The blog below is written by Nigel Dunn - Animal Justice Project Volunteer.
"Animal Activism has many forms and many guises: street protests, occupations, petitions, social media campaigns and undercover investigation to name a few. One area of activism that isn’t as well known or supported focusses on children, to promote discussion with young children within centres of early learning, schools and nurseries, they are vital and until now have been untapped places to grow veganism and the rights of animals.
Children are powerful advocates for change, current teachings are outdated and ‘traditional’ where the cruelty and violence within animal agriculture is normalized and desensitized, the horrendous exploitation inherent within dairy production is a classic example as our recent investigation has exposed. We need to offer these children the truth and balanced learning to enable them to challenge these outdated teachings, Vivi the Supervegan is a book that a child can hold up to the world and ask why? Why does it have to be this way, it will empower a child to challenge and to change.
Children are born gentle, caring and empathic. Traditional and current education promotes an entirely blinkered and sanitised view of farmed animals, turning sentient beings into commodities, numbers and profit. We at AJP recognise this and this is the reason we launched our ‘Free Vegan Books in Schools’ Campaign!
When starting the campaign, I looked at a number of books and spoke to various children’s authors across the world. One book stood out: ‘Vivi the Supervegan’ by Tina Newman. A book that spoke about animal welfare, empathy and veganism in a subtle, honest and gentle way. Tina's book is written and illustrated in a sympathetic and engaging way for young children and perhaps most importantly is a visually acceptable book for a school to allow through those traditional school doors!
We had the commitment, we had the idea, and then we had the book. But blindly gifting a vegan book to a random school would not have been productive or a good use of donated monies; we didn’t want Vivi simply to be placed on to a library shelf never to be seen again! We needed to target receptive schools and find a way for the book to be read, used, shared and understood.
Step forward: ‘Vegan Inclusive Education’, who supplied us with a list of nominated schools who have at least one vegan child in their care, and also welcome to the stage, Laura Chepner founder of ‘Primary Veducation’ who has developed and created a trail blazing ‘Teaching and Learning Pack’ to accompany Vivi the Supervegan, for compassionate Year 1 teachers and children and much, much more!
We now had the tools we required to embark on this endeavour of enlightenment, and so last spring we launched our ‘Free Books for Schools Crowdfunder’ and we began fundraising with our friends at ‘Global Vegan Crowdfunder’. Then came the onerous task of contacting hundreds of schools across the UK!
In total we individually contacted 500 schools, nurseries and early learning centres.
x392 were happy to receive our free gifted Vivi The Supervegan.
x89 schools are currently ‘consulting and thinking about’ accepting our free book
x19 politely (or not so politely) declined our free book!
Thanks to amazing donations from our supporters, we raised over £3,000! Allowing us to gift over 390 separate schools and nurseries …outreaching to thousands of children!
Comments below are from those involved in helping me grow this Vivi seed...
“Things are currently not vegan-friendly in the school system and early years setting. Everything is geared towards the way we exploit animals from nursery rhymes, songs, to the food and school trips. This campaign is so incredibly important as it aims to bring about balance and inclusion to schools which is so needed, not only to support vegan pupils but to introduce non-vegan children to veganism and a kinder way of life” – Tina Newman, Vivi the Supervegan book series Author.
“I love this project! It harnesses the power of vegans all over the country to get Tina’s brilliant books into schools where they can help dozens of children discover the power of veganism. I cant wait for the next push!” – Ruth, Vegan Inclusive Education.
“Vegan children deserve to look in a library at their school and find vegan literature, not only to see themselves represented in wider society but also to provide a crucial platform for understanding and acceptance. This wonderful project enables that and i’m all for it!” – Laura Chepner, Chair of the Vegan Society’s Education Network.
We will relaunch again this year and hopefully push past 500 books!
Peace, love and thank you!
Nigel Dunn, Volunteer
Tina Newman - Mum of 2 and author of the children's book series Vivi the Supervegan; fighting for more compassion and peace in this world.