This Week’s Good and Bad

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This is a feature I’ve been kicking around in my head for a little while now, something to get me blogging here on a more regular basis. Let’s see how long this weekly idea lasts.

The concept here is pretty simple: each week, focusing briefly on one good thing that’s happened in vegan news (vegan news being something animal-related, health-related, etc.) and one not-so-great thing. The “bad” item is hopefully something that we can learn from and not just shake our heads and become despondent about. So, let’s try this out.

This week’s bad…

I think given how it was all over the vegan blogosphere, twitterverse, and Facebook… galaxy?, it would be hard to mention something other than quarrygirl’s uncovering of VegNews‘ dirty little secret: not all of the food photos in their magazines or on their site are photos they’ve taken. In fact, the pictures might not even be of the food pictured. And to top it off, some of the photos are of meat and other decidedly non-vegan items. The most facepalming of the images is the shot of ribs that had the bones Photoshopped out before publication. Seriously, guys?

The response has ranged from “are we really going to spend time concerned ourselves with this?” to “OMG WE MUST CANCEL OUR SUBSCRIPTIONS, WRITE MANY ANGRY TWEETS, AND GO KICK SOMEONE IN THE NADS!” My take on it is somewhere in the middle, leaning toward the latter, perhaps minus the nad kicking.

Sure, it’s not the end of the world and it’s not like they were making meat dishes specifically to take pictures of them. These were stock photos. However, there is a lot to dislike about the situation. For one, they were not up front about their use of stock photos that contain meat. As a vegan publication, that’s the type of thing that you need to just not do. And it’s pretty clear they knew they shouldn’t be doing it, otherwise they would have made some sort of disclaimer somewhere about it (I’d hope). It’s disappointing and deceptive that this practice went on for so long.

In addition, I read that they’ve used vegan photographers in the past, but that they’ve been unable to reimburse them. A lot of photographers are OK with that, with the whole help-a-vegan-out mentality. Yet, in VegNews‘ apology, they seem to indicate that they can’t afford to take pictures of every item or to pay vegan photographers… but they can buy stock photos? Listen, I know stock photos are cheap and that the magazine industry’s in a tough place, but there were surely a lot of people out there willing to help.

Lastly, when people tried to bring the issue up on VegNews‘ blog, the comments were deleted and the initial commenter was told he was being “inappropriate and mean-spirited.” Even if the tone was off (I don’t know if it was), that’s a crappy way to respond as a magazine.

So, yeah, I’m pretty disgusted by the whole thing. It sucks for readers and supporters of the magazine and it sucks for vegan photographers that probably would have been more than willing to help out. But, do I hope the magazine folds because of it? No. I want them to pull through, fix it, and keep being a magazine that does a pretty good job reaching out to the mainstream. And hopefully that is what will happen.

This week’s good…

There’s one dog on Flickr whose photos I’ve followed for years. He’s a bluetick coonhound named Hugo that totally reminds me of Amina. I think they would have gotten along if they’d ever met.

Anyway, I came across this photo this week and the accompanying story. It’s too cute not to share.

One Response to “This Week’s Good and Bad”

  1. Meredith

    I think the real issue is not being able to hire food stylists. Presumably they’re cooking the recipes at SOME point to be able to write about them, yes? So they’re just not able to hire a food stylist to make them pretty, and then snap a picture. Personally, I would rather have an ugly picture of vegan food than an attractive stock picture of meat.

    I also kind of feel like it’s a truth-in-advertising issue. I expect the picture accompanying the recipe to be OF the recipe. If the recipe is for a vegan meatball sub, and I expect the picture to be of THAT sub recipe. Whether it’s meat or not, I expect it to match the recipe itself. But using stock photography means they grabbed a random meatball sub photo. One meatball sub is not every meatball sub, and it’s definitely not the VEGAN meatball sub, because that one’s “meat” might look different.

    In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t change my opinion of VegNews. I totally get why they did it. Yeah, stock photography of vegan food just doesn’t exist, so they used what existed. But I do wish they had let us know.

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