Thursday, October 1, 2009

World Vegetarian Day

Vegetarian Month is celebrated from October 1-31 to advance awareness of the many surprising ethical, environmental, economic, health, humanitarian and other benefits of the increasingly popular vegetarian lifestyle. Each year in the US about one million more people become vegetarians. This even promotes personal and planetary healing with respect for all life. Today, October 1 is a kick-off celebration for Vegetarian Month - a celebration of vegetarianism's benefits to humans, animals and our planet. In addition to individuals, participants include libraries, schools, colleges, restaurants, food services, health-care centers, health food stores, workplaces and many more.
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

I have to be honest in saying that with this post, you need to be warned. These books are not for everyone. I would not recommend any of them for just for fun reading - However, they are perfect for Vegetarian families - for children who have questions about the lifestyle. They are also ideal for parents who struggle to get their children to eat meat, allowing both children and parents to familiarize themselves with the ways of getting protein while eating a vegetarian diet. Take it for what it's worth - you've been warned! I'm sure you can decide what's best for your children/family!

Roth, Ruby.
That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things.
North Atlantic Books.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals uses colorful artwork and lively text to introduce vegetarianism and veganism to early readers (ages six to ten). Written and illustrated by Ruby Roth, the book features an endearing animal cast of pigs, turkeys, cows, quail, turtles, and dolphins. These creatures are shown in both their natural state—rooting around, bonding, nuzzling, cuddling, grooming one another, and charming each other with their family instincts and rituals—and in the terrible conditions of the factory farm. The book also describes the negative effects eating meat has on the environment. A separate section entitled “What Else Can We Do?” suggests ways children can learn more about the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, such as:“Celebrate Thanksgiving with a vegan feast” or “Buy clothes, shoes, belts, and bags that are not made from leather or other animal skins or fur.” This compassionate, informative book offers both an entertaining read and a resource to inspire parents and children to talk about a timely, increasingly important subject.

Okay, so this wasn't all that I was hoping for. Sure, it does a good job explaining the differences between factory farms and free range farms, but I just didn't find it ideal to use if introducing children to the concept of vegetarianism. Although it's a picture book, I'd find it most appropriate for a more mature audience who can really handle the dirty facts about animals and their uses and treatment,
On factory farms, cows are unable to be
with their families, stretch, or chew
fresh grass under the sun. They're fed
corn, which fattens them and gives them
stomaches and gas.

Cattle farms waste precious water and
makes pollution that leaks into the ocean
and sky. Growing vegetables instead of
raising animals could save our planet's
oceans, air, and sea life. And the food and
water we'd save could feed more hungry
people all over the world.
Perhaps fifth grade and up?

Vignola, Radha.
Victor's Picnic with the Vegetarian Animals.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

When Victor attends a picnic where vegetarian animals share their food with him, he enjoys a variety of snacks and learns what to eat to stay healthy.

This book is perfect for introducing children to the world of vegetarianism as we follow Victor, a young boy in his adventures of not wanting to harm animals, and therefore not wanting to eat meat. Through Victor's picnic we learn about different animals that are vegetarians themselves and the foods that they eat to maintain a healthy diet. This book touches tenderly upon a topic that could quickly ignite a battle with children. This is definitely worth considering if you have a child who is against eating meat or if your family is a vegetarian family and the kids have questions.

Drescher, Henrik.
Hubert the Pudge.
Candlewick Press.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Hubert is a pudge, and pudges can never grow up. Instead, they are trucked off to the meat factory when they are still young and turned into TV dinners, microwave sausage links, and other greasy food products. But when Hubert manages to escape to the wild, he feasts on luscious grass, exotic orchids, and skunk cabbage. The more he eats, the bigger he grows, and soon Hubert is the biggest pudge since ancient times. He is giant! He is humongous! And he must fulfill his destiny. From the singular Henrik Drescher comes a quirky fable about the responsibilities that come from being larger than life.

This book is quite funny... and that alone makes it worthy of sharing... provided children are on board with the concept of where our meat comes from and what that means for the animals involved! In the end, Hubert is successful in what he set out to accomplish, allowing the other pudges to be as carefree as himself. It turns out to be a happy story, as Farmer Jake and his new wife Heidi open a Tofu Hot Dog company. But again, like I said, children have to be "cool" with the idea of what being a vegetarian (for themselves and the animals) means. Without this concept, the story will be lost to them.

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to