Tina Newman is the creator of two children’s picture books with a vegan message. Her sensitively written stories aim to encourage children to take a stand and empower them to be compassionate and kind. “Vivi the Supervegan” and “Vivi and the Planet Protector” are picture books for young children aged three to eight years old. The superhero message, along with the beautiful illustrations, make the stories compelling and inspiring.
Tina, a mum of two young vegan girls, hopes that children will understand the power of their choices and inspire others to make changes through her stories.
Can you share with us something about each of the books that isn’t in the excerpt?
I have given both the protagonists superpowers based on things that I really see happening when people are vegan. For instance, Vivi’s main power, ‘speculo’ is the ability to spark compassion in others and reflect the truth back at people when they are around her. I based this on the fact that when people are around vegans, it can make them feel uncomfortable as it makes them look at themselves and confront their own lifestyle choices.
The books are based on “Vivi”, the vegan superhero. Why did you decide to embrace a female character as the protagonist?
The Mirabelle family is loosely based on my family as we have two young daughters. I feel that superheroes are generally portrayed as male characters, so I wanted to break the mould with my stories and make the protagonist a female superhero. If you have read the first book, you will know that Vivi’s sister Lily is born at the end and will play a major role in future books. So hopefully, there will be no arguments between my girls as to who the Supervegan is!
What part of the books was the most fun to write?
Veganism is obviously quite a difficult topic to address in a children’s book; therefore, I really wanted to try and get the balance right. I wanted to incorporate the elements of fun, mischief, and magic that children adore in books but still have the vegan message running throughout the story. So I would definitely say that I found the mischievous scenes where Vivi uses her magical powers on characters such as Mr Squigglesworth, her headteacher in the first book, and the ‘humanhogs’ in the second book the most fun parts to write.
During the writing process, did you think of how non-vegan children will relate and engage with your stories?
Definitely. My hope when writing my books is that they will empower children who are already vegan but also inspire non-vegan children. It was very important for me to get the balance right between getting the truth in there but also making sure that the stories would be appealing and enjoyable for everyone who reads them, regardless of age, lifestyle, etc. I didn’t want to put anything graphic in my books or do any scaremongering. I wanted to give just enough information to make children think and ask questions if they wanted to.
What inspired you to start writing?
I went vegan three years ago in 2017, and when I did, I instantly looked for vegan-friendly children’s books. I realised very quickly that there is a real lack of vegan children’s storybooks out there, so I decided to write my own!
Do you see “Vivi” ever evolve into a character for older children’s books?
Possibly! I do have lots of ideas of how Vivi could evolve!!
What does it mean for you to be an ambassador for the Animal Justice Project?
I felt so honoured when I was approached by the Animal Justice Project to become an ambassador for them. They do such an amazing work, and I absolutely love what they stand for, so it means a lot to be able to support their organisation.
Can you tell us about your work with the Animal Justice Project charity, and how does this initiative help to raise awareness about the vegan lifestyle?
It is a relatively new thing for me. I mean, to be fair, I only released my first book last August in 2019 so all of this is new to me, really!
However, I feel that it is helping to raise awareness in so many different ways. By supporting their work and sharing their campaigns, more people can find out about the Animal Justice Project and hopefully start to support their work themselves.
We have also joined up to offer a ‘Vivi into schools‘ scheme where we ask people to contact us with their school’s details if they are open to veganism. For every two books bought, we donate a ‘Vivi the Supervegan’ to a school from the list. This is another way that the initiative helps raise awareness about veganism with future generations and in school settings.
What are your plans for “Vivi the Supervegan” book series and for yourself as an author and animal activist?
I am going to keep writing. I have the next couple of story ideas in my head already but haven’t started writing yet, so I will be concentrating on getting them published. One thing I am also looking at is turning Vivi into an animated TV series!
Once again, there isn’t really anything like that out there at the moment, and I think it would be fantastic for children if they could have a vegan children’s series to watch.
I will continue to advocate for animal rights on my various social media platforms and daily life, from wearing vegan clothing on the school run to having chats with family and friends. I don’t think that will ever stop! 🙂
You can find more about Tina and her books on vivithesupervegan website.
Email Tina: info @ vivithesupervegan .co .uk or connect with her on Instagram