I am not a subscriber to VegNews magazine. I honestly don’t read many periodicals; I get most of my information from books or online resources. I feel like I’m coming at this topic from a objective standpoint. I have no ties or connections to the VegNews magazine, nor did I have anything against them in particular prior to recent events. That said, I do have a few issues to discuss on this topic as it has been such a heated topic of debate in the vegan community. The real question: is it ethical for a vegan magazine to use stock images of meat products and claim that they are vegan “faux” meats? Not only did they claim they were vegan, they photoshopped these images and removed bones, so this is not a simple case of misunderstanding. VegNews knowingly used and manipulated these images for print in their vegan magazine.
As of April 18, 2011, VegNews has officially apologized. You can find their apologyhere if you’d care to read it. Essentially, they’ve stated in their apology that they will no longer use any animal product stock images and that they are committed to using 100% vegan imagery in their publications from now on. I feel like this is a good step, but I have a few other issues that I feel needed to be addressed in their apology if it is to be a sincere and truthful one. First, they need to address the issue of censoring their readers comments, reader’s who found these stock images and confronted VegNews on the issue. They had their comments deleted and were virtually ignored by VegNews until it became a bigger issue and more awareness was raised in the vegan community. Even if you have no problem with a vegan magazine using these images, readers and paying customers should never be censored and should be allowed to voice their opinions, especially when the have irrefutable evidence to support their claims. Any attempts to censor these individuals reflects extremely poorly on VegNews. If they indeed felt they were doing what the had to do, from a financial standpoint as they’ve said, why the secrecy on the issue?
My thoughts are that they knew it was wrong, but didn’t want to deal with the hassle of finding truly vegan imagery. Money shouldn’t have been the issue. I know many vegans who would gladly donate their time and services to help provide imagery for VegNews. Many photographers out there simply would love to have their name printed in the magazine for promotion purposes. Sponsors could also help fund vegan photography, or they could have asked for donations from their loyal readers if things were that tight financially. Being a vegan is never supposed to be about convenience, its about doing what’s right even if that cuts into your profits.
I am glad VegNews has admitted fault, and that goes a long with me. Does that mean I support what they do? Of course I do, but with slight hesitation. Trust takes a long time to earn back after its been broken. VegNews has made the first step, which is great. If they have truly changed their policies and admit their faults, then I’m sure the vegan community can forgive and move on from this crisis. We are a minority and need to band together; vegans fighting against vegans is never constructive or good for the cause. We are all here to learn, make mistakes, and grow in this ethical lifestyle choice. The vegan community is full of diversity, but all of us, including VegNews, needs to remember what the purpose of being a vegan is; veganism is about the abolishment of using all animal products in all areas of our life, and to end animal enslavement and exploitation. Using animal flesh in a vegan magazine does not live up to what being a vegan is about, and I’m glad VegNews can admit that.