Sunday, November 1, 2009

Herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores alike will gobble up these veg-approved goodies.

The 14th annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival took place this weekend, and I hope you were able to get out in the beautiful weather and eat some yummy animal-friendly food! Many of us CG staffers (myself included) are vegetarian or vegan, so we were there in spirit even if we were here at the store, eating yummy animal-friendly food we brought from home instead.

As a long-time herbivore, I subscribe to the magazine Vegetarian Times. Imagine my delight at seeing George-approved items for veggie and green kids as I browsed the latest issue for vegan holiday recipes. It was like "what Vegetarian Times wants to buy this week"! First up is a Q&A with author Michael Pollan, who's just adapted his best-selling adult nonfiction book The Omnivore's Dilemma into a young reader's edition. (You can find it upstairs on the features table!) Several of us read the "grown-up" Omnivore's Dilemma for our book club, and while it was enlightening, I definitely would have preferred to read this more accessible version: all the same info, but made more digestible (har-har).

VT also featured a few of our green faves in their "Kid Stuff" holiday recommendations. Crocodile Creek's Moo Cow 7-inch ball -- like all their playground balls -- is already a hot seller around here! Trend-spotter Rachel long ago called the coolness of their other pick, the Green Toys Recycling Truck. Rach says, "Not only is this awesome green truck an excellent, sturdy toy, but it's also made entirely of recycled plastic! It has different compartments for bottles, cans and paper, catering to all the recycling needs of your toy room (or driveway, or sandbox). It's always a bonus when buying a really fun toy truck actually benefits the environment!" (Pssst... I think the Recycled News Colored Pencils are an awesome choice for the older kid in your life. I sense an impending "green gift" round-up!)

A dear friend who's a fellow children's bookseller, vegetarian, and book club member (hi Ari!) recently sent me a signed copy of Jonathan Safran Foer's new nonfiction book Eating Animals. We don't carry it at Curious George (....yet...), and I haven't even read it all the way through yet, but I am recommending it to vegetarian parents ANYWAY. Foer struggles with two of the herbivore's biggest dilemmas: eating local vs. eating veggie, and whether to raise kids vegetarian. This promises to be a compelling nonfiction read with the emotional complexity of his novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud.

Those parents who do have vegetarian kiddos should check out That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things by Ruby Roth. While upholding every family's right to make their own choices, this gently illustrated and compassionately written picture book explains the many ethical, environmental, and health reasons some families don't eat meat. That's Why We Don't Eat Animals not only inspires readers to consider living in a more animal-conscious way, but also empowers them with concrete examples of how to do so.

It's almost time to put up our "Happy Thanksgiving -- Save a Turkey!" poster. If you are also of the "No Turkey" or "Tofurkey" Day persuasion, make sure to pick up one of our vegetarian kids' cookbooks! Judi Gillies and Jennifer Glossop's Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook is a no-fuss multicultural veggie cookbook for the middle grade set. This book offers oodles of vegetarian and vegan dishes from around the world, appropriate for any occasion from breakfast to midnight snack. A handy key indicates each recipe's difficulty and time investment -- always a consideration! -- and whether it is suitable for vegans. They've also provided lots of information on nutritional needs for vegetarian kids, and give all measurements in metric as well as the more familiar (to us Americans) cup-and-teaspoon system.

Salad People, Pretend Salad, and Honest Pretzels by Mollie Katzen are three great vegetarian cookbooks for "preschoolers and up." You may recognize Katzen's name from the beloved Moosewood Restaurant, her adult vegetarian cookbooks, and Moosewood's frozen vegetarian foods (yum!). These adorable books are also ingenious: kid-friendly language and sequential panels clearly illustrate the steps for young chefs. Each recipe is a carefully planned balance of nutrition, education, creativity, and fun. Every "cartoon" diagram ends with the directive "EAT!" or "DRINK!" -- which really is the point of the whole cooking exercise, and one adults often seem to miss. Honest Pretzels just came out in paperback, which makes it even more kid-accessible and kitchen-sensible.

Once you've discovered your new favorite vegetarian recipe, let us know... We need goodies to keep us in prime condition for the upcoming holiday season! (P.S. I will personally taste-test any vegan fudge recipes you may be worried are not up to snuff for Christmas cookie platters.)

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