Interview with Ruby Roth

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF's Staff Writer on October 16, 2013

v-is-for-vegan-aldf

Ruby Roth is world renowned for her vegan books for children. Her book, That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals (2009), was the first of its kind in children’s literature, and she has since followed with V is for Vegan: the ABCs of Being Kind (2013), and other books in this series. A former art teacher, Ruby has been featured on CNN, Fox, and other major media outlets, and her work has been translated into many languages. V is for Vegan is a charming introduction for young readers to a lifestyle of compassion and eco-friendly themes.

“J is for jail, like zoos and their bars…”

“R is for rescue from shelters, not stores…”

“Z is for zero, no animals harmed. Hooray for the day when they’re no longer farmed!”

ruby-roth-article-image2ALDF’s Animal Book Club spoke to Ruby recently about V is for Vegan, and the importance of teaching children compassion. To qualify to win a copy of this lovely book, leave a comment below!

1. What do you love about writing and illustrating books for children?

The best children’s books can be as allegorical and revelatory as a lengthy adult book. I love taking a huge body of research or an abstract feeling and trying to rightly capture it in simple text and art. The elementary school kids I taught art to were very good at this, essentializing animals, for example, into simple geometric shapes. My time in the classroom with them definitely influenced my style. And it was their curiosity about my veganism that drove me to create a book I couldn’t at the time.

2. Can you talk about activism and reaching out to children at their level?

Children are usually left out of social, cultural, and political dialogues. First, we think they can’t understand and that their opinions wouldn’t matter. Second, we think the adult world has nothing to do with them—that kids are, and should be, in their own make-believe world, when in fact they represent the future of politics and society.

3. Why does V is for Vegan tackle zoos, circuses, and aquariums, in addition to animals who are eaten?

Children are advertising targets in the animal entertainment industry, which hides its malpractices behind mottos about education and conservation, when in fact they are the complete opposite of what they purport themselves to be. I raise the issues as a lesson about supply and demand and engaging ourselves in the public realm. If we don’t agree with something, let’s not complain: we have the power to change it!

4. You’ve been vegan for ten years. What led you to make this decision?

A friend pointed out that my eating habits did not match my morals, values, or the way I championed other social justice causes. I began researching and found that what goes on between factory farms, “sustainable meat,” medical schools, prescription drugs, and lobbyists was, in fact, diametrically opposed to my values and who I thought myself to be.

5. How do children relate to the emotional lives of animals?

Unlike adults, children react to the plight that animals endure with profound diplomacy. They pause, reflect, ask questions, share insights—they do not immediately try to justify human dominance or the “right” to eat animals.

Learn more about Ruby Roth and V is for Vegan at www.wedonteatanimals.com.

Qualify to win a copy of V is for Vegan by answering: what are some creative ways children can participate in the social and cultural dialogue about animals and animal exploitation?


19 thoughts on “Interview with Ruby Roth

  1. Nikki says:

    This is an absolute delight to see such a book for children. I think it is very important that children are taught kindness and compassion towards all beings!

  2. Darren Roth says:

    We have to start educating our youth!!…..My heart breaks every day I wake up and see that older people are set in the their ways!!……….I have no children, but my hope is that the youth will read these books and decide that although we have always done something one way…it doesn’t mean we can’t change and enjoy our traditions without causing suffering to other sentient being, the planet , and ourselves!

  3. Elena says:

    I love this idea! Most children’s books out there entertain such ideas that milk is good for you, circus shows are fun and that farm animals roam free. Lies lies lies! I’m vegan and my 19 month old son has been vegan since conception and I plan to uphold that lifestyle for him. He loves reading and already loves animals very much. It’s very hard to convince his father (my ex) that being vegan isn’t just a choice its a lifestyle. I’m glad I can raise my son to be compassionate and kind towards animals.

  4. Farhana says:

    Life kind of revolves around school for kids, so that is great place to start when it comes to creating dialogue. How about encouraging kids to use their art classes and creative writing assignments to say something or sure something from the animals point of view? Involving kids in making snacks or treats that they can then share with friends in school is also a great way of teaching other kids that vegan food is healthy and delicious. Of course, it’s important that children are educated about the why and how of bring vegan, and thats where these books play such an important role.

  5. gwen says:

    Would love this book to read to my two young daughters! (We are vegan). :)

  6. Jessica Conwell says:

    I have found that people seem to listen more to children about compassion than they do to other adults. My son is only four years old, but he definitely makes an impact on the way people think every time we’re in a grocery store. While we are waiting in line at the checkout, he always engages the person waiting behind us in coversation. He does so by asking them about the food in their shopping cart. When they have milk, he tells them that they should not buy it, because the baby cows need it. When they have eggs, he tells them that they should give the eggs back to the chickens so that they can have their babies. When they have fish, he tells them that they should have let them stay swimming in the ocean. Every single person actually had a softer face by the end of the conversation with my son. My hopes are that some of it really made a difference for the lives of animals.

  7. Lorrayne says:

    SUPERB!!! My husband has been telling me for the longest time that I should try to go around to schools (if permitted) and teach children about animals and how important it is to be kind and to adopt not shop etc. Plant the seeds now – it is SOOOOOOO important. This is a must have and Christmas is coming to a great buy for those kiddies in the family xxx

  8. Lucy Muller says:

    It all begins at home. Parents need to begin early to teach kindness and respect for animals. When the child is older he or she can learn what the pet needs and much alike animals and people are. Finally, as a good example, parents need to volunteer and rescue animals who need them.

  9. Diane Smith says:

    Wow! what a great idea for a book!! Yep we have to teach them while they are young.

    I wish that I was vegan when I had my children so that I could have raised them as vegans.

  10. Kristi says:

    Thank you for writing this book. I feel that by educating children about compassion and making thoughtful choices is key to helping change attitudes and the future for all animals – especially animals otherwise destined for the horrors of factory farms.

  11. Zelda says:

    It comes down to education. If you can have a child form a bond with nature and animals, it will most likely be preserved throughout adulthood. I remember feeding goats, running after chickens, petting camels, and picking fresh fruit and vegetables in my mother’s homeland. My own interaction with animals and plants enabled me to form and preserve that bond. Children in the United States should be taught in the classroom how important growing your own plants are. For instance the school can sponsor each class to participate in the planting a tree and keep track of that tree’s growth throughout the years through social media. Sponsoring trips to local zoos and farms to learn more about where food comes from. Coordinate a trip to see how cows are milked and have the children participate in the process. Once children have these personal interactions, they are more likely to respect the environment and the rights of animals. The first step is to initiate the personal interaction and then to keep that interaction ongoing.

  12. Tara says:

    This book sounds wonderful! I would love a copy!

  13. Jennifer says:

    I have a two-month-old baby at home, and he’s already a little vegan in training! I can’t wait to teach him our values about kindness and compassion for all species and respect for our planet. I am already planning on taking him to volunteer at the local shelters or wildlife sanctuary when he is old enough so our entire family can work to be part of the solution to ending suffering. Books like this are a great idea. Not only can it help parents teach children important values, but it makes children from vegan families feel a little more normal and accepted knowing there are books out there just for them!

  14. Sue says:

    I’ve been spreading the world about ALDF on FB, whenever people start to complain about the laxity of animal abuse laws.

  15. Marlene says:

    How wonderful to see a book teaching compassion and love towards animals. I so wish I had one when I was a child. I would love to hand this on to my grandchild.

  16. Cynthia Leigh says:

    I have been a vegetarian for almost 21 years now. Even though my husband and I do not have children now, we plan on “fostering-to-adopt” in the next couple of years. We have to wait bc of medical reasons. We want the siblings to be young so we can bring them up vegetarian. i am leaning more towards vegan now myself. I think this is a great book for children. I would love to win this book, but if not, where can I purchase it? I bought 2 sweatshirts from ALDF that I wear when I attend classes. It makes a statement and does get peoples attention.

  17. Sarah Lierman says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful book. I would love to win it so I have easy access to it!! My children are asking a lot of questions and I would love to have this as a resource to turn to when talking about animals and their role on Earth. I applaud the author, too!

  18. Rachel says:

    This is a great idea!!

    My mom works with at-risk youth and neglected and abused animals. All about compassion and she could integrate these lessons into her program.

    If you would like another reason why my mom deserves this book please visit..

    http://www.sali.ca

    Thank you!

  19. Kelly says:

    First of all, LOVE Ms. Roth! She is super talented and unapologetic about her vegan values. I think one of the most important ways to help our children spread the word in their lives is to instill the thought of love and compassion for those who we interact with. Being the joyful and peaceful vegan, if you will. It goes so much further then being negative and judgemental. I hope I can teach my little guy to shine his light of compassion, love and kindness to animals and humans alike!