Vegan Site Shocks Readers With Photos of Dead Animals


veg newsThis scandal isn't quite Watergate, but for vegans, it's a really big deal.

This week it was revealed that VegNews, a vegan magazine and website, runs stock photos of dishes that aren't actually vegan. Vegan food blogger QuarryGirl broke the bad news, accusing the site of photo-shopping rib bones out of a photo to make it look more vegan and committing other similar transgressions with photos of dead animals.

On the one hand, I understand why readers are outraged that a site they trusted knowingly passed off meat dishes as vegan. But many are now cancelling their subscriptions, and maybe -- just maybe -- they should give VegNews a bit of a break ...

First, here is VegNews' response to QuarryGirl's accusations. In a nutshell: It admitted to using the fraudulent photos but justified its actions nevertheless:

Yes, from time to time, after exhausting all options, we have resorted to using stock photography that may or may not be vegan. In an ideal world we would use custom-shot photography for every spread, but it is simply not financially feasible for VegNews at this time. In those rare times that we use an image that isn't vegan, our entire (vegan) staff weighs in on whether or not it's appropriate.

It is industry standard to use stock photography in magazines — and, sadly, there are very few specifically vegan images offered by stock companies. In addition, it's exceedingly challenging to find non-stock imagery that meets the standard necessary for publication. We would love nothing more than to use only vegan photography shot by vegan photographers, and we hope to be there soon.

If VegNews, as it said, can't afford to use custom-shot photography for every dish it features, then it has to resort to stock photography. And, the sad fact of the matter is, just like it's difficult to find vegan dishes in restaurants, it equally difficult to find vegan dishes in the stock photography collections. VegNews wasn't being lazy -- it's just working with the only options it had even if that meant the outcome wasn't completely desirable or in line with its ideals.

Still, perhaps the publication could have alerted its readers to the situation and noted that it used vegan photos whenever possible. A little transparency goes a long, long way.

Do you think a vegan publication should only use photos of vegan food?

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Dakota Brizendine

I am vegan and I love this magazine. I think people need to chill. They are doing the best they can. I mean a disclaimer would have been nice but I am definitely keeping my subscription.  It is sort of funny this came out because last month there was a picture of mac and cheese and I showed it to my husband who is a vegan chef and I said "how do they make it look so good, that doesn't even look vegan!" then I saw that pic on the list of ones that weren't and we both just started laughing. I love their mag and recommend it to vegans and non vegans alike.

Leanne Carnegie

I'm not Vegan, but I do have a Vegan friends and to me, this feels like saying "well, the fake leather was too expensive, just not in our budget.  We used the real stuff, no one will know the difference!"

If you've got strong moral convictions about something, you stick to it.    They could have easily reached out to their base and said "hey, we can't afford photography for every recipe and we can't get vegan stock photos, anyone willing to do some pro-bono work?".    Team vegan chefs up with vegan photogs, and viola!  Vegan pics at no cost to the magazine.   

nonmember avatar Christine

I am thinking of all the different food magazines out there and I wonder how many of the photographs are stock photos that have been edited to fit the need? I am thinking this is probably done quite frequently for money and time sake. I do not think magazines are trying to trick their readers when they do this; they are simply using business sense. If the recipes given are accurate for what the dish is (vegan, diabetic, etc.) then I think not always using the accurate photo is okay.

spaan... spaangel13

I don't care what they use for photos.  I'm not vegan nor ever will be.  Even if I saw photos of dead animals....wouldn't change my mind about eating meat.  I love meat, I need it and God gave us animals for the use of food. 

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