(Original story at the Diner’s Journal here.)
This story serves to remind us about the influence and reach of bloggers and social media. The magazine will definitely suffer from the backlash of not following the principles of the vegan lifestyle which it promotes and for not being straightforward about its source of photos for its recipes.
April 14, 2011, 6:00 PM
Meat Discovered in Meatless MagazineBy STEVEN STERN
Vegans and vegetarians are known to be clever about food substitutions: baking with applesauce in place of eggs, turning tempeh into sausages. But it seems that VegNews, a San Francisco-based vegetarian lifestyle magazine, has been doing things the other way around: using photographs of meat and dairy to stand in for the stand-ins.
“The pictures we’ve been drooling over for years are actually of MEAT!” thundered the author of the vegan blog Quarrygirl.com, who broke the story in a post last night.
Tipped off by a reader, the blog’s author, who would not give her name, discovered that the 11-year-old magazine has been getting many of its photographs from the royalty-free service iStockphoto. And, according to the original captions, those photos are anything but vegan.
That picture of a “burger”? It’s really a burger. Running with a recipe for “veganized Brunswick stew” is a shot of a decidedly un-veganized “chicken breast soup.” A creamy-looking macaroni and cheese photo depicts, the blog noted with horror, a dish made from actual cow’s milk cheese, “infused with antibiotics, pain and anguish.”
As one commenter pointed out, a photo meant to illustrate “Vegan Spare Ribs” was apparently made more convincingly meatless by removing the bones via Photoshop.
Many commenters agree with Quarrygirl that this constitutes a pretty major scandal. But not everyone has turned against VegNews. The blog Babe in Soyland came to the magazine’s defense, citing the financial realities of producing a professional-looking niche magazine. “In the end,” the author wrote, “these stock images are illustrations.” With a picture of a vegan hot dog, it’s “the ideaof the hot dog that is important,” not what it’s made from.
That is essentially the line taken by the magazine earlier this afternoon, in an official response on its Web site. “The entire VegNews family,” it began, “is deeply saddened with the dialogue that has transpired over the last 12 hours.” The letter admitted that “from time to time, after exhausting all options, we have resorted to using stock photography that may or may not be vegan,” but claimed that using custom-shot images “is simply not financially feasible” at the moment. “We would love nothing more than to use only vegan photography shot by vegan photographers, and we hope to be there soon.”
This is unlikely to mollify Quarrygirl, who insisted that “the laziness and outright lack of respect from Veg News toward animals and vegans undermines everything we stand for.” The blogger announced that she is cancelling her subscription, and returning the award that the magazine gave her – a 2009 “Scandal Breaker of the Year Award” for a stealth investigation into deceptive practices in Los Angeles vegan restaurants.