A vegan teacher from Nathan Hale School in Boston decided to make a rap music video to encourage children to eat more vegetables - and the result is brilliant.
We got in touch with him to learn more about him and his vegan lifestyle.
What inspired you to create the 'Eat veggies like a rabbit' song?
As a teacher, I did not see many of the children or adults in my school eating healthy. The children would often throw away their fruits and vegetables. So I wanted to create a song to make eating vegetables cool. Also I was fascinated by the variety of fruits and vegetables in a rabbit’s diet.
Who wrote the lyrics of the song? They are really clever and catchy!
I am the songwriter. My writer's name is A. Intisar Turner.
Tell us a bit about yourself, the name of your school, your role at the school?
I am a vegan. I teach first grade at the Nathan Hale School in Boston. I am also an author, writer, and poet.
How long have you been a vegan and what brought you to the lifestyle?
I have been vegan for over 3 years. My sister was diagnosed with colon-cancer and I wondered if diet contributed to her illness.
I stared reading books on health and vegan diets. I wanted to make the shift to a more healthy lifestyle but didn’t really know how. After educating myself, I decided to take the plunge. Before I became vegan, doctors would tell me to watch out for my blood pressure, as it was getting high. I also wore glasses for my vision for 20+ years, and I was gaining weight that I could not control.
After becoming vegan, I was told my blood pressure is fine, I no longer needed glasses, within 2 years of my vegan diet my doctor said I see 20/20 vision, and my weight is no longer a problem.
I attribute these changes to the change in my diet and from eating lots of raw fruits and veggies. So I wanted to share my new found happiness with others.
Do you know many vegans, and have you seen an increase in the lifestyle?
I am meeting more and more vegans. At first, it was a very odd and taboo lifestyle for my co-workers and my students.
Even my family was very apprehensive. Yet as my health increased, many of my family members started taking on a vegan lifestyle.
After doing the video, being vegan or eating veggies is no longer seen as a taboo in our school, and plates are definitely changing and becoming more greener, with time.
How important is it to educate children about the impact their diet has on the environment and their health?
It is very important. But it does not have to come as a lecture. Our school used a song.
Each teacher, parent, or friend can approach it different. As a teacher, I will often use healthy fruits and vegetables in my reading and math lessons, then I allow the children to eat the fruit as a snack.
Luckily, our first grade reading curriculum, written by Harvard School of Education, provides a social justice component which focuses on animal rights, farmer rights, and environmental impacts of factories and other manufactured goods. Though health is not a unit in the curriculum, it is easy to add within the existing themes on globalization.
You shot the music video at your local school, did you receive a lot of support to produce it?
The music video had great support because everyone was on board with the message. It was easy to get people to buy into the idea of eating more healthy. I believe deep down people wants to eat healthy.
Our principal, students, community centers, my family, and even our local police department helped out. A movie director, Allen Redwing, even bought into the idea. He said what sold him on this project was that I brought carrots to our first meeting.
By the end of the production, it started to become a heart-felt movement more than a video, even his kids were eating more fruits and vegetables. Post production, the Department of Food and Nutrition Services for Boston Public Schools shared the video with teachers district wide.
What advice do you have for parents who are trying to get their children to eat more fruit and vegetables, and even switch to the vegan/ plant-based diet?
Don’t give up! Make eating healthy cool again. Explore a variety of fruits you never seen or tasted before.
You will be surprised, there will be something your child will like. I don’t force my kids to be vegan. I just make healthy vegan food accessible and other junk food harder to get. I always keep a fresh fruit bowl on the table so they can easily grab a snack.
At meals, I try to keep their plates colorful, with lots of fresh fruits and veggies options. Also talk to them about why you are making the change to eat more healthy. Start a garden! Sing a song about it! With patience, they too will be eating veggies like a rabbit.
How can people get in touch with you and support the work you are doing?
Help us create an “Eat Veggies Like a Rabbit” Movement!
Like us on YouTube and share with your kids and school! Our Youtube link Also purchase our song on iTunes, it will help us get information to schools and help us create more cool videos. Check us out on iTunes.