, learning, giving and, well, living. For children who are vegan, the book is very validating, which is why many vegan families and friends will feel like this is a great choice for mid-elementary and up aged kids.