In the News: Should Kids Know Where Food Comes from?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
A new children's book entitled Vegan is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action was released last week with mixed reviews over concerns about the books use of graphic images and a potentially unhealthy diet message. Author and illustrator Ruby Roth's previous book That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things provided children in vegetarian homes with a colorfully illustrated explanation  to help them understand their family's eating style. (Learn more about the origin of the book here.) Vegan is Love continues the conversation into a deeper context by tackling tougher topics like animal testing and the use of animals as entertainment.  
Ruby Roth told that her book is intended to introduce ideas of compassion and action that help children think, eat, and treat the environment differently. Some of the biggest concerns from critics relate to how children may feel regarding the suggestions to boycott visits to the zoo, circus, or aquarium in addition to avoiding the inclusion of meat or dairy in the diet. Child psychologist Jennifer Hart Steen shared her concern with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show about how children may process the overall message especially if they don't follow a vegan lifestyle. There is also some concern regarding the illustrations especially for younger children.
Here is what the author has to say about her new book.


The Bottom Line
We know that a well-planned vegan diet with special attention to seven key nutrients ensures a plant-based diet is also a healthful one. We are secure about the positive weight and health benefits found in plant-based diets. We recognize that with careful meal planning, a protein rich vegetarian diet that focuses on nuts, seeds, and legumes in addition to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can meet protein needs for most people including growing and active children. We are aware that some people enjoy a flexitarian approach to plant-based eating while other people like dailySpark Editor Stepfanie Romine have found a vegan lifestyle to be right for them. We also understand that the nutritional needs of children have not changed in several decades even though almost everything else in the world around them has.
Helping children understand where their food comes from and how to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet while being active is important for all families today if we are going to turn the tide on the childhood obesity epidemic we find in our country. There are many books on different topics and interests for parents and grandparents to share with the children in their lives. Parents frequently read to their children while also sharing warm cuddles and conversation as they seek to help them learn to love books from a young age. Parents also tend to know what book topics are appropriate for their children. For some families, this book might not be right. However, other families will likely appreciate the tool it provides to open honest conversation and dialogue.
What do you think? Are you concerned about children eating a vegan or vegetarian diet? Do you think there should be concern over honest books about animal welfare?