As a child I never thought about the consequences of eating meat, though my hometown smelled of a slaughterhouse. Now I've happily eaten a meat-free diet for over 23 years and am moving toward shunning dairy foods altogether.
Gandhi and Thoreau would approve. 'I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals,' the Concord bean farmer wrote in Walden.
Whether or not humankind is improving, a handful of worthwhile magazines foster the joys of eating a plant-based diet while informing readers about political, environmental, and health effects of their dietary decisions.
Herbivore, now in its third year, is a magazine for vegans -- people who choose to eat only plant foods, as Gandhi did. Far from being ascetic, the magazine is written by and for people interested in zines, Internet culture (for example, vegporn.com), animal rights activism, and alternatives to leather. A few pages of each issue are devoted to recipes, such as ones for 'vegan comfort food.' $15/yr. (4 issues) from 5254 NE 32nd Pl., Portland, OR 97211; www.herbivoreclothing.com.
VegNews, another vegan magazine, started five years ago as a black-and-white paper and has grown into a substantial, colorful bimonthly covering topics from genetically modified foods and organics labeling to vegan weddings. Each issue contains nutrition and health columns, new-product info, 'taste test' comparisons, and plenty of recipes. $20/yr. (6 issues) from Box 320130, San Francisco, CA 94132; www.vegnews.com.
Vegetarian Journal looks like -- and is -- a venerable publication. In its 24th year, the project of the Vegetarian Resource Group is run on a small budget. Its publishers accept no paid ads and the magazine focuses on vegan recipes. Summaries of scientific papers, product and book reviews, a nutrition column, and a profile of a vegetarian activist round out each issue. $20/yr. (4 issues) from Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; www.vrg.org.
American Vegan, another dated -- looking but timeless magazine, is published by the American Vegan Society. Its pages integrate material about diet and food preparation with coverage of other issues related to compassionate living and the Sanskrit concept of Ahimsa -- 'non-killing, non-injury, non-harming.' $20/yr. (4 issues) from Box 369, Malaga, NJ 08328; www.americanvegan.org.
Vegetarian Voice is a magazine offering 'perspectives on healthy, ecological & compassionate living' since the mid-1970s. Published by the nonprofit North American Vegetarian Society, it devotes its pages to mail order book listings, vegan recipes, news about political and environmental issues, and articles on topics from vegan health to animal behavior. $22 membership/yr. (4 issues) from Box 72, Dolgeville, NY 13329; www.navs-online.org.
Also noteworthy: Satya, a monthly focusing on vegetarianism, environmentalism, animal advocacy, and social justice ($20/yr. from 539 1st St., Brooklyn, NY 11215; www.satyamag.com) and Vegetarian Times, a glossy magazine aimed at upscale readers who eschew meat but not cheese beignets ($19.95/10 issues from Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142; www.vegetariantimes.com).
This Just In
The Tracking Way ('Nature, Art, and Cultural Identity for Young People') is a new magazine published by In This Place, a nonprofit founded in 2001. Geared toward teenagers, but not dumbed down, the initial issue features writings on gratitude, Mohawk language immersion, storytelling, old-growth forests, bobcat tracking, and how to start a fire without matches. $24.95/yr. (4 issues) from Box 217, Wendell, MA 01379; www.inthisplace.org.