Interview with Ruby RothPosted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF's Staff Writer on October 16, 2013
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!”
ALDF’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?