Baby A and I have been (mostly) vegetarian for about 10 months. I haven't been 100% successful at maintaining my new lifestyle, but I am committed. We eat some fish and we eat dairy, but not meat or meat products.
I settled on this lifestyle choice as the best way for myself and my daughter. She hasn't noticed yet. You can't miss something you never had. But I've been wondering how I'll discuss it with her when she does notice.
Like usual, I turned to picture books for support and enlightenment. I found a great list of vegetarian/vegan picture book suggestions/reviews here.
I scoured the library, and left disappointed with their selection.
But I was also disappointed with some of the books.
The Gnats of Knotty Pine portrayed the hunters as fat, buck-toothed idiots, so after I flipped through it, I put it back on the shelf.
Farmer Duck was cute and worth a read--it's illustrated by Helen Oxenbury and written by Martin Waddell. But I thought the animals' emancipation was only vaguely related to supporting a vegetarian diet, mostly because it isn't terribly relatable in that particular theme--none of the farmers or ranchers I've ever known shared any qualities of laziness or gluttony like the human farmer in the book.
Charlotte's Web is wonderful, and deserving of its canonization, but not many of the animals people eat are famed and saved thanks to excellent image or brand managers working long hours advocating for them. (Perhaps more than I think are saved that way.)
Looking for a more direct message, I read That's Why We Don't Eat Animals, by Ruby Roth. The message is direct. Roth points out the tragic realities of factory farming and mass ranching, and over-harvesting in the ocean. The brief descriptions are evocative, but not graphic, frightening nor exaggerated. The illustrations are well-done but not my personal style. I would read this to a four-year-old, but not my toddler.
I'm still on the look-out for a vegetarian book that feels a little more positive. Is this naive? Can there be compassion without grief? Or responsibility without judgment?
Tell me, have you found any books for young children that encourage healthy lifestyles, whether you're veggie, vegan, or omnivorous?