Q & A with Emma Letessier
Editor of Barefoot Vegan Magazine
“Every vegan publication is doing great work to support the vegan movement. I know that not all vegans are interested in spirituality – some people think it’s a lot of rubbish; however, interest in both veganism and spirituality are increasing and I want Barefoot Vegan to demonstrate how those two things play out in a practical way in everyday life.”
Barefoot Vegan Magazine is a globally read, bimonthly digital publication founded by Emma Letessier. A broad range of themes connecting with veganism are covered, with a specific emphasis on spirituality and holistic wellbeing, conservation, self-sufficiency and societal change.
Where was Barefoot Vegan founded?
It was founded in my spare room in Bracknell, England.
Where is Barefoot Vegan currently based?
I now work from home in a small village in the East of France, but we are moving next year to a small farm of six hectares in the South West of France, where we will convert an old farm house into an eco-house, incorporate into the veganic permaculture farm a small animal sanctuary, and have space for people who wish to come and stay to learn about a low-impact, vegan, permaculture lifestyle. We will also try and give away as much produce as possible to people who need it in the region and once we’re able to, we will open a small farm shop and sell fruit and veges at local farmers markets to help sustain the running of the animal sanctuary and Barefoot Vegan magazine.
When was Barefoot Vegan founded? When was the first issue?
The idea to start the magazine came to me during a conversation with my husband in December 2014. I spent the next couple of months researching how to create a digital magazine, fretted about design and the fact that I couldn’t afford a designer, put together a wish list of interview subjects, did the website, social media platforms etc. The first issue went live on the 1st April 2015!
Why was Barefoot Vegan founded? What inspired its establishment?
I was looking for a way to best utilise my skills as a journalist and PR professional to help raise awareness of the issues I cared about. Sure, I could have worked as a freelance writer for other publications, but to be perfectly honest I have an agenda and I wanted to be able to write about and include content on the things that I truly believe in.
What themes does Barefoot Vegan cover?
Barefoot Vegan covers everything that other vegan publications include but there is a strong emphasis on spirituality and holistic wellbeing, conservation, self-sufficiency and societal change. I really want the magazine to inspire people to take charge and make positive, impactful change in their own lives and their communities. That’s why I try to find interview subjects that talk about intersectional veganism and promote things like permaculture, gift-economies and autonomous communities.
As a digital publication, Barefoot Vegan is more readily available to readers around the globe. How has this been for reception and consumption of the magazine? In your own country, do you see a connection between a growing vegan movement and a rise of publications about veganism?
Being digital means that the magazine has readers literally from all across the world. I try to use Barefoot Vegan magazine as a platform to showcase the amazing work that other people are doing to create a better world. Being digital and having a global readership hopefully allows people to be inspired and empowered by the efforts that every day, normal people are doing. It’s good to know that one person can make a difference. I’m originally from New Zealand, but have spent the past decade living mostly in the United Kingdom and now we are in France. In all of these countries there is most definitely a growing vegan movement and new and established vegan publications, or publications that include vegan content. For me, this is a really encouraging sign of change and I love reading and supporting other vegan publications.
Does Barefoot Vegan utilize social media for any specific reasons and if so, what social media platforms are preferred and why?
Yes, I use Facebook, Twitter and I used to use Instagram but I don’t have a phone anymore so this platform has been sadly neglected. Social media is a great way to signpost people to the magazine and what’s going on with Barefoot Vegan but I also use it to share information with the community to raise awareness about issues, new studies, inspirational stories and just fun stuff. I also share posts from other vegan media. I don’t have a lot of time to create additional web content to post on social media so I know social media would be helpful in boosting traffic to the website but I just don’t have the time to do it. I also use social media to network and find leads for stories for the magazine.
What are some of the challenges of running and sustaining a publication on veganism and related themes?
I think this would vary from publication. Personally, one of the greatest challenges is financial. Besides having contributing writers, I don’t have a team of people working on Barefoot Vegan. I’m the editor, the designer, the marketing person, website designer etc. It was really important for me to be able to offer the magazine as a free subscription but there are still costs associated with producing a digital magazine. At the moment, my husband funds the magazine but I hope that eventually, I’ll be able to make money through advertising and donations. The financial constraints also mean that I can’t afford to develop the online offering by using things like a magazine App or a better online viewing platform which would allow for a better reader experience and the ability to integrate things like photo galleries, videos, audio etc. into the magazine. But I try to do the best I can with the resources I have.
The second challenge I find is more of a mental-health one. I spend a lot of time researching topics for the magazine and keeping abreast of issues. Sometimes this means witnessing some pretty horrific crimes against animals and humans. So much of my time is spent working on the magazine that I have to be disciplined to create balance and look after myself and do things for my own wellbeing as well.
With rising interest in veganism, the landscape of vegan publications, print and digital is growing as well. Where do you see Barefoot Vegan within this landscape? What needs and desires does Barefoot Vegan satisfy for its readership?
Every vegan publication is doing great work to support the vegan movement. I know that not all vegans are interested in spirituality – some people think it’s a lot of rubbish; however, interest in both veganism and spirituality are increasing and I want Barefoot Vegan to demonstrate how those two things play out in a practical way in everyday life. How can we live in a way that supports our beliefs? What does it really mean to be compassionate? How can we extend this compassion to ourselves, other people, the animals and Mother Earth? Refraining from using animals as food, entertainment and for other products is just one part of the solution, and I’m interested in a better world for all of us – animals, humans and nature. That’s what Barefoot Vegan has to offer its readership.
Covers provided by Barefoot Vegan
Questions & post by Annika Lundkvist
Article: Magazines about Veganism →