Strange animal rights propaganda, now with recipes!
Jan 10, 2000
Pros: Would make an excellent vegan magazine
Cons: Purports to be vegetarian, not vegan
I've read quite a few issues of Vegetarian Journal, and I don't 'get' it. I e-mailed the people responsible, the 'Vegetarian Resource Group,' and inquired. Turns out it's not me -- they don't 'get' it. The exchange went something like this:
Kmennie: Your magazine is a nice one, but why is it called the Vegetarian Journal when the focus is exclusively on veganism and animal rights? (Note: the over reads "Vegetarian Journal/Health Ecology Ethics") Vegetarian Resource Group: <A lot of unintelligble stuff about "lifestyle."> K: Yes, I see, but by being on the radical end of the spectrum yet posing as "vegetarian," you're alienating mainstream vegetarians, and completely alienating the non-vegetarian mainstream. That doesn't seem to be in line with your stated goals. VRG: <Some more incoherent stuff about how militant veganism is cool.> K: Shouldn't you at least change your name to "Vegan Journal" and "Vegan Resource Group," since you almost openly disdain vegetarians? VRG: <Something truly bizarre about how they appreciated that I was vegetarian.>
Vegetarian Journal desperately needs a little more contact with the outside world. As a vegan-slash-animal-rights magazine, it's great. As for its being anything remotely to do with vegetarianism -- not eating meat -- it fails miserably. If you are a vegetarian, you have things like Vegetarian Journal to thank when people express surprise that you take cream in your coffee and like cheese omelettes just fine, thank you.
As best as I can tell, the recipes are diverse -- regional cuisine features are frequent -- and presumably tasty. They are entirely vegan; recipes will call not for whipped cream but for "prepared vegan whipped topping." (Why, oh why, don't they call themselves "Vegan Journal"? Mail email@example.com and ask.) They are also shockingly healthy; there is nary a deep-fry anywhere.
They do rival Vegetarian Times to a degree in announcing/reviewing new products of interest to vegans, I mean, vegetarians. Vegan cookbooks (and related publications) are more plentiful than you might expect, and these too are dutifully reviewed by the Journal.
After this, it disintegrates into extremes that even strict vegans of my acquaintance would have trouble taking seriously. Contrary to popular belief, many vegetarians and vegans have little interest in proselytizing and converting people; they may wish fewer people ate meat, but half the time that's just because they want more consumer clout. The hard-core vegan whose diet encompasses his lifestyle spends his spare time reviewing "101 Dalmatians" from a vegan standpoint. (There are shades of bad ivory tower theory here; if you went to any university English or similar arts class, "vegan film theory" will have you cringing already.) Most of the rest of the articles seem to involve somebody having stomped around inspecting this or that for 'purity,' to the point of absurdity -- one helpful section tells me that, among other things, I can have French fries and peanuts at major league ballparks.
"We have noted the menu items that vegetarians and vegans may be unaware are being served at the ballparks." (Yes, the editing leaves something to be desired.) In translation: "Here is a useless filler article." I mean, I am not a big baseball fan, but I did manage to figure out that the things being flung around were peanuts, not slabs of raw steak.
Between the Journal's inexplicably militant stance and other dodgy areas, like publishing only letters of praise in the letters section and frequently using what sound like verbatim 'press releases' to 'review' vegan products, there is a bit of a credibility problem. You might want to double-check some of the information. It seems as though a bit of selective editing has been applied to some of the published research, and while there are disclaimers here and there, many do not go far enough -- a typical example: "Editor's note: Soymilk[sic] should never be used to replace infant formula or breast milk in children under 1 year of age." Last I looked, everyone from Dr Spock on down has recommended full-fat milk up until age two at the youngest.
I wish I could say nicer things about this magazine, but the duplicity makes it difficult, and the Journal seems to go out of its way to alienate everyone but that very small segment of the population that eats and lives 'ethically.' Major changes are needed before this magazine can even think of being useful to the average vegetarian -- everything from more sophisticated editing to greater credibility.
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