Tag Archives: debate

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…

Up For Debate

I personally don’t read magazines like “Marie Claire,” but this article and all it’s ensuing controversy about the “Big Six Healthy Bloggers” was sent to me this morning. I have included the link to the story and also another blogger’s Letter to the Editor in response (one of many.) In addition, each of the bloggers mentioned issued a response on their own blogs.

I have my own feelings on the subject, but I want to know what you think before I go spouting off on one of my usual rants. While it may take a few minutes to read, I think it could lead to some insightful debate.

On a completely unrelated note, one of my freelance features for a local magazine made the cover. Even though I publish a dozen features each month for my job, this made me ridiculously happy for some reason. Anyway, there is no link to the story, but it was about local bakeries so the picture is yummy. No debate about that.

Yay for bakeries!

Now go read the first article and leave me some thoughts in the comments…


FYI: I think I’ll make these a regular feature for purely selfish reasons in that a) I have many random thoughts  and b) I love your additions in the comments. They make my day.

Anyway, here is where I turn off all those readers. I need to ramble incoherently, so buckle up.

I’ve recently become obsessed with “Obsessed,” and the irony of that fact isn’t lost on me. While I in no way deny that I have food issues, I also acknowledge the fact that I’ve had OCD long before it turned into an eating disorder (I would say as early as six or seven years old.)

Anyway, I was “professionally” diagnosed with OCD about five years ago, but was always sent to ED treatment centers due to the fact that my obsessions and compulsions manifest in food and exercise. I’m underweight, and my behaviors, compulsions are rather maladaptive ways to deal with anxiety.

Simple as that, except it isn’t.

If you’ve ever watched the show, you have an idea of how seemingly illogical routines, rituals and compulsions are the only ways some people can even touch on any semblance of normality. Most of the time they’re so deeply ingrained that being a productive member of society and carrying on personal and professional obligations becomes impossible, as anything and everything revolves around the obsessions and compulsions. It’s a mental illness with biological roots, but it’s also often developed as a defense mechanism in response to a traumatic event or situation. It’s not a choice, as the thoughts take over and you feel there are no options or defense against your thoughts.

It’s a mental illness, and it stinks.

“Talk” therapy doesn’t work for me. I know what my issues are, I have a pretty clear picture of how I feel, I have no self-love/body issues and I don’t think that I’m fat. When I feel the need to exercise, it’s not to lose weight. When I feel the need to restrict, it’s not to drop a dress size. Talking about things doesn’t really help, as I need to expose myself to the anxiety-inducing experiences and challenge the thoughts that tell me these routines have to be followed, that I have to do them to feel calm.

Why am I bringing this up?

Good question, (and I’m not sure), but I think it’s in part because lately it seems to me that my indifference towards so many blogs has to do with the fact that I am kind of viewing them through a splintered lens. To be honest, I think there are  different factions of people with eating disorders. Just like OCD, eating disorders are a mental illness, something that I think many people are hesitant to admit.

There obviously is no right or wrong, there is just different, so don’t bite my head off yet.


One group’s actions are truly motivated by a desire to fulfill some idea physical image they feel they need to attain for happiness or acceptance. For some people, I think it really is about the food on some basic level. Yes, they use it as a tool to manipulate their figure and their thoughts, but once they eat and restore the weight, they are seemingly “fine” over time. I’m not making light of it at all, but it’s almost as if it’s a deadly phase they eventually pass through.

All the focus goes towards food, because if it is about the food and looks, then eating more is the simple answer. There is less of a stigma. It’s a tangible act they can engage in to change their physical appearance, with a side of therapy to build self-love.


For the other group, I think the development of the disorder is more deeply biologically rooted and motivated from a genuine place of anxiety over things completely unrelated to food, weight and body image. They acknowledge that the disease has everything to do with control, routines, etc. and that the mental aspect of it is the be-all and end-all of the issue.

It has nothing to do with looks or physical beauty, but everything to do with feeling restricted in their choices for no other reason than they are obsessed with finding some sort of contentment, some sort of peace from their racing thoughts. Simply put, it’s an entirely internal struggle that’s often revealed externally. The food becomes directly involved because it is one of the only things that can be completely controlled and predictable. Numbers are tangible, numbers and routines can be used to neatly classify things into tidy groups of solid evidence.

The food and/or exercise are simply one way to try and regain control, as many of these people also have other areas in their lives where they are either restrictive, impulsive or obsessive.

On “Obsessed, the patients logically know that what they’re doing is illogical, but they feel powerless against their thoughts. I can relate to this 100 times more than any ED group, book, blog or video. For me, I feel I HAVE to exercise at times, I HAVE to eat a certain way, etc. or else things go nuts in my mind and I can’t focus on anything else. I know the world won’t end, but I don’t want the discomfort–physical and mental–and I don’t want to be stuck feeling I made the wrong decision.

No, it’s not a worry about my weight or looks, but rather a worry about discomfort and chaos in my head. I want to feel clean, neat and tidy. Even though I know an extra snack here or there won’t “taint” me, it still feels unnatural in the same way that I feel anxiety when someone walks in my house with their shoes on, the toilet paper roll is put on wrong or I can’t do the dishes right away.


My point is that there is so much chatter out there about what constitutes health and what constitutes disorder, when in all actuality, we all deal with our issues in different ways. I can in no way relate to those people that see food as the enemy, that are driven by a desire to look a certain way. I know there are people out there than can in no way relate to my issues, and I don’t expect them to.

Regardless of why or how you struggle from any mental illness, I do think that relative “recovery” is entirely possible. However, I believe that in most instances, it’s  impossible to just eat and think that any deeper mental issue is fed and has now disappeared.

Eating disorders are real. OCD is real. Depression is real. Sometimes they overlap, and sometimes there’s no connection.

While food/body image may be the root of the evil for some, for others it’s simply a branch on a very tangled tree. Only by exposing themselves to the anxiety head-on and learning to sit with the discomfort—learning that there are alternative actions to take without their world falling apart—can they begin to recover.

Like I said, there is no right, no wrong, but only where you are right now—and we’re all in different places. Now I just need to figure out how to get on “Obsessed” for my own hour…

We will return to lighter topics in the next post…

It’s a pretzel, people

I’m rather self-aware. In fact, I’m probably hyper self-aware to the point that I tend to overanalyze things I think or do instead of just accepting them as what they are. However, one thing I don’t think I am is hypersensitive, something that seems to be an epidemic sweeping the nation.

I will preface this by saying that I’m not easily offended and generally hold the belief that I am responsible for my own decisions—how I choose to view things, interpret things or do things. I understand it’s not that way for everybody and I keep that in mind, but some things border on ridiculous to me.

The latest example is this.

While I agree that the message is in bad taste, I also think for people with food “issues,” many things can be taken out of context and twisted to feel like a personal attack. People are generally rather insensitive to the issues of others—food, weight or otherwise—only because “people like them” see things very differently than “people like us.”

Any and everything we say can be interpreted into something else if we think about it for a few minutes. The fact remains that some people are hypersensitive to issues that would most likely be “non-issues” if simply left alone.

I find it hard to believe that a young woman will be suddenly flung into the depths of despair and self loathing by a pretzel advertisement.

In comparison, there are obvious, blatant statements and horrendous media coverage that I agree are completely offensive and wrong, such as Kate Moss stating that, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I can see the obvious backlash for such an ignorant comment.

But a pretzel?

I’ll wrap this up by saying that I’ve often expressed my own frustration about the stereotypes and misconceptions associated with eating disorders, and of course I would love to educate the world about them and the sensitivity needed for those who suffer. However, with things like this, I think it might be a bit of hypersensitivity that makes it a bigger deal than it is.

There will always be people who are ignorant to the struggles of others. I’ll never know what issues someone of African American descent or a homosexual male face, just as they’ll never know the struggles that I face. We would like to redesign the world to be free of inappropriate comments and ads, talk about food, things being “gay” and anything else that might be a “trigger,” but that’s not reality.

So I guess there is a certain level of personal responsibility to realize this is “life” and to use the coping skills, self-talk and support people have to not take everything personally, to realize not everything is a personal attack on whatever weakness one perceives they have.

Yes, the pretzel ad was in bad taste, but I hardly think there was enough malicious intent to spark such an outrage. If it was an ad for clothing with a female model and a similar tagline, I would understand.

It was a pretzel, people.

Feel free to tell me if I’m totally off base with this. Am I being insensitive by not really seeing what all the hoopla is about or is our nation becoming oversensitive to everything?

Were you suddenly flung into the depths of despair and self loathing by a pretzel advertisement? If you don’t have food “issues” of your own, would any of these thoughts even crossed your mind?

I really don’t think it’s a big deal, but I’m curious as to your opinions.