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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Reading


Each issue the VIP birds will endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book that contributes to vegetarian enlightenment. In this issue we review two children's books, one for preschool, the other for preteens and teens.

What Is a Vegetarian?

Written and Illustrated by Debra Stewart

Debbie Lou Productions, 1999

What Is a Vegetarian? Publishers have not paid much attention to young children who are vegetarian, perhaps because they perceive this group as a limited market. In surveying the literature for vegetarian books for young children, one has to engage in an extensive search to uncover even a few items.

Debra Stewart helps to alleviate that need by writing and illustrating a simple picture book that can be read to the young children of vegetarian families. Inspiration for the volume came from her granddaughter who arrived at preschool with her vegetarian lunches and soy milk. The book was written to help her daughter and other vegetarian children understand why they were different from the others in their school. As Debra says, "The day that the school read it to her class, none of the kids wanted to eat their chicken nuggets."

The book begins by graphically showing and discussing the differences people have in activities, beliefs, and even food choices. The author then presents illustrations that reveal that "vegetarians do not eat any meat." That means no cows, pigs, lambs, chickens, or fish. She summarizes by saying vegetarians "do not eat anything that has a face or that has a mommy or daddy."

Debra then illustrates the many types of non animal foods available to vegetarians who can eat these foods and still be healthy. She concludes by saying that animals are friends, and people don't eat their friends.

What Is a Vegetarian is a valuable addition to the library of a vegetarian family, especially one that has young children. Through colorful, two-dimensional drawings and a simple text, Debra Stewart creates a message any young child can understand.

Everything You Need to Know about Being Vegan

By Stefanie Iris Weiss

Rosen Publishing Group, 1999

Know Vegan What does vegan mean? Why would someone adopt a vegan lifestyle? What does a vegan eat? These are some of the questions Stefanie Iris Weiss answers in Everything You Need to Know About Being Vegan,a book written for pre-teens and teens.

One of the issues a potential vegan confronts is the killing of animals for food. The author, a vegetarian for ten years, explains that many vegans choose their lifestyle "to keep their Karma intact." When individuals understand what happens to make chicken appear on their plates or milk in their glasses, they will understand why people turn to veganism. The cruelty and suffering of animals are discussed, including factory farming methods of agribusiness that lead to the inhumane treatment of animals to supply food.

Turning to veganism to improve one's health is another focus of the book. A diet that is heavily carnivorous will expose the person to large amounts of pesticides, antibiotics, bovine growth hormone, salmonella, cholesterol, and saturated fat. A vegan who follows a whole food regimen instead of processed foods loaded with preservatives will be much healthier than his junk-food-eating peer.

The author exposes "The Protein Myth" and the calcium concern by showing that a plant-based diet will provide enough of both of these essentials. She provides three pages of bright blue charts to show the percentage of calories from protein in many vegetarian foods.

In a section titled "Making Choices" she discusses the difficulties a person faces after becoming vegan. Some include relationships with family and friends, shopping, eating out, and clothing choices.

Her section on cooking describes the importance of soy bean products like tofu, soy milk, textured vegetable protein, and tempeh. She presents five easy recipes to include in the new vegan's cooking repertoire.

The book concludes with a glossary, books for further reading, and a "Where to Go for Help" resource list.

Stephanie manages to present the essential features and reasons for veganism in a 64 page book. Anyone over the age of ten would have an easy time navigating through this volume that could be read in a half hour. The book has a number of photographs, including one of Gandhi and one of Drew Barrymore, a modern day vegan celebrity.

Everything You Need to Know about Being Veganis an important book because it explains veganism to young people in a simple way using an attractive format. If you don't buy it, request a copy at your local library.

Click here for past book reviews

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