A fresh Gale and perceptions of veganism


A fresh Gale and perceptions of veganism

Vegan breakfast

The library has recently acquired access to an extended range of historic newspapers via the Gale Primary Sources Database. In this blog post, second year English Language student, Holly Myers will tell us more about the collections and how they helped her to look at veganism through the eyes of the media.

This year sees the arrival of more historic newspapers in Gale Primary Sources. These enable a more rounded view of UK media reporting as they include a range of political perspectives. Here is a breakdown of the new titles:

  • The Daily Mail Historical Archive (1896-2004): A British newspaper established in 1896.

  • The Mirror Historical Archive (1903-2000):  A left-wing mainstream newspaper.

  • The Financial Times Historical Archive (1888-2021): A daily business newspaper. The paper focuses on financial and economic journalism rather than general world news. To read current issues, try

  • The Telegraph (1855-2016): Despite launching as an affordable newspaper in 1855, this paper is primarily directed at a wealthy, well-educated readership. The archive includes both The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph.

  • The Economist Historical Archive (1843-2020): A British weekly newspaper that was founded in 1843. It focuses on current affairs, international business and politics.

  • The Independent (1986-2012): Launched in 1986, the paper often takes a strong view on British politics and has campaigned in issues relating to drug legislation and the environment. 

  • The Illustrated London News (1842-2003): Since the first release in 1842, the publication has reported on British and world events such as news on war, the arts, and science.

  • The International Herald Tribune (1887-2013): An English language newspaper published in France for international English-speaking readers.
Stack of newspapers

The historic newspapers can be found online by:

  1. Going to Library Search via the university website or the Assist menu in you Blackboard.
  2. Then, log in using you CCCU and your password.
  3. Finally, select Find Databases A-Z, click on G and choose Gale Primary Sources.

Sandwich and laptop. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.

With the additional newspapers added to the database, there is a greater opportunity to look across both the broad sheets and tabloids and use the material for your degree and interests. My interest is in sustainability so I have decided use this use this archive to look at how veganism has been portrayed historically by the media.

To do this I firstly advance searched the terms ‘vegan’, ‘veganism’, ‘plant-based’ and looked at the most commonly used words in articles published when searching the terms above. When using the Gale Primary Sources Database, you can search across all titles and easily see these words presented in a chart. The charts below show the words often used in articles about veganism (A) and the frequency of the terms (B). From the charts, you can click on specific time periods and see all the publications realised that year. If you’re looking to at the words used, then you can click on the individual words and see all the papers that have them in.

         (A): Topic Finder Tile Visualization Tool

(B): Term Frequency Chart

The frequency in which veganism is written about has risen dramatically since the 1990’s. This could be due to the recognition of climate change and debates opening up on how to prevent it, as well people wanting to do their part to live a more sustainable lifestyle. However, when looking at the words used the most often in articles about veganism, we can see that they are words often associated with diets, celebrities and the food industry, rather than aspects relating to climate change or sustainability. Possibly suggesting that the media is more interested in the health effects of eating a vegan diet, rather than sustainability aspects. After reading some of the articles using these words, it was noticeable that when the term ‘vegan’ appeared in the title of article relating to a person it was often mentioned that they were vegan when their diet had no relation to the story. Here veganism could be seen to be a determining personality factor of what makes a person the way they are, rather than a lifestyle choice.

I’d really recommend trying Gale newspapers to help you answer some of your research questions. It’s a great tool for a window into the recent past.

This blog post was written by Holly Myers whilst on a work placement with Augustine House Library. During her placement, Holly was able to explore her interest in sustainability further by helping out with the Eco-hope and Slow Fashion events as well as create social media about the Refillable Van which visits the library on the last Thursday of the month. Thank you to all the staff who supported her during her placement.

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