Vegetarian Times is a monthly magazine published nine times a year (three double issues) by Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc. The magazine's audience consists of vegetarians, vegans, and "semi-vegetarians" who are focused on a healthy lifestyle. Vegetarian Times promotes an eco-friendly lifestyle with recipes, wellness information, cooking techniques, and information on "green" products. Half of the readership do not follow a strict vegetarian diet.
After unsuccessfully attempting to sell an article he wrote about vegetarianism entitled "Being a Vegetarian Is Never Having to Say You're Sorry – to a Cow", in 1974 founder Paul Obis put together a four-page handout and called it Vegetarian Times. He made 300 photocopies and from his first issue generated two subscriptions.
In the seventies, the magazine increased in size from 4 pages to 16, to 24 and was published with press runs of 1,000–2,000 copies. By 1977, after around number 19, Vegetarian Times was published bi-monthly and had a readership of 10,000. Overwhelmed with producing and distributing the magazine from his home, Obis sought a publisher and sold an 80% ownership share to New York publisher Associated Business Publications (ABP) in exchange for assuming $6000 in debt and two bags of unopened mail and agreeing to continue the publication.
During the time that ABP owned the magazine, Obis continued on as editor. In 1985 Obis repurchased the magazine from ABP for $276,000. Obis' longtime friend, Fred Rogers (AKA "Mister Rogers") helped finance the deal and became a minority shareholder, while Obis owned the majority. Vegetarian Times grew rapidly under Obis' management: circulation grew from 10,000 to over 250,000 by 1990. In that year, Obis and Rogers sold the magazine to Cowles Media, owner of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, for $10 million.
In 2003 Active Interest Media purchased the publication from Cowles Media and relaunched it in November 2004, the 30th anniversary of the magazine, after significant investment and an editorial overhaul. The magazine expanded coverage to appeal not only to strict vegetarians, but people simply looking for a healthy lifestyle and seeking healthy recipes. APB converted the magazine to a monthly publication schedule and increased advertising from nearly nothing to 15 to 20 pages per issue. The circulation grew eightfold and the revenues grew twenty times to over $1 million. Despite the growth, the periodical continued to lose money. In 1985 ABP acquired a new publication and decided Vegetarian Times would not get the staff attention it needed to become profitable. Obis took the opportunity to buy back his magazine and in two years raised circulation to 250,000 and gross revenues to $10 million. As of the late 1980s, there were no other head-to-head magazine competitors in the United States.
The magazine has had a number of changes in ownership since Obis purchased the company. In 1990, Cowles Media acquired Vegetarian Times. In 1999, Sabot Publishing near Richmond, Virginia purchased the publication from Primedia in Manhattan, New York who had only owned the magazine for 18 months at the time of its sale. In 2003 the magazine was acquired from Richmond-based Sabot Publishing by Cruz Bay Publishing, a subsidiary of Active Interest Media. In 2007, Elizabeth Turner was named Editor-in-Chief. Prior to joining Vegetarian Times, Turner was the Managing Editor of Natural Health magazine.
As of 2008, Vegetarian Times is the only epicurean magazine dedicated to vegetarian cooking and health. In addition to three to four feature articles, each issue may include the following regular departments:
- goods kitchen tools and cookware
- eco-beauty green cosmetics and beauty products
- ask the doc Q&A about medical issues
- healing foods investigation into foods with healing properties
- 30 minutes quick menu ideas
- veg lite healthy recipe collections
- technique cooking how-to advice
- gluten-free pantry ideas for gluten-free lifestyles
- planet home eco-friendly topics
- one on one interviews
- James Samuel Gordon
- Suzanne Havala Hobbs
- Anya Kamenetz
- Viktoras Kulvinskas
- Nancy Lonsdorf
- Deborah Madison
In addition to the magazine, Vegetarian Times also periodically publishes special interest publications such as The Vegetarian Beginner's Guide and recipe compilations such as Healing Foods Cookbook: 25 Foods You Need, 75 Recipes You'll Love.