Tag Archives: controversy

Faux Meat Faux Pas

Don’t let the title turn you off .

Whether you eat meat, veggies or lead chips from your flaking bathroom wall, you can weigh in on this one. It involves meat and deception ensues…

There is some controversy stirring in the world of VegNews, a magazine that calls itself  the "premier magazine to focus on a vegetarian lifestyle.” No, it’s not about the ethics of eating meat or not, but rather about the ethics of the publication itself. And actually, the editorial integrity of any publication.

It seems the magazine’s fake meat photos were actually pictures of real meat.

I saw the story on Slashfood, and I’ll summarize in case you don’t want to read the whole thing. If you really have no patience, there’s a question at the bottom.


It turns out VegNews has been using real meat photos to accompany its recipes, as a vegan blogger," “QuarryGirl,” discovered and documented. She’s posted several examples of stock photography of meat dishes in which VegNews has used as an image of a vegan dish (she was quite the investigative reporter, I must say.)

The "Vegan Spare Ribs" recipe used a photo of actual meat ribs, with the bones photoshopped out, and a picture for Seitan Stew was actually an iStockphoto titled "Chicken Breast Soup." Other examples include hot dogs with actual meat and macaroni and cheese with actual cheese.

There were a lot of examples and absolutely no doubt about the scam—it was totally blatant.

A former VegNews intern commented that everyone on the VegNews staff was fully aware of the “meat and dairy photo policy,” and a former copy editor echoed backed that statement up.

Slashsfood ends the piece by saying that the VegNews Facebook page has a slew of disappointed commenters as well, some of which are claiming that their comments are getting deleted and that the magazine hasn’t commented yet on its photo policy.

My Two Cents

As a vegetarian, I wasn’t offended by the fact that real meat was used. Hell, I didn’t have to eat it or anything. But as an editor and (sometimes) reader of the magazine, I was offended that this hypocrisy now called all credibility and editorial integrity of VegNews—and magazines in general— into question.

If there were dishonest enough to use meat in the pictures—something ethically offensive to most of their their readers—what could be trusted? To publish a recipe and then include a (stock) photo of something that isn’t even the real finished product is lazy, irresponsible and ridiculous.

I don’t think I need to argue that point, and I won’t be reading in the future.

But then I started a little debate in my head. How is this really different than the mass amounts of photoshopping, airbrushing, etc. that happens 99.9 percent of the time in other magazines.

“Stars Without Makeup” sections of magazines should really be called “stars wearing a crapload of makeup in neutral tones.” Heads are put on different bodies, things are cropped out and enhanced— with a few exceptions, close to nothing that’s published is an accurate portrayal of what someone “famous” looks like.

The only sticking point with my argument there was that meat is offensive to most VegNews readers, and the magazine didn’t respect that or it’s readers enough to be honest and responsible with their product. They were deliberate in their actions over and over.

As an editor and a reader myself, I can’t imagine ever being okay with that. 

I couldn’t be.

So, where do you come out on the Faux Meat Faux Pas specifically or in editorial integrity in general?

Is this situation similar to that of celebrities in magazines? Completely different?  Would it matter if it were just online and not in print?

Time to share…