Review: Vegan Life magazine

I picked up this super snazzy magazine in WH Smith yesterday. I know that WHS stock every magazine known to humankind so I was pretty confident it would be there. It’s a very pleasing shape and texture, as magazines go, and is apparently issue 11. What on earth – did I really miss issues 1-10? Considering the amount of time I spend on social media this seemed unlikely but apparently it’s true. I am thoroughly ashamed!

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Because my omnivorousness is quite far behind me, these days it’s really difficult for me to look at a magazine cover like this and wonder “what would an omnivore think?”. i.e. Is this magazine likely to be idly picked up by a meat eater or vegetarian, and convert them? Or does this publication pretty much cater for the proverbially converted? I think that I might’ve put a big ol’ slice of cake on the cover rather than a chia pudding, but that’s entirely my own prejudice because I can’t help thinking that chia pudding looks like frogspawn…..Really, the only vaguely serious beef I had with this issue was the piece on vaccination; I feel like a lot of potential readers/vegans might read this headline and think “holy flip, not only is their diet extreme, they’re anti-vaxxers too” which, of course, isn’t necessarily the case. But more on that anon!

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I really liked the magazine on the overall and I think I’ll take advantage of the subscription offer. I feel like anyone who doesn’t spend almost every waking moment frequenting vegan social media (not me) would probably benefit a lot from some of the features. Here are some of my thoughts, more coherently gathered:

  • I thought that FGV‘s advice page was pretty solid in this issue. His responses were measured and sensible, and they’ve chosen issues that most vegans will experience at some point, which is great for readers.
  • The ‘What’s New‘ section was fantastic; it’s hard to keep up with new vegan products, and The Vegan Society tend only to promote items with their own trademark. New products seem to pop up super often these days so it’s nice to have some info about what’s in the pipeline or newly available!
  • The piece on vegan beers was suuuuuuuuuuuper duper. I would love a regular vegan booze section actually, perhaps focusing on a particular retailer, type of drink, etc, etc. Particularly those items not necessarily labelled vegan. (If this is already A Thing, I bow my head in ignorant shame.)
  • I liked the idea of the vegan myths section. This issue focussed on whether we humans need dairy products to maintain strong bones. This piece would’ve been greatly improved by citing its sources; links to peer-reviewed journal articles or studies would greatly add to its credibility, and since we vegans often seem to viewed as ‘incredible‘ this would help tremendously.
  • I really loved the focus on polenta in this issue! I think that taking some time to look at a cheap, staple item is a brilliant idea. The focus can often be on fancy new innovative ingredients and recipes, but going over what we can do with the basic foodstuffs in our cupboard is really handy.
  • The section on making the most of your veg box was a similarly super idea! I definitely suffer from the Veg Box Fatigue sometimes, particularly during the colder months, so any inspiration I can get is helpful.
  • Obviously I think that my guide for new vegans is the best and most definitive guide ever, but actually, I think that Vegan Life did a pretty great job on theirs too, and well timed for the New Year 🙂
  • I enjoyed the grooming section; I don’t know if this is a regular feature, but actually I would welcome more features about vegan-friendly products in general. While food is often the focus of vegan news, some more information about everything else we consume would be great. How about a ‘new or noteworthy’ section for, as well as grooming, household products, shoes, fashion, etc? Yas please!
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Moving onto my only beef, which is the piece about whether vegan parents should vaccinate their children…. I feel that this is probably a very thorny issue indeed to choose to present from a vegan point of view. Although the article presents ‘both sides’ of the debate, the ‘no’ argument is predictably very anecdotal, and the ‘yes’ argument a little low key. There isn’t any mention of built-up immunity to devastatingly pervasive and awful diseases, or the fact that we are incredibly lucky to even be in a position where we can choose to refuse, and I feel that including the autism ‘study’ at all is irresponsible where it has since been entirely refuted (not only this, but I have issues with an argument that essentially boils down to ‘autism is worse than death from a horrible disease‘).

There are other ways to responsibly approach the ‘non vegan medicines‘ issue without dipping a toe into a debate that’s highly complex and emotional even without considering the ethical consequences of using animals in testing or producing vaccines…….. I feel it would have been better to approach this more generally, which would have been a brilliant opportunity to highlight the work of the Dr Hadwen Trust as well.

I would love to see a little more diversity in this magazine! For example, just a week or so the fantastic Black Vegans Rock project launched, and it would have been really great to feature such an excellent initiative. Obvs, some think-pieces about how veganism weaves into a lot of other social justice issues today would be brilliant, and there are some excellent speakers and scholars out there to choose from.

Some focus on more grass-roots stuff would be good too! Community ventures, zine makers, Etsy crafters….. There are some really amazing things happening out there and tapping into that could be beneficial for everyone.

I also wondered where on earth the cookbook (or other book) reviews were?! How wonderful would it have been to see a feature on the new Taco Cleanse book that everyone is talking about? An opportunity missed, I feel!

There is a lot of content that I haven’t even mentioned here -there are some great looking recipes- and on the whole I think the magazine is pretty super. Sure, the novelty value is strong since we don’t have a whole lot of choice here in the UK, but I’d definitely recommend checking this out regardless!  

This publication fully embraces veganism as a lifestyle and in that sense is top notch. I’m looking forward to seeing what other content there’ll be in the future 🙂


For veganism, dog pictures and life ramblings, giz a follow…

Woodcut of leaping deer.

YASSS!

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Ahoy, hello! My name is Jenny. I am a thirty-something human female from Manchester in the north of England. I enjoy rainy days and sad songs, custard donuts and salt & pepper chips and beer, lentil dhal and fried okra, X-Files and Twin Peaks, fierce fat heroines and mental health advocates, dogs and cats and otters and a very special beirdo. To paraphrase Sylvia Plath: "I blog because there is a voice within me that insists on writing lots of ridiculous chuff".

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I love Vegan Life, and every month I eagerly turn to the debate. In the past there have been things like: should vegans buy second-hand leather? should we eat honey? But this one was so out of place. I thought the anti-vaccination argument was a bit of a joke because it even admitted that the study it was based on was completely wrong. I definitely don’t think it was the place for such a debate.

    Also, I agree about the frogspawn on the cover!

    1. Eeeesh, I heard about the ‘is honey vegan’ piece not long ago! I can understand the presence of those pieces in a way, though I would prefer them to call it something like “why vegans don’t eat honey”!

      Ha I’m glad I’m not the only one who think chia pudding looks like frogspawn 🙂

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