A new book written for children has stirred the pot with its blunt pro-vegan and political messages. The book, Vegan is Love, has critics speaking out on both sides.

Some critics say book is too 'scary' for kids

Author Ruby Roth says kids need to hear the real story about what's in our food.

What's in my hamburger, Mom?

Children's author and illustrator Ruby Roth doesn't leave anything to the imagination in her new book. Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action, released this week, discusses testing on animals, farming practices, and the materials that make up your clothing. Roth argues that children are not too young to hear the truth, and if parents don't teach them, the marketing campaigns of large corporations will.

"We don’t give children enough credit for their insight and ability to handle reality and make decisions," Roth said.

The book's pages are filled with cartoon images of angelic children from all ethnic backgrounds. They are gardening together and side-by-side with animals under a bright blue sky.

Another image shows several goose down and leather coats hanging on a clothes line with an assortment of animals standing next to it.

"We love to dress in spots and stripes because we look like animals," the page reads. "Fur, feathers and scales are beautiful too, but only on the animals that wear them. Today, we can put on natural and man-made materials instead of animal parts."

Is this too scary for kids?

Critics on both sides of the aisle are debating if this message will be too traumatizing for children.

Child psychologist Jennifer Hart Steen told Today's Matt Lauer that the book conveys the pro-vegan message through fear.

"Adults are too willing to turn a blind eye to the way our animal-based diets are achieved"

"If you would just give it to a child as a children's book they don't understand it," Steen said. "So now they're just going to be afraid."

But others argue kids aren't too young for this book.

"Adults are too willing to turn a blind eye to the way our animal-based diets are achieved,” Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, told ABC News. “Kids are more malleable and impressionable. Maybe childhood is the best time to create awareness and change behavior accordingly."

The vegan diet for babies and small children

Alicia Silverstone and her infant son, Bear Blu, have brought the vegan diet to the doorstep of the mainstream. Experts generally agree a vegan diet for children can accomplish all of a youngster's nutritional needs, if certain shortfalls are addressed. If these potential gaps in a young child's diet are not addressed and compensated for, such as protein and vitamin B12 deficiency, a vegan diet could be potentially harmful. For parents thinking about converting to the vegan lifestyle, Roth advises making the process "about adding new foods and recipes in, instead of taking food away."

Tell Us

Do you think this book is okay for kids? Or will it create unnecessary fear? Would you read it to your kids?

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Comments on "Controversial new children's book touts veganism"

Bea Elliott May 12, 2012 | 3:59 PM

I don't know a 4 or 5 year old that hasn't watched Chicken Run or Babe or several other films that address the issue of some humans harming animals. It's a sad fact that some (most) people do. But they do so blindly - Perhaps they were never given the opportunity to truly decide their actions because of the indoctrination that occurs in traditional, yet deceitful, children's books? I think it's great if kids are taught more about the truth so they can grow up fully formed. Nothing more pathetic than the kind of omnivore I used to be... Rescuing a fallen baby bird from a tree - Yet numbly munching on chickens at dinner. It's so easy and common not to be informed. I'm glad books like this will change things for the better. Finally... Protein isn't an issue - As long as you consume enough calories the protein will be there. And b12 is very simple to replace... I even know many omnivores that take it as well... Young or old - A well planned vegan diet isn't all that difficult to maintain.

Michelle Walker May 07, 2012 | 5:54 AM

Children have a right to honesty. This book gives them that. Well done to the author. If my children were young I would buy it.

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