Vegan Author Debates Child Psychologist on FOX

August 5, 2014

I admit.

In certain moments, I couldn't keep the smirk off my face because I found myself experiencing—live—a segment that bordered on being a Will Ferrell comedy. 

Truly theater of the absurd, the moderator and child psychologist's opinions are so over-the-top, that just after this aired, I received a flood of well-wishing emails from FOX viewers voicing their disdain of such ridiculousness. Some of the most simple, but unforgetable for me were these from two men:

"I never take the time to address issues I see on the news, however I saw you on fox news this morning, talking about your book while graciously taking narrow minded criticism. After watching this segment of the news, I felt the need to try and contact you to offer some support...I have not read your book, but from what I gathered; the message your book gives, is a hard one for most to swallow. Not only because does it challenge what they should be teaching their children, but it challenges them to reconsider the truth for themselves." [sic]

And this one, from a man with an open mind:

"Saw ruby on fox today. Very articulate with good camera appeal. Im not a vegan, im 62 but certainly can see how ruby.s message could resonate if kept up." [sic]

Score. There are fair people watching FOX, if not on FOX. 

Touching emails like these, of course, were amongst a host of other grammatically-challenged, anonymous notes that accused me of being:

• "a pusher, no better than a crackhead drug dealer downtown."
• "manipulative"
• "twisted"
• "too skinny. Your ribs are showing." 
• "money-hungry"
• "just trying to destroy animal farmers and the fish industries."

Well...they were right about the last one.

Vegan Summer Soba Noodles

July 29, 2014

vegan soba summer noodle recipe

Is it just me? Or are you, too, experiencing more people exploring vegan food?! Even an old friend of mine—a butcher for a grass-fed, organic, blah-blah-blah meat company (yes, I have a friend like that, more on that in another newsletter)—is asking me for recipes...believe me, 
I'm on it (this would be the holy grail of all conversions. Hey. You never know—such a transformation has to start somewhere!).

My favorite recipes to share are those that are so easy you hardly need directions in the first place; recipes whose details and amounts can be left to it's maker's discretion, honing his or her food intuition. 

Here's one I keep making, first inspired by the potential color combination that these various fridge hanger-on-ers would make if I brought them together, haha!

Summer Soba Noodles
Serves 3-4

1 package soba noodles (I like Eden Foods' Mugwort Noodles)
3-4 few yellow summer squashes or zucchinis, chopped
1 crown of broccoli, chopped
a big handful of thinly chopped purple cabbage
toasted sesame seeds (these really make the dish!)
optional: ginger, finely chopped

Dressing: a drizzle of olive oil and Braggs/shoyu to taste

Cook the noodles according to the package, then rinse cold. While the noodles drain, coat a saucepan with a bit of water and lightly sautée the chopped broccoli and squash, just enough to soften them to your liking. Then toss them with the noodles, raw cabbage, and optional ginger, dressing each serving with olive oil, Braggs, and a hefty sprinkling of sesame seeds.

I like this dish chilled, but my family never waits that long. 

Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

How to Handle Parties with Vegan Kids

July 3, 2014

Vegan Kids Treats

One of your fellow subscribers, Cory W., had a question this week about his vegan kids and making exceptions for treats/special occasions. I think you'll relate:

Q. Today my 6-year-old daughter (who has not always been vegan) had a pizza party at summer camp. We made her a delicious vegan lunch, set up our expectations, but still she asked the staff members to call me for permission to eat the cheese pizza. I stayed strong and luckily had stashed a vegan ice cream bar for her and she was happy, but I felt so bad that everyone else was eating pizza around her and she wasn't allowed. Even more, I felt like a bad father when the staff asked me if she could have a slice and I said no. Am I possibly causing a food disorder in the future? Do some kids just NEED animal products? Is she going to rebel against us in her teen years and eat all the meat she wants? 
A. Firstly, only good dads would ask such questions in order to become better parents, so don't feel down for an instant! 

Second, all teens do potentially, but not necessarily rebellious things to assert their independence. You can not possibly imagine today what form that might take, so stop wasting time worrying about imaginary future scenarios. Keep a good head on her shoulders and "rebellion" might simply look like growing up (as annoying as that alone might be).

Let's focus on how to keep a good head on our kids' shoulders in the short term and long:

Good thinking supplying alternative treats. Only next time, I would recommend sharing your vegan contribution at the party—in this case a vegan pizza—so your daughter can celebrate along with everyone else, out in the open (and who knows, you might inspire others).

Your daughter didn't want that pizza because she's craving or needs animal products. She just wanted to enjoy eating with friends as a group. But to be sure, ask her! Find out what problem it is she's trying to solve by eating the cheese pizza (Mordecai Finley, PhD calls this strategy "parenting the soul of a child") and then seek a solution together. 

But here's the bottom line and bigger picture:

Your daughter still wants the cheese pizza because she doesn't yet understand WHY your family is vegan. She may need a little more coaching on the motives—you may not have taken previous discussions far enough for her unique mind in particular. She may need to hear more explicit reasoning from you to justify the family's new habits.  
At home, create more of a shared culture around your vegan choices. Include kids in grocery shopping, talk about your purchases, share your own new learnings (don't sugarcoat them, either!), visit animal sanctuaries, enjoy juice shops together, discuss fast-food ads when they pop up on TV, and ask lots of questions so your child begins to formulate her own values and opinions. See How to Help Kids Relate to the Ethics of Veganism and How to Keep Your Kids Veg Even When You're Not There for more help.

Eating disorders stem from fear and a compulsion to control, often arising out of unstable environments or psychological distress. Raising young vegans should not be about policing or enforcing rules. Rather, foster an atmosphere of critical thinking, education, and love, and your family's veganism will be based on celebration, reverence, and a passion for justice.  

It is always an option to tell your kids that they do not have your blessing to eat animal products, but nor do they need it; that you trust them to make intelligent decisions. My second book, Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action highlights all the opportunities we have to make kind and powerful choices. But at the end, I remind kids that only they get to decide how to eat and live. I trust that with enough information, an educated kid will choose wisely.

Can you relate? Leave a comment below!
Got questions? Email Ruby here.