VegNews CONTROVERSY

I had plans to post a recipe from a Guest Blogger today, but sometimes the news must take precident.  Our Guest Blog from Allyson of Manifest Vegan will now run on Monday…it’s a good one.

Many of you may or may not be aware of the photo controversy concerning VegNews Magazine.  When I first heard about it I was shocked and saddened (Read the article below from Quarry Girl for further information on the issue).

VegNews has issued a response to quarrygirl.com’s investigation.  To read VegNews’s response to the controversy click here.  It is always important to hear both sides of the story.

While I understand why people are upset, I will remain a reader of VegNews.  I understand the financial constraints that they are working under and I see how hard they have worked to help further veganism, for which I am very appreciative.  I truly think that their hearts are in the right place and I believe their justification for using stock photos on occasion.  According to VegNews. it is their future goal to use exclusively vegan photos as soon as it is financially feasible. 

I want to thank quarrygirl.com for bringing this issue to light.

Please read the article below by quarrygirl.com as well as the response from VegNews (click here) and then share your views in the comment section of my post.  I’d love to know what you think.

~Gretchen

________________________________________________________________________

RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

Investigation and Article by quarrygirl.com (To learn more about quarrygirl.com click here)

April 13th, 2011

Do you like looking at pictures of meat? How about a juicy beef burger, covered in egg mayonnaise with cow fat dripping off? Perhaps some soft, meaty chunks of chicken breast in chicken stock and cream? What about a pork sausage, oozing in pig fat, fresh from the slaughterhouse? OK, let’s tone it down a little. Perhaps you like to look at egg mayonnaise potato salad, made with eggs from those poor battery hens that are dead basically from the moment they are born. How about creamy mac and cheese made with real cow’s milk, pulled painfully from their sore and tender udders, infused with antibiotics, pain and anguish?

If so, you can find all this in the nation’s premier print and online vegan magazine, VegNews. Surprised? Shocked? Read on…

 vegribs RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

real meat ribs have bones removed with photoshop to appear vegan

We’ve always been fans of VegNews, since back in the mid-2000s when we’d wait with bated breath for the US Mail to deliver our copy. We’d eagerly flip through, reading all about the latest veg stuff, salivating over the amazing pictures, trying out a vegan recipe, and maybe even discovering a restaurant in our home town through one of their reviews.

it’s sad, then, that the pictures we’ve been drooling over for years are actually of MEAT! Veg News has written tens (possibly hundreds) of articles extolling the virtues of a vegan lifestyle, while purchasing rock-bottom priced stock photos of MEAT, EGGS, DAIRY and other completely non-vegan things. You doubt this? See below:

 vegnews realribs RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

stock photo of real meat ribs. a doctored photo of this appears on veg news.

We started searching for more examples of Veg News using meat photos next to “drool-worthy vegan recipes,” and the results were disturbing…

The vegan burger?

 vegnews burger RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

Not vegan at all!

 veg RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

a real meat burger on a stock photo site, as seen on vegnews.com

The soul satisfying seitan stew?

 vegnews seitan RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

Veg News “seitan stew”

It’s actually a picture of “chicken breast soup”!

 vegnews chicken 570x379 RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

Get your barf bags ready!

Oh, and it’s not just the website! We spot checked some photos from the magazine, and every single one was made from real animal products…

 vegnews mac RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

Real mac and cheese

 vegnews dog 570x404 RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

According to istock, this hotdog is real meat! Flipping the photo doesn’t fool us!

 vegnews potatosalad 570x488 RANT: VegNews is putting the MEAT into vegan issues

“Veganize it!” (very apt)

So, we’ve established that there are many, many pictures of MEAT in both the VegNews print magazine, and online. Why does this matter? After all, a picture is just a picture, right? Unfortunately, this situation exposes a clear issue with the editorial integrity of Veg News. They are KNOWINGLY publishing misleading pictures of MEAT dishes, and passing them off as vegan. If they will stoop that low (and appear to have been doing so for years) what else can we not trust about this formerly erstwhile publication?

Let’s look at the events of today that we think implicate a much deeper editorial issue, and in our opinion discredit not only everything Veg News is doing, but everything they have done. Here’s how it went down:

One of our readers emailed to say that he had noticed a photograph on the home page of VegNews.com that was from istockphoto.com, an inexpensive royalty-free photography vendor. He recognized the photo as being a real MEAT beef burger and immediately, emailed them and left a comment on the post saying that the burger was meat rather than vegan, expecting to be thanked for doing them a favor.

Minutes later, his comment mysteriously disappeared. So he left another, which was also deleted. He emailed again, and got this response:

“Thank you for your interest in VegNews. However, your inappropriate and mean-spirited commenting has violated the policy of VegNews, and we have and will continue to remove any future comments. Please know that we welcome constructive criticism from all viewpoints, and rarely unpublish comments from readers.

Should you have any constructive feedback, feel free to email me directly. I’d love to hear from you.”

We investigated the “policy” from a link on the home page, and were directed here. We didn’t see any reference to comments that called out meat pictures, so we left a very nice comment: “just want to let you know that this burger is not vegan. It’s a stock photo of a real beef burger” on the same post. Twenty minutes later, this comment was also deleted.

Our conclusion, therefore, is that VegNews has serious editorial integrity issues, and cannot be trusted. Indeed, we’re mailing back our award tomorrow. This is a very sad day.

Finally, how does this harm animals? Well, not directly – I mean, cows, pigs, chickens and who knows what else were clearly killed as part of the chain of events that led to the photo, but the laziness and outright lack of respect from Veg News toward animals and vegans undermines everything we stand for.

Animal suffering is prolonged and made worse enough by hypocritical meat eaters who never want to see inside the slaughterhouse just as it is by people in our community who deceive and lie. The devil within is much worse than the devil outside.

** UPDATE: Many of you are asking us how you can cancel your Veg News subscription. If you’re sure you want to do this, the “policies” page above gives the following information. Feel free to cancel, as we did.

….if you are dissatisfied with VegNews for any reason, you are welcome to a subscription refund at any time. Simply call us at 760-291-1546, or send us an email at vegnews@pcspublink.com.

Images courtesy of quarrygirl.com

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7 Comments

Filed under Education, Investigations, Vegan, Vegetarian

7 responses to “VegNews CONTROVERSY

  1. MaryNYC

    Wow, that is messed up! Can’t they just photograph their own dishes? It does appear to be a pattern.

    Not as bad, though, as Whole Foods running a “Happy Meat” campaign and buckling to Monsanto in allowing its disgusting GMOs!

  2. I was very saddened to read this, and I’m not even vegan. (I am a vegetarian) I feel like as a news source, they mislead readers into thinking their food was supposed to look like the samples they were showing… I can only imagine a newbie trying it out only to throw something away if it wasn’t just right. Photos of fresh ingredients would have done the trick, and told a better story. I sort of see it as a cop out to say they couldn’t afford it, there are tons of vegan only bloggers out there that may have jumped at the chance for a photo shout out. I guess, if you’re going to lie about a photo having meat in it, what else would they lie about? Sad really.

  3. This is a good lesson to everyone: do not trust a recipe without a photo and study the photo. I actually never buy culinary books w/o photos for each recipe and without reading several recipes in random (therefore my collection of books is very small). But I can call myself an expert cook, can read a recipe and imagine right away if it will or not work and how I should modify it. Sadly, but some cookbooks provide “fake” recipes. This was probably the case with VegNews, which I never read and am not going to. But they made a publicity, even The NYT published an article about this scandal today http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/earth/19vegan.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=veg%20news&st=cse. And this is good because we might see more new vegan products in the results.
    I am a vegan by health reason only, but I do not understand why people who became vegans by environmental or political reasons crave for mock meat, chicken, fish, or burger. Are they kidding themselves?

  4. I have now been committing journalism for nearly 43 years. Never once in all that time have I so much as imagined knowingly publishing a photograph of X as Y. Sometimes photos get mislabeled, e.g. photos of lookalike birds, but whenever that happens –– and I cannot recall it ever happening in my 19 years as editor of ANIMAL PEOPLE ––it is an embarrassing accident, which is immediately corrected.
    I wondered if different customs & ethics prevail among food journalists, so I consulted several, & several authors of vegetarian & vegan cookbooks, too. The universal response was that no self-respecting cook would allow anyone else’s slop to be passed off as his/her own creation.

  5. Jill

    In a feature length film it is very important to us that no animals were “harmed in the making of this movie.” How long has that been an industry standard? I believe at least 20 years now…Not only do I find VegNews’ move quite disturbing of using the meat pictures, I find their inability to issue a retractor the most disgusting part of their actions.
    This magazine had appeared at the newsstand at my job last month but for some reason, the ordering agent did not re-order it again for this month, and that is unusual timing.
    Even if it is printed on recycled paper and soy ink , I now consider THAT a waste of resources!
    Bravo to you for giving back you award. I would like to GIVE you a new reward! The People’s Reward in Defense of good “Wholesome Holistic Journalism.” Your prize will be delivered to you in the form of a very nice turn someone will do for you 😉

  6. paulinezuccaro

    The cover issue of chris carr wearing a fur-trimmed vest (even if fake)

  7. I remember watching a video a food photographer placing each grain of rice on the plate with tweezers. I was thinking, that is why my finished product never looks like the photo. It took days and hundreds of photos to get the finished product. I understand why a family magazine cannot afford to do this, and I would not like the recipes without any photos. I wonder if this revelation is the cause of a subscription change and loss of issues printed. I would prefer these photos be of vegan ingredients, but if they label the photo as “stock photo”, would the rest of you be happy? I truly love Veg News and want to continue receiving the magazine.

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