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Meet Inspirational Vegan Children’s Book Author Heather Leughmyer

Meet Inspirational Vegan Children’s Book Author Heather Leughmyer

Vegan children's book author Heather Leughmyer

For vegan children’s book author and activist Heather Leughmyer, the stories she brings to life are more than just works of fiction. They’re ways to reach an audience that’s often impressionable and open to the message of kindness and compassion for all beings.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, March 29, 2024 — Author and poet Heather Leughmyer, who holds a degree in english writing and linguistics, has had a 20-year career in the vegan publishing industry. Her series of thematic books, Kindness to Animals, reflects her values and interest in animal rights and rescue.

Around 2003, she started a rat rescue in her area and the work proved to be a source of inspiration on several levels.

“I was working full-time, running my rescue,” she said. “I think it was right around that time that I started playing with the idea of writing a children’s book about rats. It might have been a year or two later that I got these ideas (for the books). I just remember writing a story about rats, and I sent it to a friend of mine. She was like, ‘Oh, you should self-publish.’ That’s when I wrote my first story.”

From Concept to Reality

Vegan children's books series by Heather Leughmyer
Indiana-based Heather Leughmyer
is the proud author of a vegan children’s book series

Continuing on that path, Leughmyer connected with an illustrator, April Pedersen. The two teamed up to produce several stories that are now available through online outlets such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Leughmyer, who’s based in Indiana, says they have an excellent working relationship. Pedersen’s whimsical illustrations bring the stories — that contain important messages about the relationship between animals and humans — to life. For instance, “Adopting Adele” introduces readers to a rat who desperately longs to be adopted. “Brave Benny,” a bedtime story for ages four and up, teaches kids the importance of trying new things.

Leughmyer says she develops the characters first and then the plot follows. The books are written in rhyme to appeal to young ears. A poet at heart, she occasionally still writes prose, which serves as the creative foundation for her writing.

“When I was going through college, I took creative writing,” she said. “My niche was short stories and poetry. (As time went on), I found that people are more drawn to (writing) that rhymes, I think..it’s because it’s song-like. People are drawn to music. The average person probably likes reading poems better than trying to figure out a deep, dark meaning.”

Teaching Kindness

Vegan author Heather Leughmyer
Heather Leughmyer has authored several children’s books

As for the meaning, Leughmyer says the themes are crystal clear. Above all, the books teach kids that animals matter and humans must treat them with respect. Over the years, Leughmyer has read her stories at schools, public library events and book signings. She hopes the themes will resonate with young minds and inspire them to become change agents.

Advocacy organization PETA has recognized this potential, as evidenced by its humane education division, TeachKind. One program, Empathy Now, provides elementary schools with free materials that teach compassion for all sentient beings. The idea is that children who develop empathy for animals become compassionate toward all kinds and recognize that their actions or inactions have consequences for other life and the planet.

That was the case for Leughmyer, who became an animal activist as a child. She started recusing animals at a young age and forged deep bonds with them. Once she hit high school and college, this grassroots work led her to research animal cruelty. During those formative years, she encountered some uncomfortable truths about animal exploitation. She could no longer be complicit, even if indirectly, in the harming of animals.

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A Passion Ignited

That was the turning point and motivation for adopting a vegan lifestyle and advocating for those without a voice.

“By that time, I was in college and buying my food with my own money. I decided I wasn’t going to support (animal cruelty),” she said. “So, I immediately stopped eating meat and went vegan five years later. It’s been over 20 years, and I’ve never looked back.”

But Leughmyer didn’t stop there. She formed an animal rights group and began advocating for all animals. She attended local events and set up information tables. She distributed informational material at nearby colleges while coordinating awareness walks for the cause of farmed animals. In short, she had found her calling.

Learn more about Leughmyer’s books on her Facebook page and explore her selections via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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