Vegan is Love, by Ruby Roth, will undoubtedly make some parents and their
children feel uncomfortable, but then again so have beloved classics such as The Lorax and The Giving Tree. These types of books often stand the test of time because they ultimately offer the wisdom and compassion that little ones naturally gravitate towards and intrinsically embody. Vegan is Love attempts to connect with that authentic core (and succeeds here and there) through illustrations that swing from lovely to unsettling coupled with an unapologetic narrative. It is clearly intended to affirm those who have already committed to a plant-based diet and lifestyle while motivating others.
As a result, the book has sparked controversy among reviewers and conventional health professionals. One of the arguments is that a vegan diet isn’t healthy for children or adults, but all the best, global science indicates otherwise. Yes, vegans can have nutrients missing in their diet if they aren’t proactive with eating a variety of whole foods. However, the same can be said for any other diet that relies too much on processed foods high in trans fats, refined sweeteners, or other health-depleting, artificial ingredients.
As a Holistic Nutritionist & Eco Expert, as well as a vegan parent, I commend Roth for inspiring discussion around a topic that is too often ignored. Even though I believe her message could have reached a greater amount of families had she focused more on the love (which the title and cover illustration imply) it presents a bold case for how and why we need to abandon animal cruelty. With 10 billion land animals slaughtered for consumption every year in the United States, rapid planetary destruction, and an epidemic of often preventable diseases (affecting all ages) including Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and cancer we really do owe it to ourselves and to our children to eat more plants and less (or no) meat and dairy.
In response to some of the media coverage around Vegan is Love many vegans are passionately defending the author’s work and fully dismissing the critics. I presumed I would likely be taking that stance until I actually read the story. This brings up a whole other point and that is the intensity in which a fair amount of animal welfare advocates are perceived and behave. There is a bit of a mantra I’ve observed among some vegans over the years that “you’re either with us or against us.” Too easily are ignorant or even well-informed non-vegans labeled “idiots.” I understand where the frustration and anger is coming from, but just as we vegans typically don’t care to be labeled “crazy” I find the name-calling to be counterproductive and divisive. Ruby Roth is an exceptionally talented illustrator and strong woman. If she, the vegan community as a whole, and the general public can sift through the critiques with a discerning eye it may benefit the cause and the planet in unexpected ways.
It’s important to note that in addition to diet, Vegan is Love sheds light on other animal welfare concerns such as wearing fur, habitat loss, and animal-based forms of entertainment like horseracing or sea parks. It evens demonstrates how a plant-based diet ties into ending world hunger, something any family can appreciate. At times Vegan is Love comes across as more intellectual than heart-centered and it certainly lacks the poetic charm that authors like Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein won us over with. Overall though, Roth offers a book that is thought provoking, regardless of how much or how little the reader initially agrees with or adheres to.
After all, we do live in a society that adores dogs and cats and posts endless videos of cute critters online. We teach children before they can barely talk how to make the sounds of different farm animals like piggies and cows. We buy kids stuffed animals of every kind while idolizing animals for various holidays and in a myriad of family films. Then, strangely, without their true consent or capacity to understand what they’re doing we feed toddlers the meat and milk from the animals they cherish and dress them in their furry friends’ skins. By the time they reach an age and reasoning power to connect the dots most will be so indoctrinated they will suppress their desire to protect and love animals to continue on like the other adults and children around them. This is one reason why this book is so powerful. It asks us to question the norm and to strive for a world that is kinder to all. It may not be perfect, but with an open heart and mind Vegan is Love could change countless lives for the better.
My mission: As a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Eco Expert, I’m dedicated to leading you straight to the core of what it takes to enjoy a new level of vitality, weight loss, detoxification, immune boosting, radiant beauty, and overall health and happiness.
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