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by Vesanto Melina and Gillian Meghan Walters
Children tend to gravitate to animals and love them. Adults guide them to care for companion animals; to love, feed, and pamper dogs and cats and make sure they are not harmed. At the same time, we live in a society that teaches us that it is okay to eat pigs for breakfast, chickens for lunch, and cows for dinner. In Canada alone, more than 800 million land animals are killed for food each year.
In King Zoom the Vegan Kid, author Gillian Walters tackles issues of dietary choice in a clear, honest, non- shaming and compassionate way. This book explains the what, why, and how of veganism.
2019 has been proclaimed as The Year of the Vegan! The Economist predicts that 2019 is the year vegan goes mainstream. Numbers of self-identified vegans have increased dramatically, particularly among young adults. The scientific evidence of factory farming’s impact on the environment and the health benefits of plant based diets can no longer be ignored. And there has never been an easier time to be vegan, with so many delicious options available.
Many youngsters who care about farm animals and wonder why our society treats them so differently from those we classify as pets will appreciate an age appropriate resource. They may be asked “Why are you vegan?” They may value support for their dietary choice.
An excellent resource for a child is Gillian Walters’ book, based on her own experiences and also on those of her son. In it, King Zoom shares real life farm animal rescue stories. Including the story of Penny, a piglet who jumped off the back of a truck that was speeding her towards her doom. This pig was picked up by a good Samaritan and she now lives happily at the RASTA sanctuary in Duncan, B.C. People typically do not recognize that pigs are feeling animals with the intelligence of a 3 year old. They can play computer games with a joystick adapted for their use. People often begin to shift their dietary choices when they begin to see other species as similar to the cat or dog in their family.
King Zoom explores options for activism, how to live with others whose dietary choices are different from his own, and how to take care of his own feelings around topics that arise.
Stargold the Food Fairy: the Plant-Based Edition, by BC Dietitians Claudia Lemay and Vesanto Melina www.stargoldfoodfairy.com is a fun resource that inspires youngsters to choose nutritious foods—for reasons that make sense to them.
For sound nutrition information at all stages of the life cycle, see the award winning Becoming Vegan: Express Edition or Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition, both by B. Davis and V. Melina. The above books are all available online, at bookstores and through Vancouver and many other libraries.
In The Secret Reason We Eat Meat, an 18 minute YouTube link, Dr. Melanie Joy talks about ways we classify animals. (Note: this video is adult fare. It includes a powerful 2 minute segment that shows why people become committed to a vegan dietary choice.)
Google “New York city schools adopt meatless Mondays” and you will discover articles featuring the dietary policy that was adopted in March 2019, for reasons of public health and also the environment.
Vesanto Melina(MSc) is a B.C. dietitian and author, www.nutrispeak.com; meatlessmeetup.com. Gillian M. Walters is a Registered Clinical Counsellor author, firstname.lastname@example.org.