New children’s book promoting veganism sparks outrage for graphic images and unhealthy diet message – but how bad is a veggie food plan for kids
17:47 GMT, 17 April 2012
When it comes to the well-being of children there are myriad opinions and a million blogs purporting to have the answers to successful child-rearing.
So it is only natural that when a Los Angeles-based mother writes two children's books about veganism and raises her daughter on a strictly vegan diet, she will incite criticism from at least some experts and parents.
Ruby Roth, 29, the author of Why We Don't Eat Animals, has sparked debate with her latest release, Vegan is Love, among those who question the benefits of a vegan lifestyle to a growing child.
Dangerous Ruby Roth's children's book about the vegan lifestyle has sparked criticism by those who doubt the nutritional benefits of a vegan diet for kids
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Though the book, that launches on April 24, also tackles subjects such as clothing, animal testing and the use of animals for entertainment purposes, the real controversy surrounds the chapters about food.
With a cover adorned by cute, friendly looking beasts of the jungle and forest, Vegan is Love simplifies a potentially dangerous subject for young kids, some say.
A Kirkus review described the illustrations as 'colorful, stylized paintings' that 'vary in subject matter, from cheerful organic farms to starving children, wounded animals and raw meat', and noted that the content may be preferred by parents as material for olde children.
Nicole German, a registered dietician in Atlanta told TODAY: 'The main problem I have with this book is that children are impressionable, and this is too sensitive of a topic to have a child read this book.
Picture perfect: Ruby Roth's first book, like the newest release, contains vivid illustrations of animals that some say will scare children into eating vegan
'It could easily scare a young child into eating vegan, and, without proper guidance, that child could become malnourished.'
But while many like her may wonder how a child could possibly receive all the proteins and vitamins they need from such a restrictive diet, veganism does not eliminate any of the key nutrients necessary for development.
According to the Academy of Nutrition
and Dietetics, a well-planned vegan diet not only delivers the
requisite nutrients but it can also provide health benefits that aid the
prevention and treatment of disease.
Author: Ruby Roth wants to help heal the planet by living a vegan life
TODAY's own dietary expert Joy Bauer agrees that if a well-organised vegan eating plan includes B12 and vitamin D as well as iron, calcium, zinc and protein, there is no reason a child's growth should be threatened.
To do this, she says, vegan mothers who are breastfeeding should look to fortified soy milk as their source of B12, and once weaned, infants can also drink the same.
In fact, she expanded: 'Vegan diets provide all the nutrition you need to fuel your growing child and typically contain higher amounts of the “good stuff” – vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, etc. – than the standard American diet.'
The only risk, she explained, is that as kids get older and begin to have more control over what they eat they tend towards the starchier foods rather than the protein rich foods like beans, lentils, edamame, nuts and seeds.
For her part, Ms Roth's mission transcends the pros and cons of a nutritional plan. In a video trailer for the forthcoming Vegan is Love, she states: 'If we want to move towards an era of solutions where the planet is healing, people are fed and healthy, there is good in the way we do business and a reverence in the world for all living things, then all we have to is live that life ourselves.'
She adds: '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.'