As soon as we received Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale in the mail, my kids were cuddled up next to me for the story.
Henrik Drescher’s marvelously illustrated picture book describes the life of imaginary “pudges” farmed and butchered for human consumption. It’s a delightful feat of straddling the line between reality and fantasy.
Drescher’s drawings show human-faced, pig-bodied pudges confined in a barn filled with row after row of narrow pens. With no space to turn around, the only things the pudges can move freely are their tail-like noses.
The author’s words capture their plight simply and straightforwardly:
“While they were still young, they were trucked off to the meat factory, where they were processed into TV dinners, microwave sausage links, and other greasy food products. Every part of the pudge was used. Even the squeal, which was canned and installed in car alarms and foghorns.”
Drescher underscores the animal’s misery by depicting the one day each year Farmer Jake allows them outside while the barn is cleaned:
“… the pudges were allowed to play in the yard, eating fresh clover, daffodils and cobwebs (pudges adore cobwebs). They dreamed of life on the other side of the tall fence, a place where no pudge’s knuckle had ever trod.”
That is, until the pudge named Hubert escapes, befriends the wild animals he meets outside and grows to mythic stature. All the story’s loose ends are transformed from tragic to triumphant — and Hubert becomes the hero that all vegans dream of becoming.
My kids ranked Hubert the Pudge with their favorite vegan-themed picture books by Ruby Roth. See my reviews of her work here!