Exclusive: "That's Why We Don't Eat Animals" Author/Illustrator Ruby Roth
Do you ever wish you had made the connection between diet and how it effects the planet at an earlier age? Well, now there’s a book on the market that’s helping young people do just that.
Ruby Roth is the writer and illustrator of That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals — a children’s book designed to educate kids about the reality of where our food comes from in a thoughtful, positive and enriching way. Praised by celebrities like Jane Goodall and Alicia Silverstone, That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals is quickly becoming a must-have book!
Roth was kind enough to sit down with Ecorazzi for a chat to discuss her plant-powered masterpiece. Check out the interview below.
Ecorazzi: What inspired you to write a children’s book about veganism?
Ruby Roth: In 2003, I went vegan as a health experiment and immediately I could feel my body running on clean fuel. It was like taking off a heavy jacket and starting to run. The more I learned about food, animals, climate change, and our food and health industries, the more my choice was validated. Fast forward a few years, I was teaching art at an elementary school and the kids were all very curious about my veganism. I shared my point of view with them and they responded with incredible insight and clarity. Many of them, even being raised on meat and dairy, wished to go vegan, but there was no support system in their schools or homes. I looked, but couldn’t find a book on the subject that wasn’t based on a talking animal or vegetable — which I felt they were too smart for. I feel strongly that whatever you do, whether you’re a housecleaner, makeup artist, or a lawyer, you have the power to create change within your field. So I decided to write the book myself.
E: Besides writing this book you also illustrated it. How long did the entire process take you from dream to creation and what was it like to be so involved with every aspect?
RR: It was four-and-a-half years from the moment the idea occurred to me to the publication date. The artwork was the smoothest part — it was the concept and text alone that were the hard sells, the parts I had to really fight and push for. I experienced an extreme range of emotions throughout the process, from the deep darkness of factory farm research to the awe of ethological study, and finally to the elation of hearing a child’s insightful reaction to the book.
E: Do you think that children are natural born vegetarians?
RR: More importantly, I think that whether they are or they aren’t, they learn to crave whatever foods they are provided. Meaning, if we eat chicken nuggets and Milky Ways we crave chicken nuggets and Milky Ways. But if we eat avocados and raw cacao, we crave avocados and raw cacao. I will say, however, that children are entirely more open and receptive to sparing the lives of animals. Not because they are merely influenced by the “cuteness” of animals, but because this kind of compassion makes logical sense to them — and they haven’t been on earth long enough to develop deep-seated psychological attachments to meat. No child has ever asked me “But isn’t being a vegan hard?” When kids find that they can help solve a problem, be it the mistreatment of animals or pollution, simply through their food choices, action is not a question but a conclusion.
E: What kind of reactions have you had from parents of children who’ve read the book?
RR: I’ve heard it all, from supremely positive enthusiasm to commentary about “propaganda,” “brainwashing,” and even veganism as “child abuse.” The range is a testament of both the growing interest in the truth about food and health as well as just how well certain industries have positioned animal consumption as a “necessary,” unquestionable means of existence.
E: What’s been the most rewarding part of getting this book published?
RR: The best part is receiving letters from vegans around the world, from Utah to Prague to Singapore to the Dominican Republic. There are more of us than you think…and we’re a very excitable and supportive community. It’s deeply heartening to picture people in their respective cultures across the globe, sharing an awareness of food and its extensive impact on the environment, our minds and bodies, the animals, and our future on this planet.
E: Do you any future plans for new projects?
RR: Yes! Stay tuned for more related children’s books and soon-to-be-available artwork.
E: Now I always end with the same question for all the vegetarians I interview. If you had the chance to meet one person who you’ve found specifically instrumental in the vegetarian community – dead or alive, past or present – who would it be and why?
RR: Historically, we have some serious veg heavyweights on our side—hard to choose! But I would say Leonardo da Vinci, whose capacity for thought extended radically beyond anything this planet has ever seen. His contribution to the world was an explosive intersection of radical creativity, invention, science, math, beauty, philosophy, curiosity, and a love for animals. The foresight this man had! To have been in his presence must have been to get a glimpse into what was infinitely possible on this Earth, to feel what was possible for all mankind–from technology and art to morals and compassion.
A big thanks to Ruby for taking the time out of her busy schedule to say hello. Check out WeDontEatAnimals.com to learn more about this fantastic book and pick up your very own copy.