|Bob Lawton and Cara Livermore are a young couple that have taken their love for vegan food into a new venture called Chickpea Magazine.
Bob Lawton, a part-time sixth year Computer Science major, and Cara Livermore are the creators of Chickpea — a new magazine centered on vegan culture. Chickpea is already up online and will soon have printed copies available by request. The idea for Chickpea grew from their blog Hipsterfood (http://hipsterfood.tumblr.com), a vegan food blog that the two started a little over a year ago. The two got the idea to expand the blog to a format in which they could accept recipes, stories, artwork and photos from members of the vegan community.
To fund the first issue, the two started a Kickstarter project with the goal of raising one thousand dollars. Once their 20,000 plus Hipsterfood followers got a hold of it, though, Chickpea exploded, bringing in $8,500. “I remember the day that it blew up. We were getting like 10-15 orders every five minutes,” Livermore recalls. The project spread through the blogosphere and soon the pair was getting offers from companies to review vegan products and cookbooks. Kickstarter even wanted the two to come do a cooking demonstration at their headquarters in New York City, and possibly teach classes around the country. People in the Kickstarter office even have pictures of the duo as desktop backgrounds on their computers. It’s safe to say that Chickpea has made an impression.
“Chickpea is an attempt to get the vegan community to come together,” said Lawton. “One thing you’ll see in the vegan community online is that they can be very critical. They like to police everything that you do.” The definition of what is or isn’t considered vegan, as well as the ethics of fake meat, are always up for debate, and things can get heated. “We want a way for people to talk about this and not be judgmental,” Livermore says. Lawton likes where the discussions have gone. “We have articles from all of these vegans and now have all these different perspectives like, ‘This is why I went vegan, this is why I stayed vegan, these are the health benefits,’ and things like that,” he adds. The two received submissions for stories from as far away as Alaska and as close as the RIT campus.
Jocelyn Lui, a third year New Media Design and Imaging major, submitted a recipe for vegan alfredo sauce. She first became aware of Chickpea through Hipsterfood and saw it as an opportunity to share something with the vegan community. “Cooking, like writing, is somewhat of a communal act to me. You put all these ingredients together and come up with something that hopefully tastes awesome,” says Lui, who is a Creative Writing minor. “Whenever I make something I always want to give it away.”
To submit, interested writers must first send in a proposal outlining what they want to write about, and if Lawton and Livermore feel like it will fit into the issue, they give the green light for a final submission. The two just finished the first ad-free, 96-page fall issue. All of the editing, design and most of the photography is done by the duo, and they relied heavily on Livermore’s artistic background. The two made a point to avoid advertising in the magazine, both for aesthetic reasons and to show readers that the focus of Chickpea is on them.
They’ve printed around 200 copies of the first issue for distribution. The magazine is currently being produced seasonally, with the winter issue already receiving submissions. This time they’re coming from around the world. Lawton and Livermore understand that a lot of hard work is in the future to keep the success of Chickpea going, but they’re optimistic. “We’re going to have to do another drive for the next issue, and another one for the next issue,” Lawton says. “But once we get more subscribers, we can think about expanding.”
Check out Chickpea for yourself at http://chickpea-magazine.tumblr.com