Photographer: Jacob Rushing
Photo provided by Ruby
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kauai and the Bay Area, Ruby Roth is a pioneer in the realm of vegan books, as a leading author and illustrator of vegan literature and cookbooks for children. Many of the women I am interviewing for this vegan parenting series have Ruby’s books on their own shelves and it is a pleasure to welcome her into this series! I bought the “Help Yourself Cookbook For Kids” by Ruby this year and can’t wait to use it in the kitchen on cooking adventures with my son so am also personally grateful for the wonderful work she is doing. Ruby currently lives in Los Angeles with her family.
Visit her on social media and at her sites:
Facebook at That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals
Annika: When did you become vegan & why?
Ruby: In my early 20s, I was very involved in social justice activism and considered myself a health-conscious person—but I ate animal products. At some point, a vegan friend pointed out to me that my eating habits did not match my morals and my values and I took this charge very seriously. When I found out what I was participating in, it stopped me in my tracks. I went vegan as a health experiment and never want back, and the research I did solidified my commitment.
Annika: When did you first have the idea to write a vegan children’s book?
Ruby: I was teaching art at an elementary school and the kids were very curious about my vegan eating habits. I searched for a book we could read together, but what I found were just a few books starring a talking animal or vegetable. I decided to write the non-fiction books I wanted to read to these kids, in the honest voice I felt they deserved.
Annika: You are one of (if not the most) well known vegan children’s book authors currently! As a pioneer in vegan literature for children, what is your outlook for this niche of publishing?
Ruby: Thank you! It’s a niche inside of a niche, but I am happy to be a part of it. It was always important to me to do something with art that had a purpose beyond self-expression. Anyone author will tell you there isn’t money to be made in books, but these projects have been really meaningful to me. I hope more books, in general, will give children a little more credit for what they can comprehend.
Annika: In addition to the number of books you have written, you also have available at your website the “Young Activist 3-Book Gift Pack”. In your engagement with children, do you think adults could learn anything from the younger activist generations?
Ruby: Kids are very diplomatic when they learn about animal abuse and environmental issues—much more so than adults, who think they know everything already. Children’s first response is not defensiveness, but thought and consideration. Anyone, at any age, could benefit by mirroring that behavior.
Annika: Do you find on your speaking tours & gigs that people seem to generally be craving more media & literature for their vegan parenting needs & for their children?
Ruby: I definitely see an increase in interest everywhere for vegan information. Going vegan is a renegade thing to do in our societies, we have to collect our own information rather than rely on any given mainstream doctor or media outlet to help with any decent knowledge. So all these veg fests are really important gatherings of our own experts, brands, and people who have put a lot of effort into studying the right way to do veganism. I really want people to put their money where their mouth is and support each other as we all grow this movement.
Annika: Your books have been translated into several languages! How does it feel to know that children across the planet are reading your books & enjoying your illustrations & that vegan parents in many countries are discovering your titles?!
Ruby: It’s mind-blowing. I’m really proud of this movement and the way people share and seek out information. Getting my books out to the next generation is a grassroots effort and I’m happy to be involved in this worldwide community of truth-seekers who value life so much that they’re willing to change their own habits and the practices of future generations.
Annika: I saw one interview with you (I believe on a morning show) & loved how composed, straightforward & kind you were. What are your thoughts for vegans (particularly those in the public eye) for handling moments of great resistance or skepticism in discussing issues related to veganism?
Ruby: Thank you! You know what’s coming, so stick to your guns and know what you want to say. The media has no shame about going full-force to oppose us, you can’t let anyone throw you off your game. You know the frequently asked questions and concerns, come prepared!
Annika: My toddler son loves to be in the kitchen with me & I look forward to using your “Help Yourself Cookbook For Kids” with him soon. The recipes look delicious & the pages very fun & inviting! What was the process like for creating this cookbook. How long did you spend writing it & doing the illustrations? Did you have any taste test subjects?
Ruby: This project took a couple of years. The majority of that time was spent codifying recipes I make at home—turning them into a formula with directions when I usually don’t have a formula at all. I would make them again and again in little batches. I would have my step-daughter read through the directions and follow the recipes so I could watch and collect feedback and made edits, and I had some adult friends do the same—some had kids, some didn’t! Planning the artwork, the characters, the backgrounds, color-palettes, and plating was also tremendous work—everything had to be just right by the time we hit the photoshoot, because we wouldn’t have a second chance to redo anything. We shot the cover, extra interior spreads, and 60 recipes in 5 days—it was a madhouse!
Annika: Did motherhood have any influence on your vegan outlook?
Ruby: I see how healthy, strong, even-tempered, and smart my girl is and I think that being raised on whole, unprocessed plant-based foods and superfoods must have played a role in all of it. I’ve never witnessed a tantrum at any point in her life, she has no ailments, and she’s a competitive Jiu Jitsu champion, always super kind and caring to her opponents and teammates. She’s an amazing specimen—like a new species of human! There’s no way that food has NOT played a role.
Annika: Is your child’s school very vegan friendly? How does the school accommodate them as vegans?
Ruby: Yes, being in L.A., the school is relatively vegan-friendly when they throw events, but we don’t really look to school to be accommodating. We do what we do and we provide our own food if and when they might not.
Annika: What are some of her favorite foods?
Ruby: Kale salads, she loves raw sauerkraut, avocado, seaweed, veggie broths, soups, mushrooms, all fruit. She’s a great eater, we’ve always made trying new things normal.
Annika: Is your child’s pediatrician very vegan friendly? Did they express any specific concerns with your child being vegan?
Ruby: They look at her health statistics and even her blood tests, which we had done once, and they can’t really criticize. She was a little low on Vitamin D, but still in the normal range. The majority of all Americans are deficient in D, so we got some mushroom-based supplements that we take from time to time, just to be extra cautious.
Annika: How do you navigate situations like your children attending peer’s birthday parties where there may be predominantly non vegan food?
Ruby: It’s never been a problem because Akira’s vegan education is so deep. She’s not tempted by anything that’s clearly an animal product. And even when it comes to vegan treats, she doesn’t go overboard. She knows what feels good and bad in her body. I always say, when we give kids the information they need to make educated choices, they choose wisely. She always has.
Annika: What are some of your favorite foods?
Ruby: Kale, quinoa, mixed greens, avocado, olive oils, smoothies, almonds, cashews, raw chocolate, hummus, parsley, mint.
Annika: Favorite meals to make for your family?
Ruby: Smoothies, lentil soups, brothy mushroom soups, quinoa bowls, giant salads.
Annika: Favorite restaurants?
Ruby: I mostly prefer to eat at home, but I can always enjoy something at Little Pine, M Café, and Crossroads. And my favorite “eateries” in L.A. are actually juice bars. The Punchbowl is my all-time favorite.
Annika: Any specific challenges you face as a vegan mother & how you handle them?
Ruby: I think we’re all subject to questioning our choices at some point, we’re still the first large group of people in a relatively new movement without much “official” support—but I think that’s great. Pushback makes you double-check your research, do your homework, and get to the greatest information you can.
Thank You Ruby!
Check out Ruby on IG at@wedonteatanimals, on FB at That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals & her website WeDontEatAnimals.com
Akira in the Kitchen
Akira in the Help Yourself Apron, available in Ruby’s store
All photos provided by Ruby
This interview is part of an ongoing interview series by Annika Lundkvist with vegan parents around the globe. For more interviews and information please visit this page: Interview Series: Vegan Pregnancy, Parenting & Kids.