A blogger called Quarrygirl was shocked and disheartened. On the header of her blog she has the phrase, "meat is murder," which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about her eating philosophy.
So imagine her surprise when she discovered that VegNews, the premiere magazine about all things vegan, used stock images of real meat to accompany pieces on everything from vegan spareribs to "soul-satisfying" vegan stew. Vegans, just to be clear, are people who don't eat any animal products — that includes eggs and milk.
Quarrygirl matched up pictures from the magazine to pictures on iStock.com, a website that sells royalty-free images. This one, she writes, appears to have have had the bones photoshopped out:
The spareribs as they appear on VegNews.
The spareribs as they appear on VegNews. quarrygirl
The spare ribs as they appear on iStockphoto.com.
On her website, Quarrygirl posted several more, including a couple of comparing the pictures printed in the magazine to those on iStock.
"This is a very sad day," Quarrygirl wrote, arguing that this practice calls into question the publication's "editorial integrity:"
Finally, how does this harm animals? Well, not directly – I mean, cows, pigs, chickens and who knows what else were clearly killed as part of the chain of events that led to the photo, but the laziness and outright lack of respect from Veg News toward animals and vegans undermines everything we stand for.
Animal suffering is prolonged and made worse enough by hypocritical meat eaters who never want to see inside the slaughterhouse just as it is by people in our community who deceive and lie. The devil within is much worse than the devil outside.
VegNews, which boasts a readership of 210,000, released a statement explaining that because it would be too expensive to photograph every dish themselves, they sometimes resort to stock images that "may or may not be vegan." They add:
In those rare times that we use an image that isn't vegan, our entire (vegan) staff weighs in on whether or not it's appropriate. It is industry standard to use stock photography in magazines—and, sadly, there are very few specifically vegan images offered by stock companies.
The Awl, which is how how we stumbled on this story, puts the media scandal into humorous metaphor:
Can you imagine the betrayal? It's a little like Out putting straight people on the cover. (Oh, wait, they do that all the time.) It'd be like Forbes putting poor people on the cover! Or Tikkun profiling David Duke! Or Time choosing someone interesting! (Kidding!) But seriously, if I were a vegan, I'd be really totally skeeved out.
Update at 1:52 p.m. ET: NPR's wonderful Linda Holmes has her take on this news at Monkey See.