On “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals”
"That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things," written and illustrated by Ruby Roth, has gorgeous and haunting illustrations. And it gently tells the story of why we shouldn't eat factory farmed animals. And there is a prominent pro-environment theme as well, in addition to the notion of choosing respect.
Its target audience is children 4-10, which I never understood as a category because 4-year olds are nothing like 10-year olds cognitively.
The significant problem with this book is that the solution to the problems posed (which begin with "On factory farms . . . ") could easily be some Farm Forward-endorsed small operation where many of the horrors of factory farming don't exist. There is no mention of that solution, but I worry.
Is a 4- or 10-year old going to say, "Oh these places sure are terrible, but is there any place where babies get to stay with their mamas and walk around? Because if there's one of those places, can we eat those animals?" Who knows. Okay, a 4-year old's probably not going to say that. But a 10-year old might.
And then what?
It is true that the vast majority of animals raised for their parts are factory farmed. But it would seem to me that, especially when it comes to children, a consistent message of respect and justice, emphasizing it's not okay to eat animals because it's not okay to eat animals, factory farmed or not, would have been a better angle.
Interestingly, the book begins with "Pets," explaining that "All animals deserve the care and protection we give our pets," which is a promising notion for the start of this type of children's book. I think I would have felt much better if Roth had developed that angle, helping the kids see that pigs and cows aren't that much different from dogs and cats, thereby providing logical building blocks for their thinking to develop.
But instead, we go in the treatment direction and develop a negative emotional connection to factory farming that can probably be ameliorated, if not extinguished, if we remove the factory. And I'd prefer a different message.