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Taking Sides: Action For Animals Newsletter

Taking Sides: Action For Animals Newsletter

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Published by: Our Compass on Aug 18, 2011
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Take sides.Neutrality helps the oppressor,never the victim.Silence encourages the tormentor,never the tormented.
 Action for Animals Newsletter, Issue 1
“I want to be vegan, but my parents won’t letme. What do I do?” We hear rom a lot o kids who want to bevegan and their parents won’t let them, butthere are a lot o ways to work towards hav-ing your parents’ support. First o all, talk toyour parents about their concerns. Ask them why they won’t let you, listen to their reasons,and then address them. Many parents worry about their kids getting proper nutrition. o goover this concern with them, it can be help-ul to look at a resource such as the Nutritionpage o the Vegetarian Resource Group website(vrg.org) and the literature section o our web-site (aa-online.org/literature.html). Share withthem that the American Dietetic Associationapproves o vegan diets or all ages. You canshow your parents the inormation that yound and then talk with them about what oodsyou’ll be eating to get all o your nutrients.I your parents are just generally worried about what oods you’ll eat as a vegan and whereto buy them, you can start by going throughyour cupboards and rerigerator with them. You can read ingredients together to discoverhow many o the oods that are already in yourhome happen to be vegan. You can then talk tothem about what other vegan oods you might want to start keeping in the house, such as thatyou want to start having soy milk or your ce-real. Ten plan a trip to the grocery store withyour parents to show them where to nd theoods and look at new oods with them. Makesure that they realize that they can shop at any grocery store and that they do not have to buy expensive oods at a specialty store. For lists o common vegan oods, you can look at the Ac-cidentally Vegan website (peta.org/accidental-lyvegan). While you’re at the store with yourparents, you can also make suggestions or veg-an oods that you think they will like as well,and point out things such as the ake meat sec-tion. Using the internet, you can nd a lot o great vegan recipes that are easy to make—andthat your whole amily is likely to enjoy. Youcan do a search or a avorite ood along withthe words “vegan recipe” and you’ll nd many options. You may also want to look at vegweb.com, an all-vegan recipe website.Many parents worry that, by having a vegan inthe amily, they will lose having amily dinners,but you can show them that you can all enjoy new recipes together, you can alter amily a-vorites and make substitutions, and that many staples are vegan. For example, a pasta or ricedish can easily be vegan, and a banana can beused in place o an egg in baking.Overall, it may help to assure your parents thatyou will be healthy and will still very muchenjoy a wide variety o oods, as well as to letthem know why being vegan is important toyou. Tey can be proud o you or being veganand glad to have raised a child who is so com-mitted to helping animals, and you can letthem know this and tell them how much theirsupport would mean to you.
 Action or Animals is a 501(c)(3)non-prot animal advocacy orga-nization headquartered in Seattle, WA, USA. AFA operates under theprinciple that animals do not existor human exploitation. Animalshave the right to play, love, care ortheir amilies, and enjoy all the richexperiences o their lives. o this end, we promote a vegan liestyle througheducational outreach with a specialemphasis on outreach to youngpeople. AFA is unded entirely through indi-vidual donations and purchases romour online store; we do not receiveany corporate unding. o nd outmore about our work and how youcan help animals, please visit our website: www.aa-online.org.
JESSICA JENKINS Action for Animals Founder and Presi-dent Dave Bemel received the cov-eted Henry Spira Grassroots Activist Award at the Animal Rights 2009National Conference in Los Angeles.Dave was selected by a committeeof nationally recognized leaders inthe animal rights movement for hisdedication to ending animal exploi-tation. To qualify for the Henry Spira Award, an activist must stand out as
an inuential voice for the animals
and must have been doing so unpaidfor at least ten years.
Ruby Roth wrote and illustrated the children’s book
That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book about Vegans, Vegetarians, and All LivingThings
. It tells the true story of factory farms and the animals whodeserve to be free.
I’ve read that the idea or
Tat’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals 
came out o teaching artto children. Can you explain or elaborateon this?I was teaching art at an elementary ater-school program and the kids were alwaysasking why I never ate the string cheese ormilk they were served. Tey were sincerely interested and many told me they wantedto go vegan, but there was no support sys-tem in their homes or school to help themdo it. I centered some projects on animals,but when I looked into nding more re-sources or them, I couldn’t nd a book on the subject that wasn’t based on a talk-ing animal or vegetable—which I elt they  were too smart or. Around the same time,I heard that the education o children wasa major actor in the success o recyclingprograms in Los Angeles. Kids learnedabout it and went home to “radicalize”their parents! I was motivated to createa book that had the potential to provideinormation and support, and ultimately inspire activism. What is your response to parents who want to protect their children rom the re-alities o actory arming and where oods(animal products) come rom?I understand the ambivalence aroundtelling children the truth—no one wantsto scare their little ones. But there is aprescribed notion about children—thatsmallness equals weakness and railty. My experience is that children do not requirethe sugarcoating they usually get. At thesame time, I took a lot o care to makethe inormation and images in my book manageable or a child’s capacity. Tere isalways a way to be honest and gentle at thesame time. What is the reaction that children tend tohave to your book?Children show incredible interest and in-sight. Tey ask questions and relate the in-ormation to their own lives—their pets,their gardens, their vegan aunt. One 4thgrader told me that actory arms remind-ed her o what her class was learning aboutslavery! And I have never experienced onechild who was overwhelmed or reakedout by the book. I think they enjoy beinglet in on what seemed to have beena “secret” kept rom them. Tey eel empowered by the truth. I’vereceived a bunch o emails romparents whose kids were inspiredto do things in their communitiesto help animals. I say in the book that each day, we have the reedomto change our lives. I think this is a very important concept or any child or adultto absorb—and one to emphasize whenyou read the book to a kid: we never haveto ear things that we have the power tochange. And they get it! What has been the reaction rom parents(or other adults)? Vegan parents? Non-vegan parents?Te response rom the parents—andeven veg people without kids—has beensupremely positive and enthusiastic. I’veheard rom people all over the world, romthe Czech Republic to Arica to Argentina,excited by the existence o a resource thatrepresents their values and invites theirchildren into the dialogue. And adultsacross the board have told me they learneda lot about animals rom the book! Mean- while, the negative comments have beenew and ar between in comparison, butthey are intense. Te terms “brainwash-ing” and “propaganda” have been thrownaround in reviews, but it only goes toshow that rom birth, people are set on aprogram that normalizes meat-eating as aundamental, God-given means o exis-tence. People are so deeply and emotion-ally attached to meat, they can’t imaginetheir lives without it. Tey consider any departure rom what they consider normalto be deprivative and even abusive. But,as with any historical movement that hascalled or progress and some reection onour destructive patterns, we are going toconront ear and resistance. I recognizethat is the process o change. You’ve gotten a lot o support rom theanimal rights community or
Tat’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals 
. What role do yousee this book playing in the animal rightsmovement? Or what role do you hope tosee the book play?I hope this book becomes the go-to re-source or teachers, librarians, parents, andveg amilies who respect a child’s capacity or inormation as well as their capacity to make decisions. Tere has never beena more relevant time to learn about vegan-ism. It is a solution related to every crucialissue in the headlines today, rom diseaseand healthcare to climate change and en-dangered species.  What do you want children and parents totake away rom reading your book?I hope the book provides amilies a senseo connectedness to animals and the envi-ronment—a eeling that we have both aplace and power in this web o lie becauseour choices ripple out into the world. I’veseen this idea inspire kids with a greatsense sel-empowerment. Tey respond with great intelligence and learn to choose wisely. Tis kind o upbringing extendsbeyond veganism into all acets o lie...and it lasts a lietime. As an artist, what do you want the impacto the beautiul--and very powerul--illus-trations to be? Were there specic moti-vations behind how you chose to do theillustrations?Te painting style in my book was highly inspired by my students. Tey were re-ally genius at reducing complexly shapedanimals down to geometric shapes and Iollowed suit with their point o view inmind. In the process o becoming vegan,it was visual inormation—photos and thelm
—that really solidied my commitment. Te mind doesn’t alwaysbelieve until it sees evidence. So I knew the paintings would be crucial to the mes-sage o the book. I wanted the paintingsto be emotive so that even i there were no words to explain the details, the illustra-tions would still convey the magical worldo ree animals and the sadness o actory arms.
Ruby Roth 

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