Mom to Mom: Ruby Roth
I can't think of a more fitting thought for the new year...
Mom: Ruby Roth
Of: Akira, 5 (step-child)
Where: Los Angeles, CA
Site: We Don't Eat Animals
1. In what ways has becoming a mother changed you?
I’ve had to make a concerted effort to learn to accept that the day doesn’t always turn out that way I plan it to. I used to have an I-Can-Do-It-All vision of my future, meaning I took for granted that as an adult, I’d manage to have a burgeoning career, a man, kids, a clean and tidy home. It was a blow to my imagination when I realized that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything well… but ultimately this is a great thing! I’m learning to be clear on what I need to do and what I can let go of doing, so that I’m available to my family instead of trying to do everything everyday and being a nervous wreck! Everybody wins.
2. What inspired you to write That's Why We Don't Eat Animals?
I was teaching art at an elementary school and the kids were always curious about why I wasn’t eating the string-cheese they were served at snack. In a very non-emotional, matter-of-fact way, I began sharing my reasons, which ranged from health, to the emotional lives of animals, to their treatment on factory farms. It was the children’s incredible continued interest and insight that made me look into resources I might further share with them. But I couldn’t find a book on the subject that wasn’t based on a talking animal or vegetable—which I felt they were too smart (and cool) for. Art and veganism are two of my favorite studies and so I used the impetus of the children’s interest to get started on writing and illustrating the book.
4. What message would you like to share with children who want to be vegetarians?
Be proud, be confident, and never fear standing up for yourself or any other living being. I think it takes a super smart, clear-headed kid to come to the conclusion that he or she does not want to eat animals. These kinds of kids are powerful, intelligent, and aware. They grow up with a great sense of connectedness to animals and the environment—a feeling that we hold a powerful place in this web of life because our choices ripple out into the world. I’m so very proud to be in touch with so many vegan and vegetarian kids!
5. What message would you like to share with parents?
Do not fear discussing the truth about food and where it comes from with your child. I’ve never once experienced a kid to be overwhelmed by the information, as long as you don’t relay the facts in a hysterical manner. I say in my book that each day, we have the freedom to change our lives. I think this is a very important concept for anyone to absorb—and one to emphasize when you read the book to a kid: we never have to fear things that we have the power to change. And kids get it. Secondly, even if you eat meat, add more raw, vegan foods to your diet. It is more about adding new foods than giving up others. Know what you’re eating and where it comes from, and examine your ambivalences about vegetarianism and veganism (gender, health myths, addictions, etc.). In college, I was surrounded by vegans and the thought of trying it myself never occurred to me because I didn’t identify with the image of a vegan. I had tunnel vision. Now, I could never go back.
6. Lastly, what moves you, grounds you, fills your well?
I have this one figured out! Firstly, making physical contact with the natural world is fail-safe: getting my feet in some sand or dirt is grounding on an electromagnetic level (literally, go stand barefoot in your backyard for five minutes—it changes your whole perspective!). I get the same feeling from visiting an animal sanctuary, shopping at my local farmer’s market, or simply getting some fresh air. And if L.A. traffic prevents any of this, I turn to something I can do at home, something that puts me in the zone, something that makes me switch from the emotional side of the brain to the logical: observational drawing, studying a language book, writing in a journal, even what I call “Zen Dishwashing:” clearing the house, and thus my state-of-mind, from clutter.
*Our little family will be doing community service in honor of MLK day on Monday. See you Wednesday.