NEWMARKET — Pigs are for kissing, peppers are for cooking.
That’s the “gentle” message that Newmarket author and illustrator LuLu Lotus has for children in her storybook, Kiss or Cook?
The passionate vegan and busy single mom of two young boys born 10 months apart began writing to bring awareness to children about being vegan and to "teach them compassion about our animal friends".
Kiss or Cook? is her first vegan-themed storybook for children, with the third in her series being released next month.
The second book in her Choose Kindness series, Free or Force?, brings awareness about animals being held captive for our entertainment, and the third, Care or Wear?, teaches about animals being used for our clothing and other materials.
She takes a “gentle approach” to get across her message, she said.
“It is a difficult subject to talk to children about, what happens to animals.”
It was when Lotus fled from an abusive two-year marriage with her two babies and was staying in a women’s shelter that the idea for writing books for children about veganism first sparked.
“I’ve always wanted to write books,” she said. “The other kids (at the shelter) were interested in my kids’ diets, and were asking me questions,” she said.
She discovered there were few vegan-friendly books for children and she was inspired to begin writing and illustrating, working on her book after she had put her two sons to bed for the night.
“I would be so excited to start working on the book,” she said, soon discovering that her confidence and self-esteem was growing along with each page of the book.
“I felt so empowered, I felt that I could take care of myself and my sons,” Lotus recalled. “I felt so accomplished.”
She hopes she can be an inspiration to others who are experiencing domestic violence.
“Never forget that YOU control your own life and have the power to grow from your experiences. FOCUS and leave all of the darkness in the past — you deserve love and light," Lotus has posted on her Facebook page.
A gift from her uncle helped pay to have the first paperback book printed through Amazon self-publishing last November, she said.
She has been following a plant-based vegan diet for five years, except for a small period of time during her last pregnancy for health reasons.
“I really believe it is the most compassionate way to live,” she said.
“And I also feel it’s the healthiest way you can eat,” Lotus said, adding that the recently updated Canada Food Guide now promotes more plant-based protein and little dairy.
Some of her son’s favourite foods are broccoli and beans — “He would eat them all day,” Lotus said with a laugh.
The charming and colourful books have received a very positive response — the vegan community is giving her “lots of support”, she said — and her Facebook page is full of rave reviews from professionals, bloggers and parents alike.
Her biggest fans, however, are her little sons — who are currently both one year old for a couple of months — who love to lean in and kiss the pages of the storybook as she reads to them.
Lotus, whose pen name was inspired by "flowers that grow in the mud", said she also sells the book at vegan events and Chapters locations across the GTA.
For more information, visit her website.