“…there are plenty of amazing people talking about intersectional issues in various ways, both within and outside of the vegan community, but my hope is that T.O.F.U. can showcase their voices and concerns in a way that appeals to people who wouldn’t normally pick-up a zine, attend a rally, or join a group that tackles issues outside of the person’s usual bubble.”
Q & A with Ryan Patey
Editor & Co- Founder of T.O.F.U. Magazine
Founded in 2007 and released in Spring that year, Canadian based T.O.F.U. Magazine has a primary focus on various forms of oppression related to veganism. Published digitally since its inception, T.O.F.U. magazine’s most recent (tenth) issue was released in print as well, thanks to the support of a Kickstarter campaign. A unique publication in the landscape of magazines about veganism, T.O.F.U. magazine is active across social media platforms, moving towards print as well as digital expansion.
Why was T.O.F.U. Magazine founded? What inspired its establishment?
We founded T.O.F.U. based on the success of two previous cookbooks and a dining guide to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The first cookbook had been created to raise money for an outdoor festival that I was organizing in the city to protest the state of the all-ages music scene, and we simply kept publishing things since people were interested.
From there, it seemed appropriate to do something bigger, and a magazine just felt like the logical next step. We were inspired by Herbivore Magazine (R.I.P.), which was being printed out of Portland, Oregon in the United States at the time. Similar to them, we wanted to showcase veganism and demonstrate to the world that vegans did more than eat granola and protest. Of course, we covered that stuff too!
Where was T.O.F.U. Magazine founded?
T.O.F.U. was founded in both Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada since I was living in Winnipeg and my former partner was living in Halifax at the time.
Where is T.O.F.U. Magazine currently based?
I suspect the fact that T.O.F.U. was founded in two cities is probably part of the reason why it’s never really settled in one place. Of course, the fact that its publisher, namely me, has a seemingly endless interest in traveling doesn’t help either.
With that in mind, T.O.F.U. is currently based on Vancouver Island in British Columbia for the next few months until I head to Ontario, Newfoundland, and then Ireland by the fall.
Is T.O.F.U. Magazine monthly, bimonthly, quarterly or other?
For a number of reasons, T.O.F.U.’s release schedule has been sporadic, and I battled with this for several years. Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that I was more concerned with the quality of the magazine than its quantity. So, I started to concentrate on releasing issues only when I had a certain focus in mind.
However, as of September 2014, I quit my full-time job to focus on the magazine, so I’m hoping for things to become a little more frequent (assuming I don’t have to get a “real” job any time soon). Since then, I’ve released three issues, including a crowdfunded, printed anthology, and I’m now working on issue #11.
What themes does T.O.F.U. Magazine cover?
Over the years, T.O.F.U. has covered a number of themes, but the current overarching one is a focus on the intersection of various forms of oppression in relation to veganism. Thus, the last few issues have covered such things as sexism, fat shaming, racism, and more in relation to the animal rights movement and the vegan community.
Along with this, each issue typically includes a number of pieces on more general topics such as city or country reviews, do it yourself articles, and pieces showcasing activism around the world. In the past, recipes have also been included, but I suspect future issues will be recipe free since there are more than enough ways to get vegan recipes these days.
T.O.F.U. Magazine is a solely a digital publication correct? What was the motivation in establishing it in digital form?
Up until this year, T.O.F.U. had been released digitally since its fourth issue. Now, thanks to the success of a Kickstarter campaign, the tenth issue of T.O.F.U. was printed and I hope to continue this with the next issue. Of course, there are serious costs to consider with this move, so time will tell what happens.
As for the use of the digital format, one of the key reasons I made the switch was due to cost. However, other things such as my travelling and need to minimize what I carry, and the ability to offer each issue through a pay-what-you-want platform, also made the decision easy.
Another benefit of the switch to digital and the decreased production cost was the creation of the T.O.F.U. Grant. Thanks to its digital format, I was able to provide a small grant to a chosen recipient for half of the advertising revenue upon the release of a new issue. Now, with the tentative move to print, I’m not sure how I’ll continue the grant, but I’m hopeful I can figure out a way!
Does T.O.F.U. Magazine utilize social media for any specific reasons? If so, what social media platforms are preferred and why?
Before I even started publishing the magazine, I was involved in the music scene in Atlantic Canada, so I tried to keep an eye on social media. At that point, it was basically just MySpace and something called Facebook had people talking. From there, I tried to keep up with as much of it as possible, and eventually even ended up working in social media with my previous job.
So, for T.O.F.U., I use a majority of the platforms and try to cater to their typical audiences. Outside of the usual things like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, and tumblr, I’ve also started using Periscope, Reddit, and even a vegan social media platform called VeganWall.
Personally, I find Instagram to be the most rewarding in terms of people actually seeing and engaging with what I post, but I’m also expecting to find a lot of benefits from YouTube and Periscope as I continue to find new ways to create video content.
Since the magazine showcases vegans from around the world, I love being able to connect with people from all over through social media, and things like Periscope allow that to happen in real time, which is really intriguing.
With rising interest in veganism, the landscape of vegan publications, print and digital is growing as well. Where do you see T.O.F.U. Magazine within this landscape?
I’m pretty happy with where T.O.F.U. is at the moment in terms of the vegan publication landscape, but there’s always room for growth. The plan to move back to print is a part of that, but I’m also hoping to find ways to expand on the digital end of things too.
Also, given T.O.F.U.’s focus on more than just veganism itself, I think it covers an interesting aspect of the community that isn’t getting enough attention from other major publications, and it certainly isn’t being done to this degree.
Sure, there are plenty of amazing people talking about intersectional issues in various ways, both within and outside of the vegan community, but my hope is that T.O.F.U. can showcase their voices and concerns in a way that appeals to people who wouldn’t normally pick-up a zine, attend a rally, or join a group that tackles issues outside of the person’s usual bubble.
What needs and desires does T.O.F.U. Magazine satisfy for its readers?
At this point, I think the typical T.O.F.U. reader is someone who isn’t looking for reasons to become a vegan. They already are, and most likely have been for some time. With this in mind, the magazine aims to address issues beyond veganism that are somehow related and should be considered within a person’s activism. Basically, I’m not trying to convince someone about what they should have for dinner, I’m hoping to show them reasons why their activism should go beyond what’s already on their plate.
Images provided by T.O.F.U. Magazine
Questions & post by Annika Lundkvist
For more information on T.O.F.U. magazine, their recent book, and more, visit T.O.F.U.’s website here
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