Will This Vegan Book Kill Your Kids?

Veganism seems to be on a few minds this week. The New York Times devoted a big chunk of its Well blog to the topic, pondering the challenges of adopting a vegan diet and asking a group of people who think about food for a living to debate whether veganism is for everyone. Starbucks announced it would stop using mashed-up beetles as food coloring after vegans went DEFCON 1 on the coffee chain. Here at CHOW we launched a Chowhound Vegetarian & Vegan discussion board. And, as ABC News reports, the children's book world got what may be its first title dedicated to encouraging the pre-K set to eschew animal products.

Called Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action, it's written by Ruby Roth and explores, according to Amazon, "the many opportunities we have to make ethical decisions: refusing products tested on or made from animals; avoiding sea parks, circuses, animal races, and zoos; choosing to buy organic food; and more." Or, as Roth says in a video on YouTube, "This is a kid's book of simple ideas, but at its core it's really about democracy, supply and demand, and engaging ourselves in the public realm." (Roth's previous book was about factory farming, and is titled That's Why We Don't Eat Animals.)

Roth's vegan book is illustrated with pictures of adorable animals languishing in medical laboratories and zoos, and has drawn criticism. A registered dietitian told TODAY that "children are impressionable, and this is too sensitive of a topic to have a child read [about] ... It could easily scare a young child into eating vegan, and, without proper guidance, that child could become malnourished.” The only thing that seems to freak people out more than the idea of veganism itself is the idea of child vegans, those little soldiers involuntarily conscripted into the ranks of tofu-chewing radicals.

Given how picky most kids already are, and how readily they absorb the messages of soda and junk-food conglomerates, malnourishment isn't a risk exclusive to veganism. And as Kirkus Reviews notes in its mild-mannered assessment of the book, Vegan Is Love's larger point is "that our choices influence the world around us." Again, that seems like a message that could be of use to, well, everyone.

Image source: Amazon.com

Rebecca Flint Marx eats and writes in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter. Follow CHOW, too, and become a fan on Facebook.