The latest T.O.F.U. magazine is a pay-what-you-desire downloadable full-colour vegan magazine. I have an article Promoting Veganism in the latest issue, Spring 2011 (see the pic below) The creators, Ryan & Kira takes some time out to answer some of my questions.
Why did you start TOFU magazine and did you feel there was a void to fill?
Ryan: T.O.F.U. came up as the result of a gradual process. There were two cookbooks and a dining guide to Halifax, Nova Scotia before the magazine came to be. All three publications were successful in their own, small-scale way, and it seemed logical to do something more. At the time, my partner Claire and I thought a magazine was the next step. We were inspired by Herbivore magazine (based out of Portland, Oregon - RIP) and various vegan blogs, so we went for it.
While working out the details, it was decided that the magazine should be a platform for vegans everywhere to speak about something. We wanted to show the many facets of veganism, and we knew we could not do this through our own words.
Kira: I came onboard with T.O.F.U. in November of 2010, so I can't speak to the origins of the publication... But I do think that we've made some important changes since then that jive with everything Ryan just said about exposing the many facets of veganism. Since Issue 4 there's been a theme tied to every new release. Issue 4's focus was vegan parenting, Issue 5's was "spring cleaning," and Issue 6's will be problems within veganism - the things the movement itself needs to address in order to really move forward. We liked the idea of having something specific to talk about with every issue, in addition to the other elements of veganism. We just felt like there should be more to vegan publications than just recipes (though those are nice too). The move into more serious topics with this issue was also inspired by the idea that veganism is diverse, and that this diversity hasn't been reflected in our pages over the last few issues (even just in terms of what kinds of vegans there are: people who can't eat animal products due to allergies, health-based vegans, ethical vegans, environmental vegans, etc.). We're always moving towards inclusivity through diversity, which I think is something that sets T.O.F.U. Magazine apart from other offerings.
Why did you move from the print version to the download version?
Ryan: One of the major reasons for the move was simply convenience. I prefer to travel instead of staying in one spot, and having to print the magazine and then worry about distribution meant a need for a reliable print shop near me. Once I moved from Halifax nearly two years ago, I decided to go digital and avoid worrying about this. Along with that, the digital-only move has helped reduce our impact on the environment. It has also allowed us to move to a pay-what-you-want model, which has led to interesting results for sure.
What music do you listen to when compiling the magazine?
Ryan: Hmm, I think it depends on whether or not Kira and I are working together, or if we're working alone. A few that come to mind would be:
Kira & Ryan
NQ Arbuckle -
A Swedish mix cd my friend Cinthia made
Cursed Arrows (vegan members)
Forest City Lovers (vegan members)
Jonsi (vegan members)
Matthew Hornell and the Diamond Minds
Refused (vegan members)
Propagandhi (vegan members)
City and Colour
Rockets Red Glare
Fiona Apple (vegan?) Leigh-Chantelle loves Fiona Apple and believes she's still a vegan!
By Divine Right (vegan members)
Coeur de Pirate
Land of Talk
The Hush Sound
Do you think there’s room for other print magazines to exist in this technological era?
Ryan: I think there's room for other print magazines in any era. We will most likely always live in an age where alternative media needs to be produced and distributed, and I think there will always be a place for something that is handmade and printed. It requires less resources than electronic stuff, and that means more people have the ability to use it to express themselves. Sure, it may not end up in every newsstand that the New York Times sits, but if it can reach a group of people larger than those who made it, is that not a good thing?
Why did you first decide to become vegan?
Ryan: My decision to become a vegan was another gradual process. Meat was slowly making its way out of my diet for a variety of reasons, and by the time I met Claire I easily transitioned to a "domestic vegan". Eventually, I came to realize that my decision to continue to eat cheese and a few other vegetarian things was not consistent with how I felt about those industries or the work I was doing with the cookbooks and the dining guide. So, after eating far too many doritos on my own one night, I decided I had to take the next step. Since then, I've held to not eating anything I would not be able to bring to my own plate if I had the resources. I'm OK with the idea of growing carrots and pulling them out of the ground, but I've gone with family members on hunting trips as a kid, and I know I would not pull the trigger if I had to do so in order to put meat on my plate. So, carrots it is!
Kira: I went vegetarian when I was a child. It started with a general revulsion towards meat, and was solidified by my very firm belief that animals had feelings and should be treated as such. I was vegetarian for fifteen years before I went vegan, but I initially went vegan for "health" reasons (read: I gained weight). It didn't stick. I kept "cheating," like I would on any "diet." It wasn't until I started really paying attention to the way animals in the dairy and egg business suffered that I was able to kick the habit for good. Compassion, as it turns out, is a much better motivator than poor body image.
What do you think is the biggest misconception of vegans?
Ryan: That we're all jerks. If T.O.F.U. can do one thing while it's being published, I hope it's to change the perception of so many that vegans are preachy and angry folk who have no compassion for other human beings. Removing that perception is one of the biggest obstacles I think veganism has to overcome, but I think we're getting there. Slowly, but surely.
Kira: I'm with Ryan here. The defense rests!
Who inspires you?
Ryan: I'm inspired by anyone who is willing to get up in the morning and dedicate their time to something that makes someone else happy. I'm inspired by those who are determined to make the world a better place before they leave it. They don't have to be vegan, and they don't have to necessarily agree with my views, they just have to have their heart in the right place.
Kira: Everybody says their mother, right? So, yes, my mother, but also my grandmother - she was one of the first women veterinarians in Canada, and she did it to piss off her mother (who thought she should become a secretary to find a husband). My grandma's pretty bad-ass. She also taught me to feel compassion for non-human animals, and to look at pets as true members of the household, instead of "just animals." She's an amazing woman. I'm really proud to have passed her name onto my daughter. I hope I can teach my daughter to have the same sort of respect for life that my grandmother gave me.
What’s coming up next for you?
Ryan: Next… I'm not sure. We're working on a new issue for August, which will coincide with the Vida Vegan Conference in Portland, Oregon. Outside of that, it's all up in the air. The summer months usually have me wishing to be out on the road, but the weather here has been far from summery lately, which I think has kept me still. I'd like to attend more veg-related conferences and festivals, but we'll see how Vida goes. I may be terrible at it!
Kira: I'm going to continue working with Ryan on T.O.F.U., but I also have a thesis to finish up. Beyond that: more time in the sun with my daughter, and more rainy afternoons snuggling with my cat! You don't need much to lead a happy life, hey?
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- Published: 20 July 2011
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