When we first decided to homeschool Kyri, I wanted to incorporate vegan ethics into our education plans. At this young age, most if not all of what Kyri has learned about our vegan lifestyle has been informal – we discuss what we do and do not eat (or wear or use) and for what reason. She has learned to ask if something contains animals in it before eating it. We talk about why we don’t eat animals – at a level a five year old gets. She knows what it means for an animal to die, as she was with me when I discovered our 20-year-old cat had died. So she does understand that dead means, well, dead. So explaining to her that meat comes from dead animals is simple enough for her. She understands that animals are killed for food and that there are plenty of other things to eat besides animals, so why would you want to?
In our household, vegan is the norm. While my spouse is omni, he eats mostly vegan at home (we have a grilling agreement in place). However, outside of our home, Kyri is bombarded with non-vegan and non-vegetarian messages. From books and cartoons that promote circus attendance to toy food products that always contain meat products, messages about using animals for entertainment, eating meat and participating in the “standard american diet” are all around us. I try to buffer her and use the exposure as an educational opportunity, but I would love to have vegetarian- and vegan- friendly material so she doesn’t feel like she’s the only one. We are VERY blessed with our homeschool associations – at co-op the moms usually make an effort to ensure that there are vegan options for Kyri. This is so appreciated – I never ask for accomodation for our lifestyle (just a heads up so I can plan for an vegan alternative for Kyri if necessary) but it really helps to not have Kyri singled out over something like food.
I’ve begun compiling a list of childrens books that either have vegan/vegetarian themes or characters, or are geared toward vegan/vegetarian children. I’ve also found cookbooks aimed toward young vegetarians, and since Kyri is my kitchen helper and loves my cookbooks, I think these are worth checking out.
That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things
Herb the Vegetarian Dragon
Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale
Friends Forever: The Story of a Budding Friendship between a Vegetarian Spider and a Feisty Fly
The Secret Life Of Mitch Spinach
Mitch Spinach and the Smell of Victory
Big Bob And The Thanksgiving Potato
Vunce Upon a Time
‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
Growing Vegetable Soup
I’m a Vegetarian: Amazing facts and ideas for healthy vegetarians
I Love Vegetarian Food: Coloring Book
Kids Can Cook: Vegetarian Recipes Kitchen-Tested by Kids for Kids
The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook (Jumbo Books)
Easy Vegetarian Foods from Around the World (Easy Cookbooks for Kids)
Cooking With Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon
Salad People and More Real Recipes: A New Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up
For Parents: Childrearing
Raising Vegetarian Children : A Guide to Good Health and Family Harmony
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Because I am parenting a younger child I was not looking for ethics books geared toward older children and teens. This list will continue to be updated as I find additonal resources. I am also in the process of finding vegan-friendly resources online that would be helpful in a vegan/vegetarian curriculum. Look for that in a subsequent post.