Portland's Driftwood Magazine Explores Veganism on a Global Scale

A veg mag without recipes? A new local publication breaks the mold to celebrate vegan travel and culture.

By Tuck Woodstock September 23, 2015

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The first issue of Driftwood Magazine packs in plenty of advice for wayfaring vegans: packing essentials on a Nepalese excursion, for instance, and where to drink in Budapest. One thing it doesn’t include? Recipes. 

“It was really hard to get people to break out of the expected vegan format and stop sending me recipes,” says Driftwood editor in chief Holly Feral. “But that’s what people know and expect.”

Instead of following in the footsteps of familiar titles like VegNews and Vegetarian Times, Feral threw out the script and started from scratch, drawing inspiration from Interview, Hi-Fructose, and even a British tattoo mag to create a brand-new style of vegan magazine.

“Once you’re past the 101 stuff, there aren’t really any publications out that are going to interest you,” Feral reflects. “You already know how to bake tofu, and you already know that veganism is good for you. You don’t need to read that stuff anymore. So what is there for you to read? Who is exploring the world of veganism for you?”

The answer, ostensibly, is Driftwood. The Portland-based magazine draws on an international network of contributors, and has already garnered attention from vegans around the globe—Germany seems particularly fired up, supporting the magazine’s $25,000 Kickstarter campaign in droves. (“Kickstarter is the most terrible meat grinder that you can ever put your emotions through,” Feral laughs.)

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 A native Southerner, Feral studied print journalism and photojournalism at Western Kentucky University. (“I didn’t want to pick a side,” she explains.) After a stint in Seattle, she moved to Portland in 2013 to pursue a photography degree at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, but dropped out after a single term to launch Driftwood.  

The first issue, which debuted in August, is packed with gorgeous photography and polished prose on subjects from vegan tattoos to seitan factories, haute couture, and even an extraterrestrial lesbian artist. Rather than sporting dreamy shots of dairy-free ice cream, the cover features a full-page shot of Feral’s Driftwood tattoo, with a ribbon of text promising “travel and culture for the graduated vegan.”

“I think that non-vegans will pick it up and enjoy it, but we’re specifically not trying to target at non-vegans,” says Feral. “Vegans are a big enough group; we deserve to have a publication that talks to us.”

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Just how big is that group? Feral cites studies that count 7.5 million vegans in the United States alone, and “huge vegan populations” in pockets around the world. Exploring these lesser-known areas is Driftwood’s main mission—the debut issue delves into vegan communities in Italy, Tel Aviv, and rural South Korea; the second issue, due out in November, will explore Day of the Dead traditions in Mexico and Peru.

“We want people to feel like there are other vegan ports to go to,” says Feral. “But we also want to explore the idea that veganism has heritage. Veganism isn’t just a fly by night fad—it’s a philosophy that’s deeply embedded in history and culture. We really use travel as a framework to be able to explore the world.”

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