Have a vegetarian or vegan family, or have plans to in the future? Look no further! We have myriad books for you to read, from having a vegan pregnancy … to raising a vegan child … to vegan family cooking … to animal-friendly books to read with your child from vegan mamazon Robyn Moore.
I suggest reading up on a few of the informational books before the baby arrives—to get a head start. Once he or she is here, there will be no time—take it from me, I have a 5-month-old! Here are some excellent choices to get you inspired about raising a vegetarian or vegan child.
Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven, from New York Times bestselling authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. These feisty ladies give it to us straight. They include tips and facts on how to have a healthy vegan pregnancy, which—surprise, surprise—pretty much just involves eating a balanced diet of lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds and avoiding processed crap. I read this book when I was pregnant, and it helped me have a wonderful vegan pregnancy: I had no morning sickness and no mood swings, and I gained less than 10 pounds. (Editors Note: I too had a very healthy vegan pregnancy, but gained a whole lot more than 10 pounds! This is very unusual. Don’t feel like a pig if you put on 25-50 pounds.. this is more of a regular expectancy)
MOGO—Most Good, Least Harm, by author by Zoe Weil. She teaches us how to live with integrity according to our deepest values and urges us to become conscious consumers in our everyday lives—by investigating the effect our daily choices have on the environment, workers, and animals. She doesn’t expect us to be purists; she just encourages us to strive to do the most good and the least harm whenever we can, which she terms MOGO living. It’s eye-opening, informative, and not at all preachy.
Above All, Be Kind, by the same author, stresses the importance of teaching our children how to think critically and make kind, informed choices that show respect for the environment, animals, and people. It gives us the tools to cultivate a compassionate child from birth to the teenage years. This one is a gem!
Raising Vegan Children in a Non-Vegan World covers the nuts and bolts of raising a vegan child. It offers advice from other parents and tips and ideas for navigating the often challenging social aspects of being a vegan in a clearly non-vegan world. If you’re choosing to raise your kids vegan, then for their sake, you should get this book.
Of course, you’ll also need some vegan cookbooks in your arsenal, of which there is no shortage! Here are two that are sure to please any kid—and any adult, for that matter! These offer delish recipes for non-vegans as well, as you can’t even tell the difference: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, both by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. On these pages, you’ll find the recipe along with a photo of the finished product. Yum!
Vegan Lunch Box is filled with fun, easy ideas for kids meals—you’ll discover that there’s a whole world of food out there for vegan kids besides PB&J! They even have an international book filled with cool meals and snacks from around the world. Once your child is old enough to eat food—babies need not apply—then you should run out and get yourself a copy!
There are also cookbooks to encourage kids to cook and make easy meals for themselves—there’s one for younger kids titled, Kids Can Cook: Vegetarian Recipes, and one for college kids titled, PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook: 275 Easy, Cheap, and Delicious Recipes to Keep You Vegan at School.
Next Stop: Books to Read to the Kiddies!
There are literally millions of children’s books out there, so when you start choosing for your child, be selective. Find books that portray animals in a good light, as sentient beings with a purpose of their own. Many kids’ books are fantasy-driven and feature animals driving cars, reading, cooking, and other human-specific activities, which is fine as long as the animals are not being exploited by humans for entertainment, food, clothing, or anything else. Stay away from books that focus on circus animals, zoos, and other artificial venues where animals suffer in confinement. If you happen to receive a book from someone that is not up to par with your beliefs, try using it as an opportunity to teach your child.
In a sea of animal-friendly books for kids, here are a just a few suggestions:
That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, by Ruby Roth, is a straightforward picture book that doesn’t sugar-coat the issues of factory farming. This should be on every vegetarian/vegan family’s bookshelf.
Do Animals Have Feelings Too, by David L. Rice, is an important book to get kids thinking about animals and their emotions. Once kids make the connection that animals feel sadness, loneliness, and happiness just as we do, then their family’s decision to go vegan becomes crystal clear. This book helps validate why we shouldn’t eat animals, wear animal skins, or use animals in experiments or for our fleeting entertainment. It is a simple concept for kids to get.
Granny Gomez and Jigsaw, by Deborah Underwood, is a story of friendship between an old lady, Granny Gomez, and a pig named Jigsaw. What stands out in the book is how deep the connection is between the two and how much Granny understands and respects Jigsaw’s needs and desires. After outgrowing his accommodations in Granny’s house, Jigsaw is moved to the barn. Rather than leave lonely Jigsaw in the barn by himself, Granny decides to move into the barn with him! It’s nice to see a book where a human caters to the needs of an animal, instead of the typical vice versa.
Horton Hears a Who is a classic Dr. Seuss rhyming book. Horton is a kind elephant who defends tiny creatures, called the “who’s.” It’s a book that highlights the importance of protecting and fighting for the vulnerable ones around us who can’t stand up for themselves. This book especially is an excellent choice because Dr. Seuss is such a famous, mainstream author.
The Lion and the Mouse, a retold Aesop fable, is a beautifully illustrated tale with few words. It’s about a lion and a mouse who end up helping each other. The lion spares the mouse’s life, and then later when they meet up again, the mouse saves the lion’s life by nibbling through the hunter’s net that he is caught in. It’s a nice story of an uncommon friendship between a mighty lion and a tiny mouse. I wish the other animals of the planet would get this memo and unite to fight against human abuse.
50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals, by Ingrid E. Newkirk, is for the budding animal activist or even just the animal lover—which most kids are. There are lots of fun, easy ideas in here to get your kids involved in helping animals, from lemonade stands to dog-walking to petitions.
For more ideas on animal-friendly titles, check out VegBooks —it’s a website that offers reviews to assists parents, teachers, and anyone else interested in finding books and movies that affirm vegetarian and vegan values. The list is endless. The site also links to other websites where you can find similar humane-focused books. When family and friends ask you what to get you for Christmas, birthdays, etc., forward them this link!
For those interested in raising a humane child (I assume that’s everyone?), there’s an upcoming online class —called “Raising a Humane Child“—being offered through the Institute of Humane Education. It looks amazing. For the sake of my little girl, I’m definitely signing up!
Of course, this is only a tiny smidgen of the animal-friendly books on the market. Whichever books you choose to read to your kiddies, make sure they have a humane message, not only for animals but also for the environment and the people who are portrayed. Some books are not as obvious as others, so read between the lines.
Remember, whatever you choose is most likely to be read over and over again to your child, so make it count! Instill compassion.
Robyn Moore was inspired by the birth of her daughter Charlotte to surround her family with a supportive community of like-minded people in my city. She created the NYC Vegetarian and Vegan Families Meetup. It’s a place for families to gather and exchange ideas, and where veg kids can have fun without having to worry about what they can eat or participate in. It’s a group of families who are choosing to raise their kids humanely, according to the belief that animals are not here for our use, whether it be for our food, products, entertainment, or clothing.
Veg Family Reading … From Start to Finish!