Ruby Roth: Vegan children’s book author

Ruby Roth is an acclaimed author who has written and illustrated several amazing children’s books about animals and veganism. I’ve given her books as gifts because the images captivate and the messages are perfectly age-appropriate. They’re a great launching point for discussing animal issues with kids.

V is for Vegan is great introduction to veganism for the younger set (3-7), and That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals is a more in-depth look at veganism for older kids (6-9). Vegan is Love is a terrific look at human-animal relationships and how you’re never too young to put compassion into action (7-10). Learn more about her work at wedonteatanimals.com.

ruby roth

A few months ago I had opportunity to attend a lecture by Roth, where she explored the transformative power of veganism on society and the individual (children included!). She examined pop culture, the media response to her books, and talked about challenges of being vegan and raising vegan kids.

The lecture was very eye-opening! I’ve been a vegan for over 15 years and thought I’d seen it all—but Roth wowed me with info I didn’t know, such as how public thinking about health, children, and animals is shaped.

The toughest part of being vegan is often the pressure people face from well-meaning friends, family, and medical professionals. Just as her books do, Roth encouraged parents to involve their children in conversations about healthy eating and animal rights. Children are smarter than we give them credit for and will appreciate veganism when they understand it well.

To see Ruby Roth take on the media, check out the videos below.

They’re great examples of the fear-mongering among mainstream media and the normalization of eating animals and exploiting them in many other ways. Fortunately Ruby Roth has given us great tools to help children to “love deeply, think critically, and act responsibly.”

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The Awareness

The Awareness, a novel by Gene Stone and Jon Doyle, is an exciting tale that follows four animals—a traveling circus elephant, a pet dog in New York, a pig in a factory farm, and a bear in the forest—as they each become “aware.”awarenessOn one specific day, all the mammals of the world gain a level of consciousness they’ve never had before. They are aware of human-animal relationships, they talk, they plot, and they begin a war against humans.

Each of the storylines in the book follow animals with unique and different relationships to humans: pet, slave, food, wildlife. Readers get a wonderful glimpse into the thoughts and conflicts the animals face as they talk through their dilemmas.

The animals talk to each other and to humans. The events and actions were the stuff of fantasy, but this story was so believable. I’ve always talked to animals, and I love stories involving talking animals, so suspending my disbelieve came easily.

The animals’ own stories are complex and gripping and I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a great book that gets one thinking about the lives of animals, their emotions, and our relationship to them. But it’s also a great story that will keep you reading to see what’s next.

Plant-based Diet 101

I just finished reading a book by Luke Jones. You might recognize that name: I featured Luke in my vegan profile segment recently. Luke runs the site Hero Health Room, a blog about plant-based living, sustainability, mindfulness and exercise.

Plant-based Diet 101

Luke recently published a book called Plant-based Diet 101: The Ultimate Guide to Healthy, Sustainable Eating Habits. I just finished reading it, and I highly recommend it–especially if you’re new to (or considering) a plant-based diet or if you’re a vegan who isn’t eating as healthy as you think you should (after all, cola and cookies can be vegan, but they’re certainly not healthy).

The book is very digestible (pun intended) and covers health basics like what to eat, what to avoid, and whether supplements are necessary. Luke covers costs, health concerns, and even topics like how to eat in restaurants and deal with skeptical friends and family members.

Luke has a great, conversational writing style, which made reading the book feel like a trusted friend was helping me. It’s not preachy nor is it judgmental. Of course I’m a proponent of a plant-based lifestyle and I sometimes want to bash people over the head with my ideas. Luke doesn’t do that. It’s clear that he’s researched the topic well (and has loads of references and resources to support his findings), but he allows readers to make their own decisions. I like how Luke shares a plan for easing into a plant-based diet and sets readers up for success.

The main focus of the book is health and wellness but Luke also addresses the environmental and ethical angles of eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. It’s an excellent primer.

You can download the book from Luke’s site. It’s only $5, making this the most affordable investment in your health that I can think of.

The Lucky Ones

I recently finished reading The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals. What a great read! I hope you read it too. In the book, author Jenny Brown tells the story of how she started Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

the lucky ones book

It’s more than just an account of founding and running a sanctuary though. The story starts when Jenny was a kid. It chronicles her cancer diagnosis, her rebellious teens, and her awakening to the food system and the cruelty billions of animals endure in the name of taste buds.

I enjoyed reading about Brown’s first career in television production and how her video skills and veganism merged into a foray into undercover video work at stockyards.

The book has heartbreaking moments but her humor kept me reading. I was in awe of her bravery and compassion.

Like many vegans, one animal is often the catalyst for change. Jenny’s cat Boogie, and the love they shared, influenced the authors shift from typical food consumer to vegan activist.

Throughout the book, I also got to learn about some of the animals at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary too. I loved learning about them and reading the “happy endings.” It tempered the cruel realities most farmed animals face.

As with any memoir, the author can’t invent the ending. This is real life. However, I’m glad it’s a love story too. I was rooting for Jenny Brown and I enjoyed the personal plotlines as well as the information about animals and running a sanctuary.

The Lucky Ones is a page-turner and I’ve given copies as gifts to a few people. It will open people’s eyes to factory farming, small-scale farming, and the myths of humane slaughter in a way that a conversation might not.

We Animals

Last summer, as part of a Kickstarter fundraiser, I contributed to getting the book We Animals printed. For my donation, I received a copy of the book, which arrived in December.

We Animals is a gorgeous, hardcover photo book by award-winning photographer Jo-Anne McArthur. She also wrote the accompanying text that explains the circumstances in each picture. It’s beautifully written.

we animals book cover

McArthur spent years travelling the globe, documenting the plight of animals in human environments. She covers animals raised for food, clothing, used in entertainment and research, as well as rescued animals.

Her photos draw viewers in and help make a connection to the animal subjects in them. The photos aren’t all easy to view, but they all tell a story that needs to be shared. If they must endure it, the least we can do is acknowledge it.

Bearing witness–observing but not necessarily being able to help–is a key part of the book. McArthur travelled to factory farms, fur ranches and zoos. What can one do other than promise those animals that they will not be forgotten–that their message will be shared and that someone will fight for them and others like them?

Every animal lover should own a copy of this book. Mine is on the coffee table and is a great conversation starter when guests come over.

Jo-Anne McArthur is the subject of the documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine, by Liz Marshall. When I get a chance to watch that, you can bet I’ll share my thoughts with you.