Vegan Lifestyle Magazine: 'We Screwed Up' VegNews is a lifestyle magazine dedicated to vegan living. The magazine came under fire when it was revealed that some of the stock photos used in the magazine were not meat free or dairy free. Michele Norris speaks with Joseph Connelly, publisher of VegNews, about the fallout — and what their readers can expect to see from VegNews moving forward.

Vegan Lifestyle Magazine: 'We Screwed Up'

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VegNews is a popular publication for vegan living. The magazine is chock full of recipes like vegan spareribs and savory stews that hue to the principles of vegan life: no meat, no dairy, no eggs and, for many people, no exceptions.

W: Joseph Connelly is the publisher of VegNews magazine, and he joins us now. Mr. Connelly, who pointed out this problem?

JOSEPH CONNELLY: It was an anonymous blogger who fashions herself to doing investigative work, and she posted a blog entry about this, I think, last Wednesday night.

NORRIS: How did you get the news?

CONNELLY: Originally, somebody emailed me that night and I have to admit I didn't think it was that serious. I thought it was almost like a late April Fool's joke.

NORRIS: When you first heard about this, as you say, you thought it was a joke. Did you have any idea that this would turn into sort of a national story?

CONNELLY: Not any idea. I'm still in disbelief.

NORRIS: Why were you using stock photos?

CONNELLY: So, I mean, this is not new. It's just that we obviously have to elevate our standards and change our policy, and that's what we're going to do looking forward.

NORRIS: And they say it's hard to buy your explanation that this might have been a mistake because it looks like these ribs had been PhotoShopped, that someone had removed the bones to make them look more vegan.

CONNELLY: That is the one instance that anything like that's happened. It happened, I think, two years ago. The photo, it was an 11th-hour decision, when we couldn't get a photo, and we made a mistake. We admitted it, we should not have PhotoShopped the ribs out of those seitan steaks, which is what we were trying to portray, which is - the ribs are made of seitan.

NORRIS: And for our listeners who might not be familiar with seitan, seitan is?

CONNELLY: Seitan is a meat analog made out of wheat protein, and it mimics the texture of meat, and you spice it up, and you get some really tasty ribs out of it without the bone.

NORRIS: A simple question: Why don't you take your own photos? I mean, there are lots of blogs, some run by people who take photos in their home kitchens, and they post them, and they look pretty good.

CONNELLY: We absolutely do not have the ability to food-style. So that's why we've put a call out to our supporters, and we're going to assemble a stock photo site of vegan images as part of this and hopefully make them available not just for our use but for, you know, NPR's use if they'd like to - you know, if you vegan burger...

NORRIS: Good to know.

CONNELLY: Yeah, you'll be able to get a vegan burger, a photo of a vegan burger. Or you can get a vegan burger and eat one, save a cow.

NORRIS: Joseph Connelly is the publisher of VegNews magazine. He joined us from San Francisco via Skype. Mr. Connelly, thanks so much.

CONNELLY: Thank you for having us.

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