When Ruby Roth decided to try the vegan lifestyle a few years ago, it was for health reasons, not activism. But as her health improved so did her resolution, especially after research led her to conclude that veganism was more in line with her morals and values.
Later, at an after-school program, her art students were fascinated by her choice to abstain from the snack they were served each day. Roth looked for books that would help explain her decisions to children; when she couldn’t find any that “didn’t have talking animals and vegetables,” she decided to write her own. That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals is currently going into its second printing and is distributed in multiple languages. Vegan is Love, her recently released second book, secured her role as an author and advocate for the vegan life.
We caught up with Roth at Clean Plates-approved Sage bistro to eat well and talk about her voyage into writing, the controversy surrounding her books and veganism.
Q: What surprised you the most about the controversy surrounding your books?
A: A lot of opponents tell me the information is scary; that surprised and pleased me. My books are gentle but honest discussions about our treatment of animals in this country, and it should disturb people. I write for those who want to love deeply, think critically and act responsibly. Children understand, more than anyone, the inherent connection between people, animals and the earth. Why can’t the discussion start at a young age?
Q: Many people find veganism extreme, and some suggest it is unhealthy. What is the biggest misunderstanding you’ve found?
A: People imagine veganism as the standard American diet minus the meat and dairy, which is unbalanced and unhealthy! Eating that way is restrictive and deprivative. There is actually a Vegan Food Pyramid that makes sure everyone gets what they need, and even some nutrients often missing from the standard American diet like vitamins B-12 and D.
Q: So what’s next for you?
A: I’m working on a third book, which will be another tenet of veganism. That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals is about why one might want to consider veganism, Vegan is Love is about how to make vegan choices — there’s still more to say! My art prints are available on my website, and I’m keeping up my blog with politics and recipes.
Q: You’ve said, “You don’t have to be vegan to make vegan choices.” What does that mean?
A: People can get overwhelmed by the idea of changing their entire eating patterns and lifestyle. It’s about educating yourself and making choices that are right for you.
Q: About being overwhelmed: For those who want to begin eating vegan, where should they start?
A: I don’t recommend doing it all at once; that’s hard and no fun! Make it a transition about adding new foods to your diet, using the vegan food pyramid and crowding out the old ones gradually.