A book made its way across my desk recently that immediately captured my attention (hard to do, these days!). It’s a creatively illustrated, well-written little book called That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things by Ruby Roth, and it’s designed to help kids understand how their food choices affect other living beings and the planet. I went vegan as an adult, after reading about the horrors of factory farming, and my decision was cemented after a viewing of “Meat Your Meat.”
But it’s hard to explain to little kids why I’m vegan without painting the kind of nightmarish word picture that will land them in therapy for years to come. This book successfully tackles this tough subject with grace and clarity. Roth’s book emphasizes the importance of family, something that most kids can relate to. Roth fills the book to the brim with fascinating facts about our furry and feathered friends, such as, “Pigs need the sight, sound, and touch of one another. Sometimes they snuggle so close that it’s hard to get them apart. Love is part of their nature.” And about turkeys: “They’re so sensitive that they even blush. Their snoods change color depending on their mood.”
Children have a natural empathy for animals, of course, but these types of details reinforce that empathy and help kids to understand why it’s important to treat animals with kindness and respect. The book covers the basics of factory farming in a way that is real but not overly frightening for young readers. In a discussion of factory farmed birds, Roth says, “Crowded together, they can’t follow their instincts, so they grow sick and scared.” The accompanying illustrations are appropriately sad—but not graphic, and not traumatizing. This is a great addition to any compassionate kid’s library and will make a wonderful gift for any parents in your life who want to talk to their kids about animals but need a little help getting started.