That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians and All Living Things, written and illustrated by Ruby Roth
As a vegetarian mum I don't want to feed my children meat. This is relatively easy to enforce with toddlers but once they are teenagers if they want to sneak off to McDonalds I won't be able to stop them, nor would I want to. I want them to be able to choose for themselves when they're older, but I'd like that choice to be an informed one. In school kids are taught that meat and dairy products are an essential part of a healthy diet and everywhere you turn fast food full of animal products is being marketed to the young. To try and counteract all of that at least a little I looked for children's books about vegetarianism or featuring vegetarian characters, and was very pleased to find this one.
Explaining to little ones where meat comes from can be tricky, but this picture book by Ruby Roth tackles this fairly heavy subject matter with sensitivity. There is no blood and gore to give kids nightmares. Each animal is shown as it would be in the wild, with an explanation of natural behaviour, such as how turkeys celebrate and mourn together, pigs can recognise each others' voices at great distances and calves play follow-the leader. This is then contrasted with pictures of the animals penned in factory farms and a brief description of how such farms take away animals' freedom to express this natural behaviour. There are also sections on the ocean and endangered species and the importance of considering the way the food we eat affects the planet.
The illustrations are beautiful and the text is simple and straightforward. It was a little wordy for my two year old, though she did sit through it and seemed to grasp the concepts in it as well as enjoying the pictures. It would probably be better suited to a child of four or older but I would recommend it to any parent who wants to explain about food production and vegetarianism to their kids.