The Treachery of Images

Dedicated to VegNews Magazine.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_kwoeqBU-2wY/TPT-ozX_VOI/AAAAAAAAAAw/38I4JYbsbEA/s1600/Margritti+this+is+not+a+pipe.jpg

The Treachery of Images (La Trahison Des Images), 1928–29 René Magritte

When Magritte made this painting in the 1920s, the apparent contradiction was obvious. Is it a pipe? In truth, this is not a pipe, but rather an image of a pipe – which was exactly Magritte’s point:

“The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a pipe,” I’d have been lying!”

The majority of media that’s put out into the mainstream has been altered: the contrast, the color, a model’s skin, the texture on an ear of corn. This is especially true in the fashion and food realm. These representations are not the actual objects. They transcend reality and become symbols within a specific context. Even if they had not been altered to suit an audience or fetishized in the case of food and fashion, they would still not be the actual objects. We can not eat the corn, or touch the model’s skin.mcluhan.jpg

Media theorist, Marshall McLuhan’s famous “the medium is the message” statement also speaks to this. A photograph (or any representation of something) is not the actual object it represents. A digital stock image of a plate of food is not edible – it is a series of ones and zeroes. The broader meaning of “the medium is the message” speaks to structural changes that sneak by behind the obvious content of media. The real message of a stock photo is, well, stock photography. Or perhaps, digital technology itself.

This is not to say that we can not use images to explain reality – in the case of a trial where security camera footage or a sketch of a criminal is used, but we should also be careful not to react to images as if they are reality.

In the case where publications use stock images within a certain context, it’s crucial to understand that context and the results. Symbols are tools, and those tools can be used used however the publication contextualizes them.

Written by joshuakatcher

Joshua Katcher is an adjunct professor of fashion at Parsons The New School. His research focuses on sustainability and ethics in fashion production. He started The Discerning Brute in 2008 as a resource for men who want to make intelligent decisions concerning their lifestyles. With a focus on “fashion, food & etiquette for the ethically handsome man”, The Discerning Brute produces expert, essential content and boldly takes a stand. Brave GentleMan, the integrated, eCommerce brother-site of The Discerning Brute was launched in 2011 and features “principled attire” and “smart supplies” handpicked for informed indulgence.
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  • Pingback: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”; “This is not a pipe” | briancarlisle

  • Denise

    thanks Joshua, I appreciate your comments and I love your blog. You have done so much to show the world that vegans can be stylish and artful as well as compassionate. I have to agree that this VegNews scandal has just come off making the vegan movement look bad. As for Quarrygirl, I stopped paying attention a while ago. I have no time for people who complain and moan about everything instead of looking forward to see what they can contribute. It seems to be a pattern with some folks in our community. Just my two cents.

  • Tara G Warrior

    “How does this help animals?” That was the question, right?

    How about ‘how does the deception on the pat of “Veg”News HURT animals?’

    Their actions have damaged the credibility of the entire vegan movement, and right at a time when unprecedented strides were being made. They have set us back, who knows how far? We look foolish to the mainstream due to their actions, will this win over new vegans? The omnis just have more fuel for their denial now.

    And furthermore, with three states looking to make it illegal to both acquire and distribute images of factory farm torture, does any of this lend credibility to our movement? Hell to the no. Quite the opposite. Think some slimy lobbyist for big agriculture isn’t already planning to use this against us, perhaps by saying we doctor and misrepresent everything? Yes, I know it sounds far fetched, but stranger things have happened. Remember that lobbyists get paid to dig dirt on the molecular level and turn it into Mt. Everest.

    Finally, as a longtime reader, I feel deceived. It hurts. I know I’m not alone. As QG said, this movement is, at its core, about TRUTH and ETHICS. The preeminent ”vegan” publication has put money before principle, and that is against everything I believe, it is against everything that makes me a vegan. And to add insult to injury by issuing a non-apology…in PDF form? First they deceived, then they insult. I thought being vegan was about being kind…?

    Guess I was wrong.

    • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

      Which is exactly why this sensitive information should have been handled with care and concern as opposed to aired out in public. You are making the perfect argument for why this should not have been a “scandal” unless its more about your feelings than anything else.

      • Timeshater

        People tried to gently point out to VegNews in their comments that the stock photos were NOT vegan, in case it was a mistake, and they got deleted. How is deleting commenters “handling a situation with care and concern?”

        • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

          so the next logical step is to make a scandal? How about pickup up the phone and calling them – their number is listed in the magazine. Have a conversation.

          Can we just move on already, this is such a waste of time… I have to get back to work.

          • Tara G Warrior

            I have contacted them directly several times, and they clearly have no desire for a conversation, as my messages have not been returned, nor were any questions answered when I did get someone on the line. If they do anything at all, it’s take down your info. That’s it. That comes off to me like corporate bean counting, as though they are trying to tally up just how many people they will lose due to this before they’ll contemplate any action.

            • Timeshater

              This also misses the point that VegNews made their own scandal! They were the ones who

              1) evidently had a history of silencing/ firing employees who weren’t cool with the policy of using non-vegan stock photography
              2) silenced commenters who were trying to start the conversation you condescendingly suggest they start, claiming that their attempts at opening dialogue were a violation of the comments policy
              3) Quarrygirl blogs about it. Because you know, Quarrygirl is up there with CNN in terms of readership.

              Whatever!

              • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

                I stand by my defending of using stock photos if the goal is to promote veganism. And in QuarryGirl’s own words “what I did didn’t help any animals directly”.

                Lets end this and get back to dong good work, I am exhausted.

    • http://twitter.com/havegonevegan havegonevegan

      Actually, I think the whole scandal itself has set back the movement. All parties handled this badly and unfortunately, we now come across as squabbling toddlers with zero conflict-resolution skills. What also seems clear is that we’re so entrenched in believing we’re right (no matter where you stand on the issue), that it’s doubtful we can persuade non-vegans of anything since we can’t even convince other vegans of our point of view. The only winners in all of this that I can see are those opposed to animal rights. So sad. I just hope we can learn something positive from this.

  • ECSchmidt

    People respond differently to different tactics. The idea of community, unity, and working together for a common cause appeals to some people. It does not appeal to me. I don’t want to keep my mouth shut about the truth for the sake of presenting a unified front to outsiders. To me, that’s one of the worst things about most groups and causes (religions, political parties, etc.). I have no interest in identifying myself with any group, especially if that group requires its members to gloss over the flaws of the movement (it’s not working for the Catholics or the Scientologists). I’m only concerned with presenting the truth as I see it, and I believe that that kind of commitment to the truth will benefit animals in the long run. That’s why I’m a vegan (or why I live as vegan a life as possible, if that sounded too much like self-identification); I care about the truth and not about the consequences of living in light of the truth. I’m sure there are others like me who are impressed, not embarrassed, by the backlash against vegnews. A prominent publication getting caught with its pants down may (MAY) be a temporary setback, but if the majority of vegans condemn the wrong done, we have shown ourselves to be credible and honest. And that matters. And it should be noted that the people who are just laughing at vegans because of this are the people who laugh at vegans every time they hear the word. This fiasco demonstrates independent thought among vegans, and that’s exactly the image I want to convey to outsiders. Veganism should not be a cult.

    • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

      I don’t see the point of this comment, aside from you stating how pure and perfect you are when it comes to handling “the truth as I see it”. Good for you. Unfortunately, most people who harm animals have no interest in being earnest and they will not necessarily bask in the light of your perfection and be enlightened, but go running from it because they can’t relate to it. That’s why strategies like saving money by using stock photos in exchange for maintaining a national magazine that promotes veganism in a dialect that mainstream people are attracted to is a net gain for bringing about awareness.

      Veganism is not a religion to me. It is a social justice issue. Maybe that’s the distinction here. I actually care about helping to bring about this awareness using art which is always a contextualized version of reality, as opposed to the paralyzing effects of trying to be perfect.

      • ECSchmidt

        My point is that you can try to quantify the good and harm done in this situation and do all the imaginary calculations you want, but there’s no way you can know that presenting a unified front to non-vegans will save more animals than presenting an image of vegans as individuals with a variety of opinions who are (unwillingly, sometimes) lumped together because of our food ethics. I believe that presenting ourselves as varied individuals is the better long-term strategy. You disagree. Your position may be the majority position (people do love to get along), but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for dissent within our ranks. Even public dissent that leads to snarky anti-vegan comments on articles and blogs. There are people who are turned off by the idea that vegans are a monolithic group that shames its members into conformity. Those people need to be reached too.

        It’s strange to me that you accuse me of fetishizing purity. I didn’t intend to convey that. I’m just saying that I have my principles, as everyone does, and people who share those particular principles will not be impressed by seeing the vegan community sweep this transgression under the rug.

  • Timeshater

    So then are all the images in Pinnacle magazine of real fur and just re-contextualized?

    • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

      Timeshater, even though your question is rhetorical – I’ll go ahead and answer anyway.

      Putting together just 2 magazines with original photography,styling, etc was SO prohibitively expensive, that if it were monthly, I do not know how we could do it without a budget with 6 digits. High-end food photography and styling is not much different.

      On page 3 of volume 2 there is a stock image of a real fur coat with some blood-splatters that illustrate a diagram explaining how fur is typically made. Other than that, we shot all of our own editorials featuring designers’ garments who are anti-fur.

      PINNACLE’s aim is to help animals who are used for fur. It’s been a true labor of love. We’ve gotten all anti-fur , volunteer models, designers, and crew to come together to do something powerful within the fashion dialect (and that is the key point, the DIALECT). It was a lot of hard work, but it is really speaking to the fashion crowd in a way that activists have not been entirely able to articulate, or who are too earnest to be willing to do.

      I see the point you are trying to make, but don’t really agree that it’s worth making. We get enough slack from the fur industry and pro-fur designers, I certainly hope we have your support.

      • Timeshater

        I’m not criticizing Pinnacle. What I am criticizing is your inconsistency. You claim that Veg News didn’t do anything wrong by using stock images of corpses and pretending that they were representations of vegan food, citing that images aren’t the same as actual objects and it’s all a matter of intention and context: “These representations are not the actual objects. They transcend reality and become symbols within a specific context. Even if they had not been altered to suit an audience or fetishized in the case of food and fashion, they would still not be the actual objects. We can not eat the corn, or touch the model’s skin.” But by that logic then it wouldn’t matter if Pinnacle DID use actual fur, yes? Since the contextualization of the images is all that matters? Which is it?

        You claim that people who are upset at Veg News are somehow hurting the movement and making vegans look bad, but not addressing the fact that the message being sent by using pictures of meat and dairy dishes reinscribes the message that vegan food isn’t “enough” or “good enough” or “appealing enough” and that all vegans are secretly dying to eat a bacon cheeseburger in a back alley under cover of night, a stereotype that most omnis have ANYWAY. Plus, the entire point of your blog seems to be to show that isn’t true: that one need not sacrifice pleasure, cuisine, aesthetics and fashion in order to be ethical — that you can eat as well and luxuriously and dress just as fabulously and do it vegan, yes?

        I think your defense of them falls exceedingly flat, and your attacks on people who think it is uncool for a magazine promoting veganism to use pictures of meat are really excessive. Your reasoning here is hardly discerning. Not to mention it’s totally legit to criticize Veg News and not want them to fail — people just want honesty and accountability.

        • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com joshuakatcher

          …for the record, I never “claim[ed] that people who are upset at Veg News are somehow hurting the movement”. In fact, i agree that it would be fantastic if all the photos were of vegan food by vegan photographers. What I did claim was that making a public scandal of this didn’t help animals. And QuarryGril admitted to that by saying ““what I did didn’t help any animals directly”.

  • Lotte

    Oh, and he will ban my comments because he doesn’t allow freedom of “speech” here really. He is as fake as his once cover up girlfriend (who now says she is straight). As fake as his shoes. This constant back and forth that means nothing is a Jewish sterotype. I feel sorry for Josh’s dogs who want to eat meat.

  • Anonymous

    It’s understandable that some people are upset but this word “duped” keeps coming up. People are feeling duped. I can’t help but think that is more a sign of ego than concern for animals. Being upset about a lie is legitimate but creating hysteria is not. This doesn’t affect animals at all and is just making vegans look ridiculous to the rest of the world.

  • Anonymous

    Love the Magritte comparison. These other analogies I’m seeing are so trite.

  • Michelle

    Have you noticed? In our movement, when a “leader”, biz, org or individual gets “busted” the knee-jerk reaction to the dialogue that follows is so often to dismiss. Attack the messenger and divert others by the “how is this exchange helping animals…”. It’s so effing predictable.

  • Lotte

    Well, Joshua loves this pretend world here. Animals will not be any better or worse off after he leaves this earth and all this amounts to nothing. People will still eat meat, and wear fur coats and world goes on with animals still killing anyone crossing their paths regardless what the self appointed spokespeople do.

  • Ian

    Perhaps what people are in a tizzy about are that they felt they were being lied to. I can understand feeling betrayed, especially if comments alluding to the fact that these photos were meat were deleted by VegNews. Everyone hates a coverup. Would everyone be upset if there was a disclaimer at the beginning of the magazine? Is this because “this IS a pipe” was implied?

    That said, if people value VegNews, maybe they wouldn’t mind paying an extra dollar an issue in order for them to have funds to take their own vegan photos. Maybe Joshua can cast some light on this…does it really cost a lot to take some high quality photos? Some blogs post some pretty awesome looking dishes.

  • dwveg

    This is not about the photos for me,it’s about deleting a reader’s comments-several times-then calling him “mean-spirited”.That’s the behavior that disappoints me most.Does anyone else care about that?Does anyone have a reasonable explanation to justify those actions?That’s the point that a lot of people seem to be missing.I loved VN,and I might still if they fix this (with something better than that letter).I don’t want them to go under,but I didn’t want to be lied to,either.This is their own doing,don’t blame the readers that are rightly angry.Again,it’s not the photos,it’s their other actions that I’m disappointed in.Now I’m done,this is the last I’ll say about it.Let’s move on.

    • Anonymous

      exactly. the ball is in VN’s court.

  • b_girl2000

    This is perfect. Look at Quarry Girl’s comment. It’s like a stubborn child refusing to admit they were wrong. I now have a theory that she’s not vegan at all and trying to break apart our movement from the inside. (In a world where life is a movie, of course.) But seriously, this was very counterproductive to our cause and every time I posted THIS VIEW exactly (on various forums) I was told that I didn’t really care about the animals, that I resented my veganism and to go preach elsewhere. I thought we were better than that. Better than all of this. Thank you for posting this.

    • Anonymous

      riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. let’s get this straight: a “vegan” company publishes pictures of meat regularly in both their online and print publication (which is ADVERTISED AS VEGAN) that many vegans pay for. i point out on a blog (which i run for free, and makes NO money) that they are using real meat in the photos, and suddenly i’m the bad guy?

      do you think just because we are a niche group, companies should be able to lie and deceive people under the guise of “helping the cause”? who does that really help? if you think vegnews is “helping animals” by photoshopping bones out of dead carcasses, you are dillusional.

      don’t forget, vegnews is a BUSINESS. they make money off of every subscription. obviously that’s their main concern, otherwise they’d bother to use vegan photography. don’t get mad at me because i expose the truth about something. i’ve done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING other than point out that vegnews lies and uses meat. i have gained nothing from this.

      any result of this hysteria should be attributed to vegnews, because they are the ones who lied and created this mess in the first place.

      if you think vegans should shut their mouths when they see injustice, and not report on stuff that may “hurt the cause,” you’re going against the core of what makes veganism right: the truth.

  • Lotte

    I do think that mental stimulation on useless subjects is SO important

  • Julie G

    We are all free to criticize vegan companies. We are free to criticize anyone. But we–the vegan community– have to be really careful about how we allocate our time and energy. We shouldn’t be spending too much time fighting our allies, when the enemy is in fact a much much bigger priority. We are still outnumbered, and we must not lose sight of just how massive this undertaking is. We are, I assume, all working towards a vegan world? Well then let’s not forget that VegNews has made great strides towards bringing veganism to the mainstream. There are still many many people in this country who don’t even know what the word “vegan” means. And here is VegNews, on the newstand alongside popular magazines like Oprah, inviting people to leaf through it and quite possibly discover veganism right then and there. That is a huge accomplishment. And it’s the kind of accomplishment that is tangibly helping animals. And that’s what we have to focus on as activists– how do we tangibly, constructively help animals? Today, right now.

  • Veganfavorites

    I think VegNews has done amazing things for veganism. That said, I had 2 problems with the photos. 1. I chose to subscribe to VegNews because I thought it was the one place I could put my money that I knew I wasn’t buying into any animal cruelty. Unfortunately that is not the case. Since they are buying meat photos, it’s the trickle down effect. 2. The stock agency they predominantly use requires the stock angency name and photographers name as credit on photos bought from them. VegNews never has a photo credit on the stock photos. As a photographer (not of the food variety), if it was a photo I took, I would be upset about that.
    If VegNews had a disclaimer at the front of the magazine saying that the photos were not neccesarily the depiction of the recipe, and that they may be animal products photoshopped, I wouldn’t be upset b/c they were being upfront, and I could make my choice based on that. I also think you can’t compare the airbrushing of a model with the removal of animal products in a vegan magazine. It’s very different ethics. I don’t wish for VegNews to go under at all, we need that voice. I just want it to be an honest one.

    • Veganfavorites

      I also think it helps animals by not contributing to people that take images of their dead carcasses. Again, trickle down effect. The photographers that buy the meat for those photographs profit from the sales of the photos, so they can go buy more meat to photograph. I don’t photograph meaty food (or buy those photos) for the same reason I don’t eat them or wear them.
      I also agree that negative mainstream media take away from the cause, so hopefully they rectify it. Stop using the photos, and people will stop negatively discussing VegNews.
      While I see your point about the semiotics of imagery, this more about the ethics of unwittingly contributing to a cause you don’t believe in, then images themselves.

      • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

        Based on your own logic, I’d assume you never shop at any supermarkets that also sell meat or dairy? If so, the money could trickle down and be used to market more meat and sell more meat – and I am sure this has a much broader effect than the Stock Photo industry.

        Do you see what I’m saying?

        • Veganfavorites

          I totally get that logic. But I know up front when I go to a grocery store some of my money could be used for that. When I started subscribing to VegNews I thought all my money was being used for good (and most of it is) but some of it isn’t and I just wish I knew it upfront. Then I could make an informed decision. That’s all.

  • Minkcoat

    I look like a rat. I am Joshua. I’ve pretended another ugly hag seeking publicity, Chlo Jo is my girlfriend but our parent sit shiva for us. I am about as discernign as the dog poop in my hipster Brooklyn street. I am a fake.

  • Pingback: VegNews Magazine Using Stock Photos of Meat Dishes | The Sound of the Noising Machine

  • karoumy

    I’m not sure if you’re trying to downplay the importance of symbolism to humans. I hope not.

    The pipe painting makes such a strong point because symbols are so important to the human brain that the line is blurred between the symbol and the object it represents.

    • http://twitter.com/DiscerningBrute Joshua Katcher

      Karoumy, that is completely my point. It is understandable why we respond to symbols so strongly, they are powerful! But it’s crucial to remember that the symbol is not the object, and symbols are subject to context. Perhaps activist’s energy would be better used actually helping animals than attacking other activists in the pursuit of unobtainable puritanism.

  • TreeDrummer

    The first rule of media is that you don’t undermine the trust which forms the core of your connection to your audience. Sure, media like Fox News can get away with it because they tell the lies that their audience wants to hear. Thankfully, the vegan audience is interested in truth and fact, because that is the greatest strength we have as a movement. The moment we start going to extreme lengths to excuse deception within our own ranks is the moment we sacrifice the high ground we have worked so hard to maintain.

    • http://twitter.com/DiscerningBrute Joshua Katcher

      Anything that consolidates, specializes, or contextualizes reality is deceptive. Media itself is deceptive. Words are deceptive. That’s why this whole debacle is just ridiculous.

    • Anonymous

      exactly. i love that JK keeps defending lies….probably because he has a monetary/ego investment in VN.

      • http://twitter.com/havegonevegan havegonevegan

        But could you please answer his question? How does this help or hurt animals?

      • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

        Making wild insinuations about money in an effort to avoid my questions is not the most refined form of discourse…

        For the record, any work or writing I’ve ever done for Veg News has been pro-bono. I don’t get one penny from them.

        Please enlighten us by answering the simple questions I listed above,

      • Gaprimack

        jesus! going after josh k for “defending lies” and insinuating that he must have an evil investment to feel the way he does? he has been nothing but measured, rational, and entirely CORRECT in his every comment here.

        but the fact is–and i’m talking now to josh and all other rational, true animal-lovers out there–you can’t reason with crazy. so just stop trying and go back to doing the good you do for animals by going after the real villains instead of vegnews.

  • http://www.plantmade.me plantmade

    While the photo of the meat burger is not the actual meat burger, it’s still a photo for which subscribers are paying (and from which VegNews is profiting) that all started with an animal being killed, and thus goes against everything that VegNews purports to believe in and against what readers stand for.

    Then there’s that whole thing about how it’s usually a good idea to have photos of an actual end-product that a recipe is meant to create. That part is just common sense.

    • Anonymous

      exactly.

      • http://twitter.com/DiscerningBrute Joshua Katcher

        If anyone can explain to me how the time and energy we’ve spent discussing this “investigation” actually helps animals – if anyone can explain to me how attempting to destroy a vegan owned and operated, independent publication that has done more to bring veganism to the mainstream for over a decade than any of us, helps animals – if anyone can explain to me how making this issue scandal-worthy, promotes veganism – I will be delighted. And then I’ll challenge you to run an independent magazine with the same breadth and reach and mass appeal that is 100% earnest and vegan (good luck using paper, ink, and electronics containing coltan) in an economic climate that has publications folding left and right.

        I have found myself using this quote entirely too often lately.
        “We have met the enemy and he is us” – Walt Kelly

        Let’s say the critics get what they want and VegNews goes under. How does this help animals or bring veganism to the mainstream? One less publication not buying stock images that contain photo-shopped dead-animals subverted to promote veganism? That will have profound effects..where exactly? Talk about an inability to consider leverage or weigh cost/benefit.

        But being constructive, empathetic or rational is not what this is about. This is about certain people wanting to be right and heard at any cost – even if that cost hurts animals in the big picture. Seeing so many comments like “wow, vegans are the most annoying people ever” on CNN and the NYT pretty much sums up the cost of having something like this made into such a huge issue. Meanwhile, scandals that actually affect animals and deceive the public into consuming something that is not vegan (the recent Urban Outfitters scandal, perhaps?) gets no mention on QuarryGirl’s blog. That should put things into perspective.

        What happened to valuing subversion? Within the context of the magazine, these symbols have been “veganized” – and that is the major failure that the critics don’t see. I only wish we could motivate activists in this same way to do something that is actually constructive or that helps animals. But that’s not as fun or as easy as going after the independent publication who some would rather hang out to dry than help to improve.

        If you want to do something constructive, go make a vegan stock photo library. Go make affordable and high-quality food photos that meet all the specs for VegNews. Go start your own magazine. But since that actually requires time, work and money, isn’t it easier to just hide behind a screen and blindside easy targets who are on our side? Isn’t it easier to write nasty comments and complain without considering the reality of running a publication like this?

        This is so counterproductive it hurts my head, and to those who think that pursuing this is somehow helping to make veganism appealing, I’d argue you’re wrong. For those that are more concerned with their own feelings of deception, I’d argue that you’ve lost sight of ethical veganism as a social justice issue and made your own personal sensitivities more important than helping animals or packaging veganism in a way that actually reaches non-vegan people. For those who are just waking up to the reality that most images used in publications are altered or unrealistic representations of reality, I am sorry that this has been your introduction to the world of magazines and media.

        I understand that people feel deceived – in an ideal world, there wouldn’t even be the need for VegNews magazine – but let’s not pretend this has anything to do with helping animals or promoting veganism when it’s simply a gang-mentality, purity-pissing-contest.

        • Anonymous

          just because people are vegan or own a “vegan business” doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable for their deceptive behavior. vegnews has lied to its customers, they are unapologetic, and they have no integrity.

          i will spend my money elsewhere. there are plenty of vegan businesses that have earned my support, and vegnews is definitely not one of them. people deserve transparency, and vegnews has made a mockery of the vegan community. the fault lies with them, not with the people who want the truth.

          • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

            You’re avoiding the point, though. How does this help or hurt animals? Is that even a concern of yours?

            If transparency in media is your concern, is VegNews the right place to channel all this energy? Do you really see them as enemy #1 on this front? I can think of a hundred other media outlets who actually do harm to animals.

            I understand the grievance, but in the big picture, I can’t help but see this as a giant tactical mistake that is not helping animals in any way whatsoever and that is

            I’d love to hear you thoughts on this.

            • Anonymous

              I don’t know what you want me to say. you are relentless, insisting that i’m somehow hurting animals by exposing a company who is lying. what I did didn’t help any animals directly, but in the long run i did something good for veganism. vegnews won’t go out of business…they will probably clean up their act and stop paying for pictures of dead flesh. everybody wins.

              okay, so you don’t have a monetary investment in vegnews…but you obviously have some kind of special relationship with them that’s causing you to spend all this time defending them for lying.

              if you don’t feel I’ve “answered your questions,” then I don’t know that I ever can. I know what i did was right, and even vegan companies should be held accountable for their actions. by writing this post, you’re just fueling the fire and causing more fighting. how is that helping animals?! couldn’t you have been doing something more productive to help animals, rather than writing this?

              • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

                That’s all we wanted to know, quarrygirl, “what I did didn’t help any animals directly….”

                What is veganism if it’s not helping animals to the best of our abilities?

                Being that it doesn’t help animals, wasn’t there a much more strategic way of handling the information you discovered without using scandal-hype at which national media outlets that are already super-critical of veganism could scoff? I just don’t know if you thought this through… and were sort of blinded by the potential attention this scandal would garner.

                Some good MUST come out of this situation, otherwise we’ve all failed. In the end, I actually agree with with the essence of the grievance that’s been filed, that VegNews would be a better publication for using high-quality images of actual vegan food as opposed to any stock images at all. But let’s help them get there is a constructive way. I just think the approach you took was messy, and do not think heavily stylized, photo-shopped stock images are anything more than contextualized symbols that have been subverted and “veganized”.

                • Julie G

                  Amen, Joshua! Let’s help VegNews get there, to that place where they only use vegan photography, instead of bashing them and bashing them, in addition to bashing other amazing vegan activists who have made it their LIFE to defend animals. I, for one, am currently directing my energy towards ways of furthering our movement, rather than bashing other vegan companies. Creating a vegan photo stock company–now there’s an idea worth investing precious time, energy and strategic thinking into. Let’s turn this situation into a positive one. Perhaps this could be an amazing opportunity to create something new and amazing that will take veganism to the next level.

                • Anonymous

                  welp, thanks to all this there’s a vegan stock photography website in the works. let’s hope some good comes of it, and vegnews cleans up their act. that would be awesome.

                • IntegrityIsTheNameoftheGame

                  Wait, so your saying anything that “doesn’t helps animals directly” is neither vegan or good? Are you saying that VegNews the magazine helps animals *directly*? I’m not sure how. Are you saying that the controversial expose VegNews wrote on the (vegan) Supreme Master *directly* helped animals? I’m not sure how you could say that. So you must be saying a controversial expose is cool so long as it’s contained inside the pages of VegNews and written about someone other than them? Seriously? I thought hypocrisy like this was something we left to the world of non-vegans.

                  You didn’t like the story as you viewed it from your perspective. I thought the story was necessary and that Quarry Girl was brave and correct in bringing it forward. My contempt for VegNews grew with each minute *they* refused to acknowledge what they did was wrong. I’ve done their job. I’ve purchased stock photography. I’ve had my photos printed without a credit. Going into this story, I knew more about VegNews than a lot of other folks and I knew there were reasons to be disturbed by the actions of its leaders. Had Joe & Colleen put the issue to bed with an acknowledgment and an apology when it happened, I wouldn’t have been able to read all the other ugly bits of info that were clearly just waiting for the chance to be unburdened from so many vegan chests. VegNews in their arrogant inaction created the circumstance through which I came to lose all respect for them.

                  You don’t have to try hard to find the comments from a former editor who said she was let go from VegNews after she complained about what she called the “standard practice” of using dead animal pics. (Integrity much, Joe and Colleen?) You don’t have to try hard to find comments from vegan photographers that tried to shoot for them but were turned away. In fact, the editor mentioned above said she gave a disk full of images of vegan food. They used some without a photo credit (again, integrity, anyone?) and ignored the rest. As this controversy unfolded it was revealed VegNews does not pay its contributors. This brings up two issues, um, INTEGRITY!, and their claims about tight budgets prohibiting them from buying vegan imagery. Where does the money go if not to pay the people writing the content for the magazine? Of course, all the food bloggers taking tons of gorgeous pics of the *vegan* food they prepare and style have been all over this issue from the beginning refuting the spurious claims that it’s a financial impossibility.

                  Ultimately, Joshua, your assertion that unless it directly helps animals it shouldn’t be done is just plain ludicrous.

                  Oh and your belief that dead animals—birthed, rasied, and killed for food—being prepared for pretty pictures that are the sold for money over and over again are simply “heavily stylized, photo-shopped stock images…contextualized symbols…subverted and “veganized” is wholly offensive. I am an expert photoshop user. Nothing I ever do in photoshop is going to make a dead animal carcass into seitan ribs as Joe so ignorantly proclaimed post-apology on NPR. The idea that many non-photographers, non-designers, and non-consumers of stock photography want to put forward about food in stock not even being food is false.

                  Those are DEAD ANIMALS in the pages of VegNews magazine! Plain and simple, the very, very, VERY least I expect from my vegan magazine is a publication TOTALLY FREE from images of animal death and suffering. I honestly thought this was a no-brainer. The fact that this issue spawned an entire group of VEGAN people that wanted to chastise other vegans for saying they were hurt and felt betrayed, and blame them instead of the culprits, and even worse, DEFEND the culprits and their offensive, lazy, deceitful actions is utterly, UTTERLY, mind-boggling to me.

                  In my opinion, you defenders of VegNews were the biggest embarassment in this mess. Ultimately (insincerely, but still, ultimately) VegNews validated the complaints of all their readers and consumers by changing their policy. I at least, am abundantly clear on the fact that Vegnews in no way validated their own defense or any of their defender’s positions when they capitulated, said “We screwed up”, and changed their photo policy. Thank you Quarry Girl for delivering the issue to the vegan consumers of the world so they could decide what they want to support and/or what they want to push for change. You, QG, ARE AN INVESTIGATIVE HERO!

              • foranimals

                Trust me, a “special relationship” with VegNews is completely unnecessary to completely agree with everything Joshua is saying. As an advocate for animals, I’m disgusted by this. I have no “special relationship”, and there are many of us with this same opinion – compassionate vegans who advocate for animals and put their ego last and their desire to end suffering first. This could’ve been settled privately and you know that. You’ve added fuel to the fire of our detractors. You may ignore this or reply with some defensive comeback, but for what it’s worth, I know many vegans who have withdrawn any and all support for you. You have also lost my personal respect. You are a detriment to a noble movement spearheaded by compassionate activists with noble intentions. Don’t call yourself one of us, because you damn well aren’t.

              • Katherinecricket

                What you’ve done hurts animals. It makes vegans look crazy. I’m not saying you are crazy, and I’m sure you’re a good person and intelligent and all that. But this has not been helpful for the vegan community.

          • Anonymous

            Joshua has a good point… Why DIDN’T you mention the Urban Outfitters controversy on your blog? Why are you so dead set on attacking vegan companies instead of exposing something legitimately harmful like that?

            Your blog is way more harmful than helpful to the vegan community, I honestly have to wonder if QuarryGirl.com is offering a parody of veganism rather than legitimate information on living a vegan lifestyle.

        • Anonymous

          exactly.

          • Megan

            I thought you didn’t have a strong opinion about this issue, Meganrascal?

            • Anonymous

              My opinion, Megan, was that it’s not a big deal. After reading everyone’s comments, my opinion is that you, Megan, are batshit crazy and hell bent on making vegans look ridiculous to the rest of the world.

        • Katherinecricket

          I couldn’t have put it better. You are brilliant.

        • Heroes of Self-Deception

          (4/19 I know this is resolved for the better, but I wrote up my response a couple days ago and I’ll post it anyway because I think it’s relevant beyond the scope of this topic.)

          4/17
          “If anyone can explain to me how the time and energy we’ve spent discussing this “investigation” actually helps animals – “

          It makes veganism not seem like a joke. Veganism needs integrity, it’s not a means to an end, it is the means.

          “if anyone can explain to me how attempting to destroy a vegan owned and operated, independent publication that has done more to bring veganism to the mainstream for over a decade than any of us, helps animals –“

          No one is attempting to destroy anything; people want to make VegNews better. Vegans want VegNew to represent their values.

          “if anyone can explain to me how making this issue scandal-worthy, promotes veganism – I will be delighted. “

          The issue is already scandal worthy and VegNews know it, no one is “making it” a scanal.

          “And then I’ll challenge you to run an independent magazine with the same breadth and reach and mass appeal that is 100% earnest and vegan (good luck using paper, ink, and electronics containing coltan) in an economic climate that has publications folding left and right. “

          Irrelevant. Also, no one expects a magazine publication not to hurt anything, trees are cut to make paper, delivery vans with animal products in the wheels drive and kill insects, etc, this is understood as regrettable but acceptable among vegans – practical and possible, right. Meat is not acceptable nor are photos of meat.

          “I have found myself using this quote entirely too often lately.
          ‘We have met the enemy and he is us’ – Walt Kelly”

          Agreed, VegNews is making a poor display of veganism and not respecting their core subscribers.

          “He who undervalues himself* is justly undervalued by others.”
          William Hazlitt
          *This goes for both VegNews and the vegan community is represents.

          “Fix the problem, not the blame.”
          Japanese Proverb

          “Let’s say the critics get what they want and VegNews goes under. “

          That’s not the only option here.

          “How does this help animals or bring veganism to the mainstream? One less publication not buying stock images that contain photo-shopped dead-animals subverted to promote veganism? That will have profound effects..where exactly? Talk about an inability to consider leverage or weigh cost/benefit. “

          “But being constructive, empathetic or rational is not what this is about. This is about certain people wanting to be right and heard at any cost – even if that cost hurts animals in the big picture. “

          This is the big picture. Meat photos in a vegan publication hurts veganism, thereby hurts animals. Don’t be upset because some vegans pointed the incriminating pictures out, it would have been pointed out eventually by enemies of veganism. VegNews may change for the better and thrive or it may collapse, but that hardly matters because veganism will still be around and it will continue to grow; magazines come and go.
          Veganism, a “fad” since 1944 (really an ancient concept and practice if you know your vegetarian history.) VegNews a publication that may or maynot be around in five years.

          “Seeing so many comments like “wow, vegans are the most annoying people ever” on CNN and the NYT pretty much sums up the cost of having something like this made into such a huge issue. “

          Wow, idiotic comments made against vegans in a news comment section, I’ve never seen that before! Veganism has cultural competitors (even from the cultural norm itself) and it’s a good thing this story was broken on a vegan blog and not one some blog that has it in for vegans and animal ethics.

          It is not being “made” into a huge issue. It is a huge issue because photos of chopped up animals have no place in a vegan magazine unless it’s an exposé on a slaughterhouse. It’s important because people feel that it is important, it’s not just some inflated media scoop on Fox News. If no one cared about QuarryGirl’s post, it would have drifted away quietly, but vegans are responding and VegNews has a choice to make.

          This is how social change is done. Sure, magazine photos aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of life, but it’s a small change to implement and people are pressuring a business to make that change. This is the same exact thing vegan activists do to get more vegan options in a cafeteria, or some small animal welfare standard to pass. Everyone tells vegans, “Oh, it’s not a big deal, oh it’s too expensive to change, oh aren’t there more important things to worry about, oh it’s not an ideal world.”

          This “scandal” is what positive change looks like. It’s beautiful! This is exactly what VegNews gave QuarryGirl and award for.

          “Meanwhile, scandals that actually affect animals and deceive the public into consuming something that is not vegan (the recent Urban Outfitters scandal, perhaps?) gets no mention on QuarryGirl’s blog. That should put things into perspective. “

          This argument that there are more important things so STFU and go help a staving child somewhere is a really stupid argument and is the same type of arguments leveled at animal activists in general.

          “What happened to valuing subversion? “

          The only subversion was played against the vegan community and no, I don’t value that. It’s like idiots that try to slip some animal products into a vegan’s meal.

          “Within the context of the magazine, these symbols have been “veganized” – and that is the major failure that the critics don’t see. I only wish we could motivate activists in this same way to do something that is actually constructive or that helps animals. But that’s not as fun or as easy as going after the independent publication who some would rather hang out to dry than help to improve. “

          You do your thing and let other people do their thing, but stop pretending that vegans are exempt from criticism from other vegans. We absolutely need to police our own community, if we don’t, someone else will and it will be far uglier.

          “If you want to do something constructive, go make a vegan stock photo library. Go make affordable and high-quality food photos that meet all the specs for VegNews. Go start your own magazine. But since that actually requires time, work and money, isn’t it easier to just hide behind a screen and blindside easy targets who are on our side? Isn’t it easier to write nasty comments and complain without considering the reality of running a publication like this? “

          I get it, it’s okay to criticize what other vegans are doing so long as you get to do the criticizing, it’s not okay for any other vegans to criticize each other. Got it. Great way to help animals by telling other vegans what they should or shouldn’t criticize.

          “This is so counterproductive it hurts my head, and to those who think that pursuing this is somehow helping to make veganism appealing, I’d argue you’re wrong. For those that are more concerned with their own feelings of deception, I’d argue that you’ve lost sight of ethical veganism as a social justice issue and made your own personal sensitivities more important than helping animals or packaging veganism in a way that actually reaches non-vegan people. “

          Personally I suppose I’m not interested in “packaging” veganism. I’m interested in being the best vegan I can be and encouraging my fellow vegans to be the best they can be as well. Part of that is not having chopped up animal food porn in our magazines. It’s not a big deal. It’s obvious.

          “For those who are just waking up to the reality that most images used in publications are altered or unrealistic representations of reality, I am sorry that this has been your introduction to the world of magazines and media. “

          Other people suck so vegans should too. Not compelling. We may as well eat meat since everyone else does.

          “I understand that people feel deceived – in an ideal world, there wouldn’t even be the need for VegNews magazine – but let’s not pretend this has anything to do with helping animals or promoting veganism when it’s simply a gang-mentality, purity-pissing-contest. “

          “In an ideal world.” Okay, it’s not an ideal world, how are we going to go about creating it? By changing what we do for the better.

          Why is it that when vegans advocate for plain old vanilla veganism it’s automatically a “purity-pissing-contest.” Vegans understand that there all sorts of places in our lives there are sources of animal used and harm, but we do have some fairly basic rules that aren’t all the hard to comprehend. Sure, there are some gray areas, and perhaps stock-photos of meat is one of them, but I think that even a non-vegan would understand the violation of principle here.

          Magritte’s pipe was a painting, an obvious two dimensional illusion in the context of a surrealist. The difference is that photography has a subject. People are sensitive to photography because we grasp (rightly or wrongly) that it usually depicts a moment of captured time, that’s why images of direct atrocities are usually avoided or used very cautiously. You can’t pretend that photography and image don’t have a certain power, the same sort of power that drive agendas that people like Carol Adams explores in th images of meat and women she deconstructs.

          If I had child porn in my possession I’m culpable, it doesn’t matter how I got it, it’s a Bad Thing. Having meat porn in your vegan magazine, again, doesn’t matter how they got it or why, they are culpable and it’s a Bad Thing. Yes, everyone knows (or at least should know that) magazine images are deceptive, even most food isn’t edible, but this sort of deception is above a degree that is tolerable.

          “Do you really see them as enemy #1 on this front? I can think of a hundred other media outlets who actually do harm to animals. “

          But there is a problem with VegNews that you are acknowledging, right, so stop deflecting, “Oh but what about x, y, z?” Okay, but let’s fix something that is fixable. This isn’t insurmountable. Some foodie magazine is not going to substitute fake meat for real meat in their imagery. Some hunting magazine isn’t going to use mockups in their trophy photos, but VegNew absolutely can change their imagining practice and they absolutely should, this should never have been an issue for contention in the first place. And don’t tell us about the million other things in the world that we should be talking about instead of talking about this.

          Hey everyone, there are starving children somewhere in the world why are you not talking about that right now!

          (4/19 P.S. I like this blog and will likely continue to like this blog, but I really disagree with the position offered on this issue. The continued attitude of “Oh what a waste of time.” comes off as sour grapes. You were on the wrong side of history on this one. It’s better to reluctantly concede the positive than to continue to be dismissive.

          I don’t subscribe to VegNews, but I might since they did the right thing and I have an assurance that the food photos will be vegan and representative of what’s being described.

          I personally wasn’t all the bothered by the stock photos, at least not emotionally, but I can easily comprehend how this could be an issue for the vegan community.

          Good for you QuarryGirl. Good for you VegNews for doing the right thing in the end. VegNews really should give her another award.)

          • http://www.plantmade.me plantmade

            Love it. Thank you.

          • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

            Look, before I begin to respond, I want to clarify that what’s done is done… and ultimately we all want to help animals. We are on the same side of this issue, though our tactics may differ. I am thrilled that VegNews will be using photographs of vegan food as a policy. I want VegNews around and on as many news stands and in as many offices and gyms as possible, and understand the critical role it plays in reaching outside of the vegan bubble and appealing aesthetically to mainstream America in a way that most of the vegan community has failed to do before.

            My problem (which I don’t expect everyone to understand or agree with) is the potential damage done to the power and reach VegNews has as a tool for change for non-vegans. It seems to be a trade-off of symbolic-purity over leverage and reach considering the economics of running a magazine. I also understand that I look at VegNews as a tool for change, while other vegans look at it as their own community’s magazine – for them and them alone – so I see where the difference of opinion resides.

            I am not crazy about your use the analogy to child porn- in what case is child porn so disguised and intended to mimic “acceptable”/adult porn that it is hard to tell what the source material is? The point of child porn is that it is obviously children. You have also taken an example of something that is overwhelmingly considered unacceptable by the mainstream, as opposed to eating murdered animals. Again, an ability to consider context plays a major role. If we are going to go to the trouble of modeling vegan foods to be appealing to mainstream palates and be nearly indistinguishable from the foods they mimic, it is only psychologically upsetting to vegans who feel deceived that a murdered animal was passed off as a mimic of itself in an already-existing image. This is symbolically complex. In truth, it is only their perception that is harmed, if the net gain of the magazine helps animals in physical reality by making VegNews appealing and existent to non-vegans.

            It is not the desire to have vegan source material that I have a problem with (Again, I think a vegan stock photo library would be wonderful!) – it is the tactical oversight… the lack of consideration for this in the way QuarryGirl handled the information. We cannot go back and redo it, obviously, but I can’t help but feel eerily alone in this grievance.

            It’s also sort of ironic that you downplay the consequences of this being handled the way it was handled by QuarrygGirl (without care for potential damage to the perception of veganism, thus to animals). The New York Times ran a story today on the cover of the National section based on this debacle. The article says nothing positive of veganism, and instead makes us look quite religious, wanting to bathe in holy water after realizing we sinned unknowingly:

            “Irate vegans took to blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other online forums to vent their fury. Angry at being taken in by the images, one reader commented on the magazine’s Web site how awful it felt “to have craved any of the foods featured here, because now I feel I was craving animals.”

            I must admit that I realize and accept that my opinion is in the minority (a very specific minority), but I strongly stand by it, and believe in the abstraction of symbology within context, without limitation, when the goal is to help animals. The overriding “theme”, if you will, of your responses has more to do with vegan identity and code of behavior than an actual, critical approach to a social justice issue. This is where religious veganism and pragmatic veganism begin to drift apart. Critical thinking and critical tactics are considered unacceptable to religious principles that are based in purity and hope that purity will bring about change in itself – and hope is passive, but allows those interested in maintaining their purity to keep their hands clean.

            You brush over the many calls for VegNews to go out of business with a simple, “No one is attempting to destroy anything” which overlooks the number of people who called for them to close their doors and people to unsubscribe. You claim VegNews acted with malice “The only subversion was played against the vegan community”, which is to claim they have in interest and something to gain from harming animals, and you cite a need to “police” our own community – and I have to say, this was very cop-like, as opposed to a compassionate an thoughtful approach.

            I wish MORE people would use the industry’s aesthetics and images against itself to promote veganism. It seems we are happy to go along when an image of a cow who is disemboweled and hanging upside down is shown to promote veganism (because this shows that meat is bad and we’re not salivating over it), but when a photo of a dead animal is indistinguishable from what it used to be, is used to promote veganism and vegans salivate over it, suddenly the damage done is to the person, not the animal because our trust was violated. I am just clarifying that this is about vegan identity and not animals. People are upset because of what happened to their feelings and desires (not necessarily whether or not this was tactically helpful to appeal to non-vegans given the circumstances and limitations).

            Quarrygirl herself admitted in this very thread that “what I did didn’t help any animals directly…”

            I understand all of your points, and I expect you understand mine.

          • Catahoula

            THANK YOU!

  • http://blog.lagusta.com lagusta

    Thanks for this thoughtful post, Joshua.

  • http://blog.lagusta.com lagusta

    Thanks for a great, thoughtful post, Joshua.

  • Megan

    I wonder if Marshall McLuhan would agree with a media outlet deleting its readers constructive comments, or if he would encourage transparency in media? I also wonder if McLuhan would agree with not crediting photographers for their work. A lesson in plagiarism from a man with a lot of personal experience! (http://www.thediscerningbrute.com/2010/04/16/kfc-grilled-double-down-veganized/)

    If you could dedicate a post to VegNews Magazine that addresses these issues, I’m sure your fans and non-fans would appreciate it. Also, maybe more pageviews for you omg how exciting!

    • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

      Hi Megan! Sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier. I always try to accommodate “non-fans” as often as I can. I was busy doing tons of concept-plagiarizing to help animals (I was about to put up a recipe for vegan cookies even though someone else has already done that! I love feeling naughty) when I clearly should have been surfing the interwebs leaving very helpful comments everywhere – something you might be able to help me learn to do better? This is a good start, no? I’ve got the personal-attack part down, but what next?

      That is a good question for Mr. McLuhan, I do wonder what he’d say to you about that. If transparency in media is your conern, VegNews is certainly the right place to channel that energy, being that they are enemy #1 on this front. Surly with a victory in trasparency over the sinister VegNews, the entire media industry will be next! I think there’s this other place too, Fox News? Vogue Magazine, too.

      One of the advantages to using stock photos is that some are royalty-free and you have the option to not list the photographer – that’s sort of what makes them royalty-free stock photos.

      Here’s to more page-views (OMG!!!) and comments from compassionate people like yourself.

    • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

      Hi Megan! Sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier. I always try to accommodate “non-fans” as often as I can. I was busy doing tons of concept-plagiarizing to help animals (I was about to put up a recipe for vegan cookies even though someone else has already done that! I love feeling naughty) when I clearly should have been surfing the interwebs leaving very helpful comments everywhere – something you might be able to help me learn to do better? This is a good start, no? I’ve got the personal-attack part down, but what next?

      That is a good question for Mr. McLuhan, I do wonder what he’d say to you about that. If transparency in media is your conern, VegNews is certainly the right place to channel that energy, being that they are enemy #1 on this front. Surly with a victory in trasparency over the sinister VegNews, the entire media industry will be next! I think there’s this other place too, Fox News? Vogue Magazine, too.

      One of the advantages to using stock photos is that some are royalty-free and you have the option to not list the photographer – that’s sort of what makes them royalty-free stock photos.

      Here’s to more page-views (OMG!!!) and comments from compassionate people like yourself.

      • Megan

        Okay, so because I like to research the things I’m defending, here’s how it goes. In January, iStock altered its photo policy for editorial content. Yes, there are different types of licensing based on which iStock account one buys, but its very clear about uses for publishing: “Files for Editorial Use Only fall under the Standard License, but have their own restrictions that limit them to non-commercial uses only.” Okay, so with that understood, here is one of its revised prohibitions, “..use the Content for editorial purposes without including the following credit adjacent to the Content or in audio/visual production credits: “©iStockphoto.com/Artist’s Member Name];” All of that info can be found here (http://www.istockphoto.com/license_changes.php) on the company’s website.

        So the photo credit thing can not be defended. Yeah, maybe VegNews didn’t read up on the changes made in early 2011, but hey guess what, that’s its job.

        As a vegan who pays for a subscription, I still argue that it’s also the magazine’s job to print vegan content, or honestly, just be forthcoming with its readership about using pictures of animal flesh, digitally removing animal bones and calling it vegan food. I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I also wouldn’t feel lied to. VegNews is not Fox News, and as a company they have gloated about having more integrity and higher ethical standards (http://vegnews.com/web/articles/page.do?pageId=3120&catId=8) than NewsCorps, the parent company of Fox News. I just feel like, hey, it’s fine if you don’t. But maybe don’t try to have it both ways, and call shenanigans on NewsCorps—not that I agree with that kind of slanted subjective reporting, obviously—and then turn around and use the same tactics, you know? It’s embarrassing, and honestly so unnecessary. I left a comment on this story saying essentially the same thing, but it was deleted.

        At the end of the day, I just expected a lot more from VegNews. I don’t think the magazine is making great change for animals, but I did think it was a positive, fun example of how veganism is, more and more, becoming a mainstream lifestyle. Just a huge fucking bummer that it didn’t believe in vegan food or photographers enough to prevent this sort of international news debacle—remember, all QG was share an existing problem, and look what that’s led to. Me, posting comments here, and also on CNN.com!

        Finally, since we’re bandying about quotes, here’s one of my favorites from McLuhan: “Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness.”