Clearing the MeatPhotoGate air! »
Disclaimer: I am a columnist and the editor-at-large for VegNews magazine. I obviously have ties to the magazine and I am proud of my relationship with them. That said, I am not in the office for day-to-day decisions, and other than emailing my advice on how I thought this whole thing should be dealt with, I haven’t talked to them about it. Because I have ties with VegNews, I didn’t want to comment on the situation unless I could be 100 percent honest about my feelings, and I feel I can be now. Yay for expressing feelings! (I say that because I’m a woman.)
When the whole thing surfaced, I have to admit, I was taken aback. I knew that VegNews used stock photos (I mean, I have eyes) and honestly, I didn’t think it was a huge deal. I thought it was industry standard, and dismissed it as that. Bigger things to tackle, etc. Reading a lot of the insightful and brilliant comments on Megan’s post (our readers are the BEST. Even when you’re mad at us, I still love you for being all opinionated and sassy and on it!) and all over the internet, I realize now that I was wrong about the use of stock photos. Although I sympathized with VegNews' initial response, I knew when I read it that it wasn't the apology and commitment to change that people needed to hear. I think it’s understandable that VegNews responded the way they did because when you’re the target of an exposé!!!-style post like that, your natural inclination is to defend yourself. They’re human, just like all of us. I know I’ve said stuff here on Vegansaurus that was not right, and been called out, and had to eat shit and promise to be and do better.
But I’m telling you, I did not come around immediately! As it stands now, I’m super-stoked about their sincere apology and I’m ready to move on with them to become an even better and radder magazine. There are incredible, passionate people who work at VegNews—some of the best vegans (and people!) I know—and I would honestly say that even if I didn’t have ties. Hell, I wouldn’t be involved with them if I didn’t think that! Life is too short to half-ass it, know what I’m sayin’?? So, now you know what’s up with me, because my opinions are very important and that’s why I blog! Also, for the occasional free sample of candy. That is also why I blog!
But before I can move on, there are a few things I would like to clear up as a self-appointed MeatGate Scandal Expert (you love it) (maybe). A lot of information and misinformation has been going around and it’s hard to know who to listen to. Different authorities in the vegan community took different stances and I think that’s good and everyone should have their say. Now normally, your girl (that’s me!) doesn’t like to talk smack on other vegans—ex-vegans, bring it on! but vegans, not so much. But when someone is exploiting a situation and spreading misinformation, I gotta start flapping my gums. That’s why I want to address Erik Marcus’ whole reaction over on Vegan.com. I was disappointed and a little freaked out by how he handled things. He’s posted 10 times on this issue. For real, 10 TIMES. AS OF YET. To put this in perspective: Quarrygirl, the blog that “broke” the story, posted TWICE. Marcus? TEN TIMES. I mean, I guess it’s a break from his incessant blogging and reblogging of Jamie “save America’s fat kids via organic skinless chicken breasts!” Oliver and Mark “not vegan but okay we love him too” Bittman, but jeezus louiseus!
I’d like to respond to a few of the things he said. As someone who is involved with VegNews, I know some things the general public does not (read: I’m fancy), and so I thought it would be helpful to clear up some of Marcus’ not quite-truths and frankly kinda-crazy statements. Fun! Here goes:
In the beginning, Marcus was dropping bombs like:
I should offer some analysis: with the exception of the New Yorker, the Economist, and a handful of other periodicals, most magazines suck.
That should read, “With the exception of a handful of white-male-dominated magazines that I read when Mark Bittman tweets about them, all magazines suck, because I am an expert on magazines!” Did a magazine kill his mom? Really, it’s just bizarre and snobbish.
It’s the same kind of sociopathic know-you’re-gonna-get-caught-but-do-it-anyway behavior you would expect from a Ted Haggard, a Larry Craig, or a Bernie Madoff.
He just compared VegNews to BERNIE MADOFF. I’m sorry, WHAT? No, they are still a vegan magazine with a dedicated vegan staff, who are doing a lot for the cause. They are not sociopaths swindling people out of their life savings. Some perspective, please.
But enough about VegNews. Niche lifestyle magazines are for chumps who still think it’s the 1990s. They’re filled with ads for overpriced supplements and yuppie doohickeys, and the editorial content is typically assembled by short-timers who don’t give a shit.
Just a cheap, weird blow. Niche lifestyle magazines are actually doing pretty OK right now, and I’d love to know where he gets his intelligence. And this is rich: FILLED WITH ADS for OVERPRICED SUPPLEMENTS. All Vegan.com does is push supplements so Marcus can make money off the site! It’s called RUNNING A BUSINESS. As for the bit about “short-timers who don’t give a shit”, many of the contributors to VegNews are people Marcus links to all the time, including Mat Thomas and Mark Hawthorne. It’s clear to me he hasn’t read the magazine in a long time (maybe ever?). He later states that VegNews doesn’t pay its writers, and I know that to be untrue. I feel like he’s been holding onto some grudge toward VegNews for eons and saw this as the time to unleash his bottled up anger. Kinda like when you have all these things you want to say to your mom and then one day you just burn her house down? Kinda like that. And what really sucks about the whole thing is many of his posts could have just been sent to the editors at VegNews. As he was on the advisory board, he could have advised them a bit instead of posting 10 times. There’s something to be said for getting two sides to a story, too.
VegNews has always had the chance to leverage strong editorial judgment to bring you the very best of the vegan world, but they consistently squander that opportunity and instead give you lowest-common denominator crap like wedding issues, celebrity fluff, and popularity contest awards.
Again, he obviously hasn’t read VegNews in awhile (or ever), because they have some of the strongest, hardest-hitting reporting on vegan issues out there! Just a few that come to mind are Mark Hawthorne’s excellent “Injustice for All” piece on the human cost of factory farming, Marla Rose’s plastics exposé, Mat Thomas’ piece on food recalls, and “The Price of Free Speech” by Will Potter. Yeah, total fluff. Marcus also gripes about how their content isn’t available for free online. Again, they’re a business, and never claimed otherwise! If he’s as concerned about the trees as he says he is, they offer a tree-free edition. Also, they provide updated blog posts on their website every day. Honestly, about as many as Marcus does, with the added bonus of no begging-for-money posts. I get it, I make a little money off of Vegansaurus (roughly 25 cents a post, no joke) but I never attacked anyone else for trying to earn a living. Plus, he gripes about their celebrity coverage and writes about Jessica Simpson and Natalie Portman on the regular! I mean, so do we but we love that that shit and don’t claim otherwise! Methinks he’s upset he never won any of the popularity contests. :(
A post-mortem on this mess and its favorable conclusion: QuarryGirl and I—as well as everyone else pushing VegNews to do the right thing—got a lot of criticism for our efforts this week.
Uh, dude. Don’t count yourself in with Quarrygirl. They had the balls to BREAK the story and do not have a relationship with VegNews. Up until the day of the scandal, Marcus was on VegNews' advisory board. He needs to stop taking credit for something he didn’t do. I also enjoy that he refers to Quarrygirl as she, when it was Mr. Meaner, another writer on the site, who broke the story. It’s a website, dude, it’s not a “she.” I mean, if Marcus thinks he’s in the trenches with QG doing god’s work, he should at least come correct. Another difference between Quarrygirl and Vegan.com? Quarrygirl allows comments, whereas Vegan.com does not. Ironic that he should run his mouth about VegNews' commenting policy and not leave himself open to deal with public response. Uh, I guess you can comment on his Facebook page if you have an account and want to give him more “likes.”
It’s clear to me that Marcus has a bone to pick with the publication for whatever reason. Maybe it didn’t want to go to the prom with him? Tears!
I totally understand the need for everyone to talk about this publicly and to sort out their feelings. People need to be heard, changes needed to be made, and ultimately, it’ll make VegNews and the vegan community even stronger. And that’s exciting! Let’s take veganism to the Next Level, and I know VegNews will be there making the movement look pretty and smart. Now that this thing has been done to death,* I’m excited to put my energy into pushing forward the movement, too!** Of course, I had to get a word in on all this shiz because DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS FOR ME TO KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT!? I swear, I developed hemorrhoids from the strain. LAURA! GROSS! What? You wanted to know how I feel, and now you know! Now, who wants to get drunk and talk about kittens? Holler at your girl!
*Those of you who asked for my contribution, THIS IS YOUR FAULT. You know I’m one wordy bitch with THINGS! to SAY! Did someone say something about getting drunk? Because YES PLEASE.
**Like, check out these vegan geniuses who are already launching a vegan stock photo site! It’s the same geniuses behind Food for Lovers vegan queso, that Texas-style cheesy wonder food we love! Here’s to vegans coming up with solutions and making that shit happen. To you, I raise my plate of MEGA NACHOS and my Tofutti Cutie (breakfast!) because you’re rad!
Epilogue to this long-ass post because I know you’d like to hear more from me: Marcus is still at it! Just today, Marcus blogged about Nikki Bennoit getting arrested for leafletting at a community college and then goes on to basically bag on community colleges for being less than “real” colleges. Yuck. Way to make all vegans look like snob elitist jerks.
What do vegans get from a vegan/omnivore alliance? »
Tom Philpott has proposed a vegan/omnivore alliance against animal factories (VOAAF. I know, it’s missing an A. And I think “V O triple-A F” sounds cool). Read the piece, tell me your reactions. I believe it’s very well intentioned so I wanted to like it but it just left me thinking, “WTF do I get out of it?” Philpott says if 99 percent of meat is produced on factory farms and these “conscious” meat-eaters oppose this meat, “then vegans and omnivores agree on 99 percent of the meat issue.” That’s just not true, is it? While I definitely want better treatment for animals in farms, I formally object to animals being exploited by humans—that objection makes up more than 1 percent of my beliefs.
Besides this math issue, the main problem I have is believing these conscious meat-eaters really never eat factory farm meat. A vegan at the baseball stadium will not get a pork hotdog just because a vegan one isn’t available—will these meat-eaters do the same? Would they forgo the traditional baseball day hotdog simply because the meat comes from a factory farm?
Philpott wants vegans to put aside the majority of our beliefs (it’s not just 1 percent) but what is he asking the omnivore faction to do? It’s not like Grist is running tons of articles encouraging people to not eat meat (or really anything positive about veganism, check out their articles!). When they address food issues, it’s more just, “EAT MEAT! But just this kind!” I believe we need to be encouraging the whole world to EAT LESS MEAT, period. Also, what’s more exclusionary: asking people to eat more inexpensive veggies, beans, and grains, or telling them to make sure that their dead animals come from the 1 percent that’s up to Philpott’s standards?
In the end, I do want better treatment for animals and factory farms make me sick so I would support these more thoughtful omnivores. It would really be a great thing if meat-, egg- and dairy-eaters were to forgo all factory farm products—but is that what Philpott and the like are promising? The way it sounds now, Philpott wants us to take two steps back and the omnivores to just, what? Keep on with the same? If he could get a bunch of meat-/dairy-/egg-eaters to completely swear off all factory farm products, then I would definitely be interested in the alliance. It’s not so hard—we vegans already do it.
UPDATE!: As Laura reminded me, if Philpott does intend to include vegans, how come not one vegan advocate was listed in the post? I am excited to learn more about this and participate in it but I’m not interested in a meeting of the minds where I do all the meeting.
That’s Natalie Portman, in a piece on Huffington Post. In her review of the book, she finally answers the question of whether she’s vegan or not and the answer is: she’s vegan now, bitches!! Anyway, that’s not the main takeaway from her review, which is good and you should read it. Vegan.com also has a terrific review up too. We’ll have one up on Vegansaurus soon because it’s truly an excellent book but the point is, should you even try once you’ve been scooped by Padme Amidala*?!?
*That’s for all the fanboys out there! What what! Next week i’ll work in Claire from Heroes, I just have to Google a bunch of shit first I mean I KNOW THAT ALL OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.