Wednesday, March 23, 2016

10 Questions: Vegan Rockstar with Ruby Roth


How fabulous is Ruby Roth? I’m not sure how to quantify fabulousness but I’d say she’s pretty up there.
Ruby Roth is a talented artist and book author who burst on the scene in with her beautiful and poignant book, That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals in 2009 (watch the Fox News anchors freak out on the unflappable author, which paved the way for her follow-up efforts, Vegan is Love in 2012 and V is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind in 2013. All of Ruby’s books are geared to children and are lushly illustrated by the author. I am appreciative that her books speak honestly but sensitively to children, who are so often feel a strong emotional connection to other animals: she manages to be both candid and considerate of tender feelings as well as empathetic to the feelings of despair and sadness children might feel when learning about what we do to animals. Thankfully, Ruby also offer alternatives and gives her readers a chance to become empowered to take compassionate action after they have learned about what happens in so many abusive industries. It’s not all doom-and-gloom, though! Her books also overflow with enthusiastic encouragement for embracing a mindful, cruelty-free life.

Ruby’s newest effort, to be released April 5 but taking pre-orders, is a really exciting addition to her collection: The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: 60 Easy Plant-Based Recipes Kids Can Make to Stay Healthy and Save the Earth I was lucky enough to receive an early copy and it is a fantastic new resource for vegans, vegan kids and people who are transitioning, full of fun, health-focused recipes, whimsical illustrations and great bits of information, all aimed to get kids in the kitchen and cooking tasty vegan food. (Full review to be published on Friday!) Ruby Roth is a very positive and creative world-changer and I am so glad to be able to share her thoughts today as this week’s Vegan Rock Star. 

1. First of all, we’d love to hear your “vegan evolution” story. How did you start out? Did you have any early influences or experiences as a young person that in retrospect helped to pave your path?

I think I was always vegan at heart, I just didn’t know it. My mom had been vegetarian my entire life, I always loved animals, I was raised part-time on an organic tree farm on Kauai, my grandparents were holocaust survivors which instilled many sensitivities in me, I’ve always been anti-authoritarian and punk rock at heart, I had a very progressive, liberal education in high school and college, and participated in a lot of activism for various social justice causes. But I ate meat and had never questioned it. Then, when I was 20, a new friend pointed out to me that my eating habits didn’t match my morals and values. And when I looked into the reasons why, I was absolutely shocked at what I was participating in. It changed my view on justice, health, environmentalism, and all the activist work I had done before without putting my money where my mouth was! I stopped eating animal products cold turkey as a “heath experiment” and never went back. It’s been about 11 years.

2. Imagine that you are pre-vegan again: how could someone have talked to you and what could they have said or shown you that could have been the most effective way to have a positive influence on you moving toward veganism?

What worked for me is someone picking up on my particular values and passions before they took aim. My friend knew I was concerned with social justice and with health, too. His approach was, “Hey, you’re into activism, you’re into health, check THIS out.” And I think that’s a great approach for all activists. You have to become a good listener—not for an opening to give your favorite spiel that you’ve practiced a million times, but for an opening to find out what a particular person is into, what they’re about, and present an angle from there. Also, having people around me who were positive, energetic, shining examples of health, and full of the knowledge to point me on my way—which at first was simply incorporating kale into my diet for the first time—was major.

3. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message as a vegan? For example, humor, passion, images, etc.?

One-on-one, I get the most traction out of simply being helpful—and it’s funny, because this ties in directly to my new book, The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids! Humans are self-oriented. If you can find a way to offer someone help or resources or anything that serves their needs or interests, they’re usually into it! If someone wants to lose weight, you have (vegan) answers. If someone needs new lipstick, you have (vegan) suggestions. I’m serving kids with fun in the kitchen, and their parents by getting their kids to eat more fruits and veggies, and then I don’t need to say hardly anything at all about veganism—I’m helping them help themselves—and all other living beings, too.

4. What do you think are the biggest strengths of the vegan movement?

First, we have truth on our side—no one can argue with undercover footage of animal abuse. And more and more, statistics and numbers about the effects of animal agriculture on global food distribution and world hunger, the environment, and our health are hitting the mainstream. Two, vegans are great sharers. Going vegan is so transformative, you want to share all the benefits you experience and learn about with everyone you know. And as “annoying” as people say we are with our sharing, there’s a reason you can get quinoa at Applebee's now. Vegan activism works.

5. What do you think are our biggest hindrances to getting the word out effectively?

In-fighting and negativity within the movement. I post a lot of news and I see many people waste a lot of time saying “nothing is ever enough” or leaving vitriolic, hateful commentary about who can claim “vegan” or not. A positive post about a new or helpful resource will get fewer shares and likes than one about a celebrity or an exposé. We need to support the world we want to see, not just promote the superficial or negative. I understand the anger and the sadness, but I think every single person working for the cause has to learn to process it instead of unleash it. It almost never does good, no matter how justifiable the emotions are.

6. All of us need a “why vegan” elevator pitch. We’d love to hear yours.

Given the specific looming problems of our era—from mental and physical health to water, energy, the environment, politics, agriculture, biotech, and the economy —I think veganism is the right direction to go in this day and age. People making vegan choices seem to me to be the only figures in the public realm addressing all major issues at their roots instead of trying to band-aid a million problematic tributaries. 

7. Who are the people and what are the books, films, websites and organizations that have had the greatest influence on your veganism and your continuing evolution?

Earthlings, The Food Revolution by John Robbins, all books by David Wolfe, the annual Longevity Now Conference, all books by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, the documentaries Blackfish, Cowspiracy, Food Matters, and the consistent study of all kinds of books about the underbelly of our culture—from food to medicine, government, economy, health, labor, history—it all adds to my vegan arsenal of knowledge.

8. Burn-out is so common among vegans: what do you do to unwind, recharge and inspire yourself?

Yes, you have to find ways to let out all the sadness and anger about the world so that it doesn’t affect your personal or public progress. Music is very cathartic for me—blasting it in the car or listening with earphones. Sometimes, though, I have to just lay on the floor, be quiet, breath or cry or just watch my thoughts, and stay there until the feelings dissipate.

9. What is the issue nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like others to know more about?

If I could upload or transfer an idea into other people’s heads, it would be, above all, about the transformative power of veganism—on one’s self, on animals, the environment, and on the public realm at large. 

10. Please finish this sentence: “To me, being vegan is...”

…one of the best ways to learn how to love deeply, think critically, and act responsibly (my motto!).

1 comment:

  1. Impressive question and answer form of understanding this post and also the details of your information. Thanks a lot for this sharing.

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