Vegan Mags: VH&F VS VN

To the best of my knowledge, there are 2 major vegan magazines, available at Whole Foods and some newsstands, Vegan Health & Fitness (VHF) and VegNews (VN); I am going to do a little comparison of the two.

Disclaimers: I used to be a subscriber to VegNews, so I’m basing my knowledge of VegNews on the memory of the many issues I read some years back (so some of the items I mention may have changed); I started reading Vegan Health & Fitness more recently (last year), so the comparison may be a bit unbalanced.  Also, I’m considering only print content, not online content.

Appeal

  • VN has a relatively wide appeal, to many with an interest in vegan, vegetarian or “veg” lifestyle, even those with no interest in health.
    Content spans recipes, food product reviews, nutrition, travel tips, animal news, celebrity news, veg weddings/relationships, humor and occasional social issues, all with a “veg” spin.
    Target audience seems to be primarily white, well-to-do vegetarians and vegans with disposable income (e.g., to travel).
  • VHF has a relatively narrow appeal, to those with an interest in physical fitness [exercise], health and veganism.
    Content is mainly interviews with and articles on health-conscious vegans and fitness professionals, along with some recipes, nutrition info and occasional other tidbits.
    Target audience seems to be health-conscious vegans of all backgrounds, but primarily those in “prime” of life (20s-40s).

Photos

  • VN is filled with stock photos and relatively few original photos (occasionally for profile articles). As you may recall, there was something of a scandal when it was revealed that VegNews used original or altered stock photos of animal products for their food pictures (for recipes and product reviews).  People-wise, it shows primarily white well-to-do folks who are heteronormative. Rarely did I see any people of color or anyone with tattoos or alternative looks (again, this was years ago, so hopefully this has changed).
  • VHF is filled with photos of real people, original photos, not stock photos.  People featured are primarily fit and in athletic gear, but there is good representation of different types of people (mostly white, but some diversity of color and plenty of tattoos and non-tattooed folks).  There are occasionally pictured of food or equipment which may be stock, but often the recipes show photos of the food/equipment with the recipe provider, so not stock.Note: in both cases above, I am excluding all advertisements from consideration.  Although VHF features some “punk” type people; it does not feature outlier fashion (e.g., goths or vegan drag queens) or openly queer folks; VHF has rarely featured vegan queers, but s usually very mainstream.

Title

  • VegNews is a deliberately vague and wide-appealing title. Even though it is vegan focused, it presents itself as “veg” friendly, which may help to sell issues, but I think undercuts the vegan message (avoiding the controversial word).
  • Vegan Health & Fitness is exactly what the title implies; no ambiguity.

Veganocity

  • VN has a vegan focus, but features a wide variety of animal news, which includes items which pertain more to lacto-ovo vegetarians (e.g., updates on cage-free eggs) than vegans. It also features occasional articles about or by vegetarian folks and strongly implies that vegetarians and vegans are closely related (which I disagree with).
  • VHF is pretty much straight-up vegan. I’ve not yet seen any non-vegan people or news featured. Of course, the focus is primarily exercise and nutrition, so there’s an absence of the kind of news which might be problematic for a strictly vegan ethos.

Conclusions

  • VegNews is a good, well-rounded magazine for new vegans, and those who are vegetarian or interested in vegetarianism or veganism. However, the lack of diversity may be frustrating to those outside the mainstream (especially queer folk with the frequent heteronormative relationship info or non-whites with the lack of POC), to those who embrace intersectionality (because VN never ties animal exploitation to other forms of exploitation). For anyone who is an experienced & critical thinking vegan or who has studied animal rights philosophy, VN will likely be frustrating for its lack of stridency on the vegan issue.
  • Vegan Health & Fitness is a great lifestyle magazine for anyone interested in health and fitness , especially but not only vegans.  It is inspiring to learn about such energetic and accomplished vegans.  VHF features some diversity in individuals, but may be of limited interest for those more interested in other aspects of veganism, such as animal rights philosophy, news, travel or vegan junk food.
  • Both magazines offer interesting articles about, by and for vegans, but I prefer the transparency, originality and narrow focus of Vegan Health & Fitness – it’s a great read on the exercise bike!   And I get my news from the Our Hen House podcast. 😉

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