We recently had the chance to ask children’s book author a few questions concerning her work and her successful children’s book “Warum wir keine Tiere essen”. You can find the interview below. I hope you enjoy it!
1. When and how did you, personally, come across the issue of animal rights and veganism?
Even though my mother was vegetarian and I grew up on an organic tree farm and lived with vegan roommates in college, it never occurred to me to go vegan until I was 20! I never thought it was for me. Then a friend challenged me to go vegan as a health experiment. I loved it! It was like taking off a heavy jacket and starting to run. The more I learned, the more my choice was validated. I was always involved in politics and justice and so when I learned how animal consumption is tied to world-political issues: health and disease, animal cruelty, land/air/ocean pollution, environmentalism, water waste, immigration, even gender and race, I put my money where my mouth is. I’m thrilled to have chosen this path.
2. Where did your inspiration to write a children’s book about animal exploitation come from?
I was teaching art at an elementary school and the kids were all very curious about my veganism. They all wanted to know why I wasn’t eating the cheese served to them. When I went to find a book that explained why, I couldn’t find one that wasn’t about a talking animal or vegetable…and these kids were too cool for that! As an artist and a politics major, I decided to write the book myself. The education of children was the major factor in the success of recycling programs in Los Angeles. I think the same may be true for veganism and new generations.
3. From your point of view, when are children ‘ready’ to face the issue of animal exploitation and abuse? After all, the animals’ reality on factory farms is a depressing one and even from an adult’s perspective, it can be a quite overwhelming issue. What age group does your children’s book address and how would you make sure not to overburden children with your book when reading it with them?
I don’t think it’s ever too early to start teaching children the truth. I’ve never seen a child overwhelmed by my book…only adults! Teaching the truth is appropriate as long as you do it in the right way, by stating the plain facts and not being scary, or hysterical and over-emotional. My book is written for 6-10 year olds, but younger children can look at the pictures and begin to understand. My experience is that children do not need the sugarcoating that they usually get. They respond to facts with great intelligence and a powerful sense of self-empowerment.
4. From your experience as a teacher, can you also recommend other ways in which the issue of animal exploitation can be introduced to children in a gentle manner?
Yes! Make compassionate choices and then discuss them! For example, choose non-animal tested shampoo when you’re at the store and explain why. Have your child help you look for the “Cruelty-Free” logo. Or visit a farm sanctuary for rescued animals instead of the zoo, circus, or marine park. Then discuss why it is better to visit places that help animals instead of capturing them, using them, and making them ill. Kids understand and they like to be helpful and feel brave.
5. What are you up to right now? Do you have any plans to publish more books in the future?
I have a new children’s book coming out in 2012 about vegan choices and the whole lifestyle—from food to pollution to entertainment and organics. If you join my newsletter at www.wedonteatanimals.com, you will be the first to hear about it! And I hope to bring it to Germany as well. I am so happy to hear from the growing German vegan community. Thank you!
Thanks and all the best!