Want to convince your friends to go vegan? Show them photos of meat and pretend it's vegan -- like VegNews does!

Jeff Nelson, Founder VegSource | 04/14/11

  • digg
  • Delicious
  • Furl
  • reddit
  • blinklist
  • Technorati
  • stumbleupon

Read More: joe connelly, meat, photoshop, vegnews

Get VegSource Alerts Get VegSource Alerts

First Name


Email This Story to a Friend

QuarryGirl -- a fabulous vegan blogger who we on VegSource follow regularly -- has broken an important story.  The story is linked below at the end of my commentary.

The bottom line of the QuarryGirl story is this: For several years VegNews has been Photoshopping photos of meat products and passing them off to their readers as vegan dishes that look and taste like the real thing.  In other words, they've been duping the public.

For example, VegNews ran a large photo of dripping ribs with a quote, "Here at VegNews we devour these savory sauce-covered spare ribs as often as possible!" 

Except the photo is actually a picture of some animal's ribs, and not actually a veg dish.

Let me give a disclaimer now: I have not been a fan of VegNews since the early days. Years ago, they went after me and VegSource in a tabloid, yellow rag, Rupert Murdoch-style attack, totally uncalled for. Especially since I had been very nice to them, helping and doing favors for Joe Connelly, the owner of VegNews, since starting up. I had to hire a lawyer to get Joe to print a retraction of the libelous crap he published about me. Two highly celebrated vegans, friends of both Joe and mine, had written protest letters to VegNews to set straight their position when they had been misquoted or their quotes had been twisted by VegNews -- but as I recall Joe wouldn't run their responses.  He didn't want his readers to know how these two celebrated vegan icons had criticized him and his antics.

Then there was that spurious attack on the Loving Hut restaurant chain a few months ago, where VegNews out and out lied about the group behind Loving Hut.  VegNews' baloney attack on Loving Hut and the assertion it was part of some dangerous cult -- was demolished in a beautiful article by Will Tuttle, linked here.

What was the purpose of attacking the Supreme Master group, and trying to dissuade vegans from supporting the largest chain of vegan restaurants in the world? I don't know, and seriously do not understand why anyone would do that.  I do understand why Joe would refuse to publish Will Tuttle's measured response -- because that would have been fair.

So what does it say about veganism that the self-proclaimed “top vegan magazine” (they do lie, so even that is a questionable claim) has to trick people with photos of animal products to try to make veganism look good?

Actually, it doesn’t say anything bad about veganism. It only reflects on VegNews.

To me, VegNews has proven itself time and again to be an outfit light in the integrity department.

The displeasure of vegans who have been fans and supporters of VegNews is rather pronounced.  Here's a sample of the reaction to VegNews meat photos by readers of the magazine:

Do you know how I found out about this? Two of my non-vegan friends called me laughing wondering if I knew that the delicious "vegan" recipes I am always showing them in your magazine are not vegan at all, but real "juicy hamburgers from cows, smothered with real cheese". They said no wonder the recipes looked so good, they were made with real meat and dairy. I didn't even know how to respond. I feel very betrayed by Vegnews, a magazine I loved and respected.

In response to the furor in the vegan community over learning we've been deceived, VegNews published a lame response, basically saying they're not happy people are talking about this, that it wasn't their fault, the sun was in their eyes, it was their employees' fault, and everything else. 

Even the New York Times has picked up the story, linked here, which also has a link to the VegNews "apology."

VegNews claims they used photos of meat and called them vegan because they couldn't afford to photograph the actual dishes. How believable is that? Just look at Bryanna Clark Grogan's blog, she posts new photos she takes of her dishes several times a week. She has no budget approaching anything like VegNews, gee, how can she possibly do it?

In my experience, Joe Connelly of VegNews is not capable of admitting fault.  Rather than simply take a page from the Hugh Grant school of apology -- "Wow I really messed up, I'm so sorry" -- he basically insulted his readers further by objecting to their right to even discuss this at all.

I guess now I should expect a new VegNews "expose," this time on VegSource about how we're grilling babies and drinking goblets of blood at our annual Healthy Lifestyle Expo.

There are some "news" outlets on TV where I don't trust a thing they report.  There are some magazines which fall into the same category -- and VegNews is one of them.

Now I'm going to do you a favor, Joe.  I'm going to write an apology for you:  "Dear VegNews Readers: It looks like we really messed up here.  I'm so sorry.  It won't happen again.  Please accept my apology.  Sincerely, Joe It-Ain't-Gonna-Happen Connelly."

You can read the full, fascinating QuarryGirl article that uncovered the photo deceit, at this link.


8 Comments | Leave a comment


Thanks, VegSource, for telling it like it is! VegNews has done a real disservice - this series of acts of deception by VegNews makes vegans the laughingstock of meat-eaters, unfortunately.

VetgNews' refusal to apologize about the Loving Hut debacle, and again with this debacle is disturbing, in that both of these are direct attacks on the integrity of our movement to reduce violence and disease. Both are blatant acts of public deception, which is a form of violence. As vegans, we renounce violence. What gives, Joe and VegNews?


Thanks for sharing this Jeff. I never had followed VegNews before and am disappointed that this kind of deception is out there. It's certainly not something our world needs as so many of us work so hard to break through the masses and speak the truth about all the benefits of a plant-based diet.

This makes me really appreciate the sincerity and honesty of VegSource. Your followers deserve the best and they get the best when it comes to this.

Thanks for all your hard work!


Say it ain't so Joe. Say it ain't so!!!


Once every few years VegNews puts out an interesting article, so I never saw what they had to write about The Loving Hut restaurants. I only read second hand accounts of what they wrote on a web board. I started to read Will Tuttle's web site about the issue, but stopped because it seemed to be all about strong emotions, which makes me question a person's credibility. I'm a fence sitter with regards to the issue until I can read something that debates facts.

I stopped reading VegNews long ago because I found it dull. Every few years they publish an interesting article I hear about and can't read because they don't put much online.

If they put such articles online, it might motivate people to buy the magazine to "get more of the same".


VegNews issued a real apology a few days ago...


True, they released an "apology" yesterday. Let me quote my friend, Lisa Karlin's response:

veg news had no choice but to print their apology letter. They got caught with their proverbial pants down and they HAD to respond the way they did. It is obvious to me they are primarily profit motivated at the expense of a message that requires sincerity, commitment, honesty and dedication to this cause. I will never buy another copy if their publication again - at least until those responsible are FIRED. In order to remain ethical, it is necessary to make the hard choice and call a spade a spade.

Joe's apology called their use of the meat photos "symbolic imagery." Excuse me while I laugh.

If Joe didn't already have such a record of deceit, I could probably forgive the guy. But 11 years of lies, backstabbing major vegan authors and nastiness, he's run out of excuses with me. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me several times, I'm not going to accept your apologies anymore.


a) He believes there is no such thing as "bad" publicity -- he's probably reveling in this. b) If there's no money for even a part-time photographer, how did they afford their trip to India? c) I'm shocked, shocked (!) to hear that he's made his magazine "successful" by using deceit and hypocrisy.


I think that QuarryGirl should have simply approached VegNews with the information and given them the opportunity to correct their mistake before going public with it. Mistakes are sometimes made but exposing dumb, simple mistakes only hurts the vegan movement. People will not remember the name VegNews but rather they will remember the action and how it reflects on vegans. I know some people like attention but really, if a dumb mistake is made again and you are privy to the information then just give the 'evildoer' a chance to correct the mistake before going public and damaging the vegan movement, please!

Leave a comment