As the vegan movement grows, more parents want to include their children in issues and decisions relevant to the family’s diet and lifestyle. The question is usually not about what to tell kids, but how to avoid traumatizing them. Vegan activist and children's book author Ruby Roth says, "When you catch yourself shying away from a tough subject your kids should be aware of, don’t avoid it – dive in. Their not knowing isn’t helping anyone." Here are Roth's tips for teaching your kids about veganism.Meet Ruby Roth
Ruby Roth is an artist, designer, and writer living in Los Angeles. A vegan since 2003, she was teaching art in an after-school program when the children’s interest in healthy foods and veganism first inspired her to write her first book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals
, published in 2009. Complementing her degrees in art and American Studies, Roth has researched animal agriculture, health, nutrition, and the benefits of a plant-based diet for nearly a decade. Roth has lived in Los Angeles, Kauai, and the Bay Area. As a vegan consultant and speaker, Roth offers presentations such as "The Transformative Power of Veganism" and "A New Generation: Teaching Kids to Love Deeply, Think Critically, and Act Responsibly." Her newest book Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action
is coming out this Earth Day.Don't focus on the negative
According to Roth, the key is to first sort out what information is useful and relevant to your child. "That means making sure the information you share is not solely negative, such as videos of abuse, but rather constructive," she explains. "The most important lesson is that they need not fear anything they have the power to change."Roth's 3 big-picture tips for teaching kids about veganism1. Give ‘em credit!
Kids are more capable than society gives them credit for. When you speak frankly to children (“I have something important to tell you and I want your opinion…”), they feel like they’re being let in on a secret and they pay attention. Kids are usually pleased to be granted such trust. In turn, they learn to make wise choices on their own.2. Get practical
Your child needs to be able to do something with their new knowledge. For example, when discussing the abuse of circus animals, you might calmly and frankly say, “I just learned that animal circus trainers often hit the animals with sticks and hooks. I’m not sure what to do about it. What do you think?” Then listen for good ideas and offer other solutions: signing online petitions, boycotting a class trip to the circus, visiting a sanctuary instead.3. Engage!
Picking shampoo, witnessing a “happy meat” ad, shopping for veggies, shoes, or even gifts for a friend (you can “adopt” an elephant in their name!)—these are all great opportunities to learn to love deeply, think critically, and act responsibly. Engage your kids in discussions about the forces that shape our thinking and the everyday choices you make as a family. And always ask for their opinions and insights so they can begin forming morals and values on their own.More vegan lifestyle tips!