Childrearing

Vegan Book For Children Putting Parents In A Needless Tizzy

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vegan is loveVeganism and vegetarianism for children doesn’t have the best PR. Every time a vegan baby or child pops in the news, they’re usually on the brink of starvation having been malnourished by some truly whack job parents who only fed their babies soy milk and apple juice. But while those extreme cases always tend to garner media attention, much like everything else, a well thought out vegan diet is pretty healthful. But that fact alone doesn’t seem to assuage parents all panicked about Vegan Is Love, a children’s book by Ruby Roth.

The book reportedly explores animal testing, “clothing choices,” animals in the entertainment industry, as well as dietary practices for a child audience. Today Moms reports:

“The main problem I have with this book is that children are impressionable, and this is too sensitive of a topic to have a child read this book,” Nicole German, a registered dietitian in Atlanta, writes on her blog. “It could easily scare a young child into eating vegan, and, without proper guidance, that child could become malnourished.”

Without proper guidance, definitely. As what often doesn’t get discussed in conversations surrounding vegan children is how picky so many children are. And although the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has deemed a balanced vegan diet appropriate for all stages of life, the odds of a child consuming enough tempeh to compensate for those absent chicken nuggets is pretty slim. Generally speaking, children’s palates are often not developed enough to go those extra dietary miles to ensure that all vitamins and nutrients are being consumed — and that isn’t even innate to veganism.

Who only knows if the many children on meat heavy or even meat moderate diets are getting all the nutrition they need, as kids tend to get their vitamins where they can stand them. For many families, this means peas every night of the week or perhaps just raw carrots along with fish sticks because that is about all their children will consume.

A vegan children’s book perhaps scaring those children into even further limited dietary terrain is a valid parenting condern, but one that of course can only be gauged by parents.

Scare tactics — which this book doesn’t seem to contain — are never a practical way to convey anything to children, including that recent PETA ad that popped a dog head on a turkey. The ad, which was geared directly towards children, asked them if they would ever consider eating their pet — and I wasn’t a fan. But having peeked through Vegan Is Love, the topic does seem to be framed in age-appropriate way that is nowhere near your standard “Meat is Murder!” tirade. Even the depictions of animal testing are pretty tame, with morose monkeys sitting in the shadows behind bars.

Vegan Is Love also teaches children how to identify cruelty-free products and asks them to consider how their clothing is made. A page towards the back encourages them to write letters to companies and individuals urging them to have more animal-friendly policies and to adopt animals from shelters rather than breeders. Certain pages remind children that “your choices are powerful” and ” ‘What kind of person do I want to be?’ and decide the answer for yourself.”

Vegan Is Love, although written in a “we” narrative, seems to merely ask children to think about where their products and their food comes from. And if that question alone spurs uncomfortable questions for parents and children, then perhaps those questions need answering.

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(photo: msnbc.msn.com)