Q & A with Cara Livermore
Design & Content Editor of Chickpea Magazine
“We’re hoping to figure out the biggest gripes people have with going vegan and staying vegan and living life as a vegan, in a longer format than most magazines – not even like a magazine, more like a mini book. From the start, we’ve never considered ourselves a traditional magazine – we don’t publish news or products, and don’t have ads. So we’ve thought of ourselves as a mix of a cookbook and a coffee table book.”
Bob & Cara of Chickpea Magazine
Rochester, NY based Chickpea Magazine was founded by Cara Livermore, with boyfriend Bob Lawton working on sales and shipping since the beginning. Printed in Rochester as well as Vancouver, Canada, Chickpea’s first issue was published in the Fall of 2011. The aesthetically appealing quarterly magazine is guided by the seasons in terms of recipes and other content.
What is your role at Chickpea?
I work on pretty much everything there is to work on! I go through proposals, plan out issues, manage contributors, copyedit, photography, illustrate, letter, design, publish, and manage the blog, social media sites, and our website and shop.
Why was Chickpea founded? What inspired its establishment?
For so many reasons! We previously had a blog (called hipsterfood) that had gotten huge (over 250,000 followers) in a short year, where I wasn’t happy with the community aspect (on tumblr) but liked the work of very much. At the same time, I became obsessed with mainstream magazines, and found myself increasingly angry at them. Why did they all need to be saturated with ads, and all of their “features” be of over-hyped expensive products that were advertised earlier in the issue? Why did all vegan/vegetarian magazines have to be filled with supplement ads and over processed faux meats? Why do they only publish snippets of “helpful” “groundbreaking” information that often contradict each other? Why did they all have to have such jumbled, maximalist designs? So we utilized our big readership to get our first contributors and our first customers, and the magazine was born.
What themes does Chickpea cover?
We do a little bit of everything, but we mostly work in lifestyle tips, food, and personal stories. Just like our daily lives, we don’t just do one thing all day – our lives are filled with all different topics to touch on. So we try to cover as much as possible.
What are some of the challenges of running and sustaining a publication on veganism and related themes?
I think most of the challenges don’t have much to veganism at all, luckily. People are surprised to hear it, but there’s a huge community of people looking not just for more info about veganism, but for ways to make it a part of their lives in a meaningful way. Our biggest struggle is that staying independent means that business has to go slower and it’s a little harder, but our favorite aspect of Chickpea is that it’s ad-free, sponsor-free, and all our writers are independent.
Chickpea is both a print and digital publication, correct? What was the motivation behind offering both?
Yes, we have both digital and print editions of each issue. We love both equally but in different ways. We love the print issue because we love reading in print – the paper is amazing and it’s a great way to step away from screens which rule the rest of our days. It doesn’t require any battery life or internet connection, either! The digital version is really affordable and device-agnostic, so it’s really accessible to people that might not be able to get it in print. We also can include as many pages as we like in the digital version – each one has about 30-60 extra pages not found in print. Both have great advantages, so why not offer both?
Does Chickpea utilize social media for any specific reasons and if so, what social media platforms are preferred and why?
We love love love Instagram because we find that it’s so easy to inspire and engage a lot of people at once there. Even though we don’t have as many followers there yet as we do on Facebook, I always find myself going back to Instagram. We follow our readers and contributors, search through hashtags, and post all the time with behind the scenes and our daily eats. People tag us in photos of our issues and recipes they’ve made from them. It’s just fun and easy to connect there!
With rising interest in veganism, the landscape of vegan publications, print and digital is growing as well. Where do you see Chickpea within this landscape? What needs and desires does Chickpea satisfy for its readership?
Our commitment to our values and our unique, inspiring aesthetic definitely fills a niche for a certain type of person. Especially in the upcoming year, I think we’re fitting more into a lifestyle guide type of publication, more like Real Simple than Bon Appetit, and I couldn’t be happier about it. We’re hoping to figure out the biggest gripes people have with going vegan and staying vegan and living life as a vegan, in a longer format than most magazines – not even like a magazine, more like a mini book. From the start, we’ve never considered ourselves a traditional magazine – we don’t publish news or products, and don’t have ads. So we’ve thought of ourselves as a mix of a cookbook and a coffee table book. Since we come out quarterly and look like a magazine, we thought it’d be easiest to call ourselves that, though.
Covers provided by Chickpea Magazine
Questions & post by Annika Lundkvist
Article: Magazines about Veganism →