Ruby Roth ’00 has been in the national spotlight for the past few months as the author of the children’s book, Vegan is Love. During a particularly hectic week, which included the launch of her latest book, Ruby took pause to chat about the whirlwind she is experiencing and share a few MA memories.
Tell us about your life today.
I’m a children’s book author-illustrator, writer, speaker, and designer. My week is split between creating art, writing and blogging at www.WeBeVegan.com, researching, running www.WeDontEatAnimals.com, publicizing, hitting up every farmer’s market in my area, and being part of an amazing little family—my honey artist Justin Bua and his seven-year-old daughter.
Your latest children’s book, “Vegan is Love,” has been stirring up a lot of controversy in the media for what critics are calling graphic images and content that is not appropriate for children? How do you respond to these critics?
There’s nothing any more graphic in my books than what any kid might see in any supermarket deli case, or any of the myriad hunting and fishing and cooking shows on TV. If it’s too scary to talk about, it’s certainly too scary to eat. In my experience in the classroom, and having heard from thousands of people around the world, I’ve never encountered a case where a child was overwhelmed by my books—only adults. In fact, when you speak frankly to children, they really pay attention because they feeling like they’re being let in on a secret, and they have incredible insight. When we give them the information they need to make educated choices, they choose wisely—for health, animals, and the planet.
It seems that these critics have catapulted you into the spotlight. Did you ever imagine that your childrens’ books would become such a hot topic? How has it felt to be in a national spotlight?
Even in spite of the controversy, I’m thrilled that this discussion is happening on a national scale—NBC, FOX, ABC News. The fact that people know what “vegan” means enough to argue about it is the first step! The support from the growing world populations of vegans has been tremendous, and every case of opposition provides me the opportunity to study mainstream beliefs about children, animals, health, and the environment. I hope to come to MA to speak about it!
Who from MA made the most significant impact on who you have become as an adult (classmate, teacher, etc)?
I’m not exaggerating, every single teacher and staff member present between 1996-2000 contributed to the monumental impact MA had on me—even staff I never had a class with. MA’s environment and overall commitment to questioning, democracy, critical thinking, and the freedom/work ethic balance had a major role in my educational and professional career. I tell people it was better than college.
What is the best YouTube clip you have seen in the last two weeks?
What is one of your funniest MA memories?
My best friend Lauren Scheckman and I were named Spirit Captains one year—the most sarcastic, irreverent duo ever hired for the job, I’m sure. For the election assembly, we held a banana-eating contest with one student from each grade. We blindfolded everyone, set the timers, and yelled “Go!” Immediately, we snuck up and removed the blindfolds off the unsuspecting sophomore, junior, and senior, but let the freshman keep rapidly, intensely stuffing his face as the whole school exploded in laughter. But typical of the supportive MA community, we all cheered and chanted for him while he thought he was winning and gifted him a prize, too. I’m not sure when he was finally told it was a stunt. Maybe right now.
If you were to re-enroll at Marin Academy, what would you do differently the second time around?
You’d best bet I’d be lobbying for the cafeteria to go vegan!