John, Deo, and Ocean Robbins
Interviewed by Morissa Williams
Social activists, humanitarians, and loving parents, vegans Deo and John
Robbins, their son Ocean, and his wife, Michele, are celebrated for their
work in creating a healthier, more compassionate world. Ocean and Michele
are now the parents of two beautiful children of their own. The expressions
of their compassion and profound love of the world have flowered in many
books and several galvanizing organizations and websites.
John Robbins is the author of The Food Revolution, Diet for a New
America, Reclaiming Our Health, and The Awakened Heart, co-written
with Ann Mortifee. Ocean Robbins is the author of Choices for our Future,
co-written with Sol Solomon. In addition, "Diet for a New America" is
available as an award-winning, widely-praised videotape, and "The Food
Revolution" is available as an audiotape.
In his dynamic and meticulously researched books, John Robbins shines a
spotlight on the multi-faceted and profoundly connected issues of food,
diet, animal welfare, public health, the environment and the often
devastating corporate influences on all these central social concerns. These
books brilliantly present the tragic health, spiritual and moral impacts of
America's acceptance and dependence on a diet and lifestyle mired in
callousness towards animals, the environment, and our fellow human beings.
What is most marvelous about these books, however, is that Robbins points
towards solutions, shares stories that will inspire you to hope, and offers
workable, exciting solutions for any families wishing to live more
compassionate and loving lives.
Ocean Robbins, raised as a vegan, was an activist from his youngest days.
His book, "Choices for Our Future", written before he was 20, encouraged his
generation to choose a life of loving activism and dedication to a
healthier, more peaceful planet. Further, it helped show his peers
effective strategies to help make this so.
Ocean and Michele are the Co-Directors of YES! (Youth for Environmental
Sanity), an organization, that, as its website explains, "connects, inspires
and empowers young changemakers to join forces for a thriving, just, and
sustainable way of life for all." Any parents contemplating with concern
the immense social pressures on their children to conform to unhealthy
social norms will be reassured to see the altruism and hope of these
dedicated young people.
The YES! website goes on to explain, "Youth stand at a threshold point in
life, as they make choices that will send out vast ripples. Some young
people believe growing up means abandoning their ideals. To us, it means
learning how to live our ideals, every day, on the Earth. We believe that if
the passion, creativity and commitment of youth can be liberated for the
common good, we can transform our world."
Reading these books and learning about these organizations, the dedication,
achievements and nurturing of Deo Robbins in all of these endeavors is
manifest. Deo coordinates and facilities personal growth workshops and
retreats, and she is the Co-founder & Outreach Director of EarthSave
International, and on the Board of Directors of YES!, among countless other
labors of love.
The Robbins family created Earthsave in 1989. As its
website notes, "EarthSave was founded in 1989 by John Robbins to channel the
tremendous response to his book, 'Diet for a New America', into sustained
and positive action. With nearly 40 chapters in the United States, and many
others throughout the world, the organization promotes food choices that are
healthy for people and for the planet, helping countless numbers to shift
toward plant-based diets and to take compassionate action for all life on
Earth. The organization's programs are essentially educational, working
internationally, nationally, and through local chapters to get the word out
and to help people discover alternatives to the Standard American Diet."
Finally, the Robbins website, www.foodrevolution.org, is a treasure trove of
resources, articles and links for all families seeking ways to make
compassionate choices in diet and lifestyle. Vegan parents will find it
hugely valuable and helpful.
The following interviews with Deo, Ocean and John were conducted in July
AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN ROBBINS
Q. John, your book, Diet for a New America, galvanized my conscience. I
had been a vegetarian for several decades, and was always uncomfortable
eating dairy and eggs, but when I read Diet for a New America I saw the
immensity of the tragedy of which I was a part. I realized I had succumbed
to intense social and familial pressures to conform to the typical American
diet, and I saw in what egregious way my dietary choices were harming myself
and others. Yet it still took a major health crisis to transform me into a
vegan. How I wish I'd made the change decades before.
As a parent, John, what would you tell vegan parents who are facing similar
social and family pressures to conform to unhealthy and cruelty-supporting
food and lifestyle choices? Do you think it is simpler now to raise a child
as a vegan than it was when your son Ocean was born?
A: It takes inner strength to be true to your integrity in a culture that
often pulls in a different direction. There are forces in our society that
want you to be passive, compliant and ignorant. They want you to buy ever
more useless junk rather than express your life force, your compassion, and
your creativity in the direction of your highest values. They want you to
eat burgers and fries rather than food that nourishes your body and soul.
It is an act of rebellion against the anti-life forces to live with
reverence and respect for yourself and for all beings. It subverts the
dominant paradigm to live mindfully, passionately, and with inner purpose.
When you uphold the possibility of a healthy, compassionate, and thriving
way of life for all, your choices become the foundations for your children's
growth and maturity.
In the face of social and family pressures, it's helpful to remember that
your purpose is never to change anyone else, but always to do the work you
are here to do. And in guiding your children along, it's good to realize
that they have a purpose and a wisdom which may be beyond your
understanding. As Buckminster Fuller once said: "Our children and our
grandchildren are our elders in universe time. They are born into a more
complex, more evolved universe than we can experience or than we can know.
It is our privilege to see that new world through their eyes."
It is simpler now to raise a vegan child, in that there is a great deal more
awareness about vegan lifestyles than there used to be. But it is also
harder, in that the culture has become more violent, and even more
consumption based. In the long run, it doesn't really matter whether it is
easy or difficult. What matters is to undertake with great love the work
that has been entrusted to you in this life.
Q. You and Deo have raised a child with an immense love for the planet.
Now he is a father and an activist himself. Did you ever worry, when he was
little, that he would be swept into the tide of the conventional American
lifestyle that threatens the health and well-being of other young people?
A: I am so fortunate, because I get to see and bathe in Ocean's love for
life every day. It has been and continues to be the greatest privilege and
honor of my life to be his father. Yes, sometimes when he was little I
worried about him becoming swept into the prevailing lifestyle, but I prayed
continually for the strength to assist him in being true to himself, and to
help him to use life's difficulties and challenges to become every more
deeply rooted in his essential being. And I knew that if I was going to
help him see the opportunities in obstacles, I would have to learn to do
that myself, too. I don't believe you can say to a child, "Do as I say, not
as I do," and retain much moral authority in their eyes. If I was going to
be able to support my son in honoring his integrity, then I needed to honor
mine, too. If I was going to help him to live with joy, self-confidence and
power, then I needed to learn how to do that, too.
Three-and-a-half years ago, Ocean's wife (and my daughter-in-love) Michele
gave birth to extremely premature twins. After the birth, we were told that
the babies almost certainly would live, but we were not allowed to touch
them for many hours. We were also told that they would require many months
of hospitalization, marked by massive and sustained medical intervention. We
also learned that there was a 25% chance that they would suffer from a
severe and permanent disability, such as blindness, deafness, or cerebral
palsy necessitating a wheelchair.
Watching how Ocean responded to this extremely painful challenge taught me a
lot about who we can be as human beings. He responded with vast love,
seeming limitless inner strength, and exquisite courage. And his twin sons
are thriving now, despite their extremely difficult beginning. I am so awed
and inspired by the kind of father he is, and the kind of mother Michele is.
Ocean has become such a powerful and clear human being that I no longer have
even a trace of worry about his being overwhelmed by a culture that
sometimes values material possessions more than human wellbeing. And I am
very grateful that he met and married such a wonderful woman as Michele. He
is in the best of hands with her. I could not love her more if she were my
own biological daughter.
Q. Your book, May All Be Fed, deserves pride of place on the bookshelves of
all families. As a vegan mother (with an omnivore husband) who often
employs her vegetarian child as an assistant chef, I love both the recipes
and the compassionate quotes and the research about healthy diets,
accompanying them. My four-year-old is fascinated by what he learns when I
read aloud from this book. He was breastfed for three years and understands
full well what a tragedy it would be to remove a baby animal from its mother
in order to take her milk away and give it to someone else - especially if
the baby animal will go on to live and die in suffering. Your book is
helping me help him make compassionate connections, and what's most
wonderful is that as we are creating healthy food together, he understands
that we are helping support a lifestyle that can help feed the planet even
as it promotes compassion for other animals - and that can help us be
healthy all our lives.
John, do you think parents sometimes underestimate the ability of their
children to understand their own stature in the world - the power that they
themselves have either to further suffering, or to diminish it?
A. Yes, as parents we often underestimate our children's powers, and we do
that for the simple reason that we have learned to underestimate our own.
If we can live in alignment with our deepest purpose, then we can help our
children to do the same. If we are continually throughout our lives
learning how to alleviate suffering wherever we find it, then our children
will learn from our example. Our effort must be to awaken from the cultural
trance that teaches each of us we are helpless in the face of suffering.
When you realize how much your love matters, you will never feel powerless
Q. Your philosophy of living integrates compassion for individuals, their
communities, and for the globe encompassing all communities. What always
astonishes me about your books is that they face the agonizing realities of
the world without blinking, yet find - and share with readers - the courage,
the faith and the love to work for a more compassionate world. A world
where no one is hungry, where animals are not brutalized, where health is as
vibrant as it can and should be.
I've just been reading the memoir included in The Food Revolution called
"The Pig Farmer". In that memoir, you describe meeting a man who maintained
a brutally cruel pig "farm", where the pigs lived caged inside, in filth and
misery, immobilized their entire lives. Yet, invited to dinner at the
farmer's own table with his family, you and the man seemed to meet one
You described the astonishing conversation you had as, at first, you were
treated as an adversary, and then, as someone who could be trusted to hear
a heart-rending story, were told a story the man had locked inside himself
all his life. You described how the man's emotional life had been
paralyzed, as a child, when he was forced to butcher a pig he loved dearly,
or face unbearable exile from his father's love. You described how, over
time, relieved of the emotional burden he'd carried over the years, he
became able to believe that he could follow his own conscience and still
have worth - could still be loved, and he gave up raising pigs for
slaughter, and became an organic vegetable farmer, even starting a program
to help educate schoolchildren about the intelligence and friendliness of
In your research and your books, you document the unfathomably cruel ways
animals are brutalized in our society, yet you find the core of love that
exists in all beings.
John, was the meeting with this farmer, and perhaps similar encounters
elsewhere, part of makes your work feel like a bridge across the chasm
between cruelty and compassion? Do you ever feel that you and your family,
with your books, with Earthsave, with YES!, are helping other families
assume a greater measure of their own intrinsic compassion and integrity, by
encouraging them to make compassionate and fully informed choices about
food, about health, and the way they live and work?
A: I am humbled by the fact that my books and work have helped a lot of
people. It is a source of joy to me that so many people are working in
their lives to honor their humanity and make their lives expressions of
The journey from cruelty to compassion can take thousands of lifetimes, or
it can take a single second. To my eyes, this dear world has seen enough
violence, enough injustice, enough pain. I want so deeply to use my life to
help the world and each being here to be a little happier, a little more at
peace, with a little more beauty and healing in their lives. Isn't that
what we all want, at our cores? Haven't we had enough of the opposite?
I've always felt my soul reflected in the prayer of St. Francis:
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
May I seek
Not so much to be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand.
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
In pardoning that we are pardoned,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life."
Q. When I read your book, Reclaiming Our Health, I was reading it in tandem
with books by a number of other progressive health advocates such as Dr.
John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Dean Ornish, all of whom recommend
pure or nearly pure vegetarian diets for better health, and have published
books which deal explicitly with the diet-health connection.
Their point of departure is mainly the safeguarding of the individual's
health, while you examine not only the health of the individual, but the
social implications for everyone of our culture's emphasis on drugs and
surgery over a healthy, compassionate diet and lifestyle. Taken together,
books like yours, and theirs, and other holistic practitioners such as Dr.
Andrew Weil, present a powerful case for making major correctives in our
diet and lifestyle in this country. For parents - well, for everyone, so
much comes down to our most practical, everyday choices, such as what we
choose to eat. And, indeed, all of you have included terrific recipes in
many of your books.
John, could you share the names of a few of your personal favorite
cookbooks? Did you have a particular "coach" who helped you learn to be a
A: My cooking is really embarrassingly simple. I love salads and steamed
vegetables. If it's wholesome and nutritious, I'm there.
Q. Are there any special messages you would to share with the readers of
VegFamily Magazine, at VegFamily.Com, who are vegan parents endeavoring to
raise vegan children?
A: Parenting is one of the most important tasks in the world. I say that,
even though I know that our society doesn't honor it nearly as much as it
should. Our children are how we bring our love into the world. It is by
the way we care for them that we express our gratitude for all that has made
our own lives possible.
I don't think that being vegan, and raising vegan children, is an end in
itself. To me, it is a means to a greater end, that of a peaceful and
loving world. This is the great work of our times.
In many other cultures, the nurturing of wise and healthy children is seen
as a spiritual act, a labor of eternal consequence, and parenting is
considered sacred. Children are held constantly, both in the arms of people
who love them, and in the heart of the wider community. Each child is
honored for his or her unique gifts and qualities, and enjoyed for who they
are. Each child is treasured, and helped to develop her or his wisdom and
talents. How painfully different it often is in our society, where
money-making is often made more important than our children's lives. When
children are raised by daycare and television, and fed by corporations like
McDonalds and Coca-Cola, we create generations of discontented, wounded, and
needy people. If we don't find a way to prevent the painful abandonment,
abuse and exploitation of children, we will spend the rest of our lives
building mental hospitals and prisons.
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
If children live with encouragement, they learn to be confident.
If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.
If children live with honesty and fairness, they learn about truth and
If children live with approval, they learn to find love in the world.
If you are a parent today, you have the opportunity to cherish your children
and raise them to be healthy, self-reliant, responsible, and joyous. In a
culture as alienated from natural wisdom as ours is, this is no small feat.
In fact, it may be the most revolutionary thing you can do. If you can
raise your children to know what they can trust in themselves, and to be
fully aware of the power of their own hearts, their whole lives will reflect
this gift you have given them. If you can listen to them, even when it's
hard and you may not want to hear what they have to say, then your children
will be able to express who they really are. If you can make it safe for
them to totally be themselves, then you can help them to carry forward their
lives' purpose with attention, honesty, and integrity. If you can give them
the freedom to be their wacky selves, all the while supporting them as they
grow and explore new ways of being, then they will not only live in this
world, they will change it, so that it comes to reflect humanity's highest
aspirations rather than its darkest fears.
I guess you can tell I really believe in children. I love them so much.
Someone once said that with each child that is born, there is proof that God
has not given up on the human race.
I believe that children come into this world endowed with new energies that
can correct the errors of past generations, and give a new breath of life to
the world. They are here for a purpose, and it is our privilege and joy to
do everything in our power to help them achieve the realization of the
dreams they bring to life.
Gandhi once said: "If we are to reach peace in this world and if we are to
carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children; and
if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won't have to struggle,
we won't have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love
to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are
covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously, the
whole world is hungering."
AN INTERVIEW WITH DEO ROBBINS
Q: Were you raised as a vegetarian, Deo? If not, would you mind sharing
the story of how you became vegetarian?
A: No, I was not raised a vegetarian. It was spam or bacon for breakfast,
bologna for lunch, and any variety of cow, pig or sheep parts for supper.
My parents were extremely overweight, suffering from many of the health
problems associated with a high meat-based diet. I feared becoming like
them, with no idea what I could do to prevent this.
When I met John in college at age 19, we fell totally in love. It was like
a light went on, illuminating all aspects of our lives and choices we were
making. Suddenly things we had done habitually for years no longer made
sense. We began to question many things, and to look for more
compassionate, sane, and sustainable ways to live. Becoming vegetarian was
the obvious choice once we began to learn how animals in the American food
machine were raised.
Q. Deo, you are part of an almost unfathomably engaged family - YES!
Earthsave, the Food Revolution website, the many speaking engagements, and
books, and, doubtless, countless other commitments. Could you share with
parents reading VegFamily magazine some of the ways your family is able to
enjoy quiet time together?
A: Quiet time together has become a rare and precious commodity since the
premature arrival of our twin grandsons River and Bodhi three plus years
ago. Although hard to come by sometimes, the four adults in our family
have made it a priority to spend several hours of quality time together once
or twice a week. We arrange for a friend to play with the boys during this
time, and meet in a quiet part of the house or outside in the woods near our
How we use our time varies from week to week, depending on how we are each
doing. Sometimes we might share foot massages, sing, talk about projects we
are working on, or share something that may be bothering us. Often we will
offer reflections, observations, questions or concerns about how River and
Bodhi are doing. Pooling our insights and creativity enables us to support
these little fellows, who had such a rough start, with the best we can give
Quiet time that includes the young ones is a little different. We might all
crowd onto the bed along with twenty or more stuffed animals, and tell
stories about what the animals like to eat, or about what the animals like
to eat, or even about what the animals like to eat! I guess you can tell
what River and Bodhi's favorite topic is these days.
Q. What are some of your favorite books, Deo, and music? Would you be
comfortable sharing some of what nurtures your own soul as you go about your
work and the nurturing of your family?
A: There have been many recording artists over the years, who have nurtured
my soul, but most important to me these days are Joanne Shenandoah and
Deva Premal and Miten. I love to dance, and some of Dusty Springfield and
Linda Ronstadt's old songs really get me going. And these days I seem to
spend a lot of time listening to Raffi.
Marianne Williamson's books have kept me flowing down the river in the
right direction, and the work and books of Jon Kabat-Zinn (Full Catastrophe
Living) have helped me keep my head above water. My enjoyment of Diet For
A New America, The Food Revolution and John's other books has been rich and
multi-faceted, from editing the first chapters to reading the freshly
printed copies. His work has illustrated for me the importance and meaning
in every choice we make.
Taking my work as grandmother very much to heart, I spend a lot of time
reading about how to make finger paint, play-do, and other profound things.
Playing with River and Bodhi nurtures my soul. There is a joyful childlike
spirit within me that rarely got to be expressed in my own childhood. When
we play we are together in the moment, present and exploring, silly and
Listening nurtures my soul. Silence nurtures my soul. Loving nurtures my
Q. Deo, when Ocean was a small child, what were some of the books you most
enjoyed reading to him? What were some of your favorite toys? Was it
difficult at all to find the kind of books and toys that were in harmony
with your values of compassion and awareness?
A: When Ocean was small, we lived in a little cabin on an island far away
from stores, televisions, and the lures of a consumptive society. He had
very few toys, and those he had were simple and well used. A set of wooden
blocks kept him busy balancing ever taller structures for hour upon happy
hour. Some worn and torn stuffed animals were his constant companions, and
lent themselves to endless dramatic fantasies. He enjoyed the Serendipity
books when he was very small, and as he grew older he loved to hear some our
favorites read aloud: Siddhartha, Initiation, The Wizard of Earth-Sea. We
recorded the stories we read him and gave him a portable tape deck which he
learned to operate. He spent many hours listening to story tapes while
playing with blocks, coloring, or hanging out with his stuffed animals.
Q. If you could close your eyes and imagine a handful of blessings for
families, what would they be?
A: What a beautiful invitation! I would want family members to be blessed
with gratitude and appreciation for one another, and the understanding that
taking time to pay attention to, love and support one another brings
infinite gifts. I would wish for them that they could share their fears and
challenges honestly with one another and become stronger and more capable
through their being together. I would want them to be blessed with lots of
play (not just the children!) dancing, singing and laughter. And I would
want each family to be blessed with the joy of service. To know that in
some way, big or small, they are contributing to the healing of our world.
AN INTERVIEW WITH OCEAN ROBBINS
Q. Ocean, one of the outstanding characteristics I've discerned in reading
about your organization, YES! (Youth for Environmental Sanity), and in
reading about your history of social action, is the love and energy that
seems to flow through your work. I'm humbled, too, by your wife and
partner Michele Bissonnette Robbins. Her life is also one of vibrant,
compassionate activism. Both of you were already working for a healthier,
more peaceful, more healthy world when you were children. Now you have twin
babies, River and Bodhi, and doubtless they themselves are already
galvanizing the world for the better.
Most of the readers of VegFamily Magazine are vegan parents, working to
raise thoughtful, healthy, joyful children in a largely non-vegan culture.
For these parents, choosing to be vegan is about choosing to live a
compassionate and healthy life in an integrated way that includes all people
and all beings. A hopeful life.
In its Youth Jams, conferences, camps, and other activities that nurture
young leaders, YES! seems to proclaim, exuberantly, that young people have
reason for hope - that they themselves are hope personified.
Ocean, could you share with VegFamily Magazine some of the aspects of being
raised as a vegan child that might have contributed to the nurturing of your
amazing spirit - and energy?
A: I was raised by parents that sought to see and affirm who I really am,
and to give me the support I needed to fulfill my purpose in this world.
They sang to me, loved me, appreciated me (vocally and frequently!) and also
were honest with me about their own prayers, commitments, and struggles.
They didn't try to pretend anything with me, and so I knew they were real,
and I learned a lot from them about what it takes to really show up with who
we are in this world. They've taught me a lot about courage, because they
are both people who have made a lot of choices for integrity and conscience,
whether or not circumstances supported them. A healthy and compassionate
diet was one of the many ways that my parents supported me growing up in
looking at my every life choice as an opportunity to demonstrate respect for
myself and all living beings.
Q. Ocean, I imagine I am not the first vegan parent who has read about
your family and wished your family might somehow magically appear to support
us when we are trying to cope patiently and tactfully with people who insist
we are "harming" our children or "going against nature" by being vegans.
These are often the same people who say they were be "too upset" to read
about slaughterhouses, factory farming, the hazards of genetic engineering,
the build-up of pesticides, herbicides, hormones and other hazardous
substances in the flesh and milk of factory farmed animals, the destruction
of habit due to ranching, etc. Our children tend to be very aware of the
ramifications of even their simplest choices, such as what to eat and what
Were there ever times for you, Ocean, as a child, when being vegan felt
uncomfortable or difficult? Were there ever times you felt it might be
easier to be less aware, less concerned, less personally involved with the
task of diminishing the suffering of those with whom we share the world?
A: There were times that it felt uncomfortable or difficult to live in a
world where people thought it was normal to eat the flesh of what I
considered to be tortured and slaughtered animals. Times when I hated to
see my friends turning their bodies into, as I used to call it to their
faces, "graveyards." And times when I would feel disgusted by the smell of
animal corpses in my best friends' lunch box. But I also felt it to be
uncomfortable and difficult that we live in a world with war, with racism,
and with nuclear weapons. I've always felt that it's part of the human
experience to recognize that we live in difficult times. I didn't ever feel
drawn towards going numb, or succumbing to the cultural trance of attempted
normalcy, as life was far to interesting, too meaningful, and too important
to be wasted on trying to fit in or have an "easy" time at the expense of my
own soul's purpose. Sure, I need some times when I'm not worrying about
what's wrong, but simply loving the beauty of life. When I'm body-surfing
in the ocean, or climbing a mountain, I might not be thinking about factory
farms, I might be marveling in awe at the beauty of life. But I've never
been drawn to intentionally doing things that are destructive to the Earth
or to other life forms - any more than I'm drawn to suicide. We're all
connected, and there's enough pain in this world already. With all the
blessings I've been given, complaining or giving up would be such a waste!
Q. Ocean, could you share some suggestions with vegan parents and
children to help them ease the inevitable conflicts that arise with people
who have been raised to see the world as fundamentally adversarial - species
against species, for example, or country against country, or religion
A: Those of us who hold a vision of a thriving, just and sustainable world
need to do a lot of work to avoid falling into the same patterns we seek to
change in the world. The work isn't just "out there," because the line
between good and evil runs across the landscape of every human heart.
Gandhi said that he had no hatred for the British, but he hated the British
system of governance that oppressed his people, just as he hated the caste
system even while loving the Hindu people. We can aspire to follow his
example -- recognizing what vigilance it can take to stand for something
with all our hearts, and also be willing to treat everyone else with respect
for their humanity.
I think children have a natural sense of joy, cooperation, and service that
needs to be nurtured. My wife, Michele, and I have identical twin boys,
River and Bodhi, who are 3 1/2 years old. River and Bodhi LOVE to help out.
It is so much fun to find creative ways that they can help us clean up,
pick berries, or even get their own shoes when it's time to go outside. So
I think that children need to be respected, to be honored, and to have the
opportunity to give, and then they will naturally tend to be respectful, to
be honoring, and to look for opportunities to contribute. That doesn't mean
there aren't hard places along the way. A parent cannot control how their
children evolve or the nature of their children's destiny. But parents can
love, nurture, support their children, and doing so will make an enormous
difference to how our children relate to the world around them.
Q. Ocean, what are some of your most beloved books and music? Could you
share some of the books and music you look forward to sharing with River and
Bodhi? Could you share some of the foods you loved most as a child?
A: I love my dad's books! And I enjoy a lot of music. We love sharing
with our children the music at www.putumayo.com. It's lively,
multi-cultural, and put out by wonderful people. And our boys aren't quite
old enough for them yet, but we're excited to share the books at
www.veronicalanebooks.com with them (those books are for ages 4-10).
Growing up, I also enjoyed the Serendipity books, and I'm sure we'll share
them with our children.
My parents started me off eating simple, unprocessed foods, with no sugar
and little salt, so my taste buds were used to that. So even relatively
simple foods can taste gourmet to me. Children eat when they're hungry, but
if taste buds become jaded early, then nothing tastes as good as chocolate
cake or French fries, and children may lose appetite for simple things. So
I think its important to feed children simple and natural foods pretty-well
exclusively for the formative early years, and then to branch out a bit as
they move into the world. A baseline is established in that way. At least
in my case, I still love rice, vegetables, oatmeal, or salad. And now, I
also love cooking stir fries, tacos, lasagna, muffins, and so many other
things. The world of food is so varied - it's great!