Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Thanks?

Update, 8/2: Thank you all for your votes and comments. You are all so thoughtful and eloquent, I recommend that everyone who reads this post makes sure to read the comments as well, for a fuller sense of the discussion than I alone could convey.

Like a lot of vegans, I have a love-hate relationship with Vegetarian Times magazine. On the one hand, it is a sleek and informative magazine with a fair number of vegan recipes in each issue. On the other hand, they sometimes do the craziest things- like not realize that the yogurt parfaits from McDonald's have gelatin in them, or encouraging the use of chemical sugar substitutes like Splenda. (Don't even get me started on that one...) For a more eloquent critique of VT, read this post by LindyLoo.

I just received the last VT of my subscription (a subscription I didn't really pay for, but got for free for sending in a bunch of soy yogurt lids) and read a seemingly innocuous letter to the editor that nevertheless managed to boil my blood. Daiku claims I'm overreacting. I decided to let you, my dear even-handed readers, decide.

Here's the letter:

"I am not a vegetarian, but I recently subscribed to VT. Let me just say that I love it. Who else but vegetarians would know how to make such wonderful vegetable side dishes? Thanks!"
- (name) via email


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28 comments:

jenny said...

I think that VT is a mass-media magazine - people at my work bring me in recipes from VT and they are not even vegetarian. It's obviously meant to appeal to the greatest amount of people, and is not geared toward vegans or even vegetarians, really.

I think that recent demise of Satya proves that magazines solely focused on vegans isn't financially viable (unfortunately!!!!).

jenny said...

BTW I voted for #2. :)

urban vegan said...

All I can say is "grrrrr!" What really irks me is that they actually printed that letter. Duh.

I rarely even look at VT anymore. It's always the same old thing. But I guess it's good for the newbies out there.

I miss Satya. Herbivore isn't doing much better.

Kaydee said...

Did the writer mean vegetarian food is a side dish, or did the writer mean he/she is using the magazine to find side dishes? I can't tell, so I'm neutral.

Although it annoys me that a nonveg is reading the magazine. Maybe I'm worried Veg Times will notice that and start adding chicken recipes or something. Now who's overreacting? :)

Village Vegan said...

I took the comment to mean that the reader found nice vegetable side-dish recipes in the magazine, but you never know!

Johanna3 said...

vote#2!!

runswithdog said...

What? *looks around* Satya is gone? Where the heck have I been? As far as VT goes? I have the same reaction to that as I do when people tell me Moosewood is their favorite vegetarian restaurant.....give me a break. Now I am off to sit shiva for Satya

VeggieGirl said...

I voted for #2, because unfortunately there are a lot of ignorant people out there who don't realize that their comments are somewhat offensive (as displayed in this letter about the side dishes).

urban vegan said...

I HAD to come back to tell you that about 2 hours after I commented, I got a junk mail offer from VT--2 years for $11.

I guess everyone has their price. $11for 24 issues might just be mine! *laugh*

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

Fun poll, Bazu! Perhaps the magazine will provide more than just side dish recipes -- like convincing articles to go veg. It could happen! :)

Bridget said...

I voted for number #2, because he/she just is clearly clueless and sadly points out what many people think about a vegetarian diet. It is very frustrating.

SusanV said...

I'm going to go in a completely different direction: I think it was a slam on mainstream (non-veg) magazines and cooks, saying that they don't really know how to cook vegetables. But then to think that all we cook is vegetables is insulting...so I'm in the middle. I can't figure out why VT printed this one!

Chris said...

I'm with you on the love/hate VT thing. We subscribed a long time ago then gave it up because it became not at all vegan-friendly. But we just started subscribing again after getting the same offer that urban vegan mentions (though urban vegan - it's actually only 12 issues because it's only published 6x/year now). They definitely have some decent vegan recipes (and others that can easily be veganized) but still, it is a mainstream magazine that tries to appeal to everyone.

As for the letter, it mainly irritates me that they published it at all - my guess is it's not an intentional slam.

Vincent Guihan said...

I voted for 2 -- I was very heavily torn, though. The AR vegan part of me said, unintentional, but the writer should be sent to the coal mines regardless. The diplomat part of me said unintentional, complimentary (even if backhanded), and vegans should foster/encourage the serving of any dish that contains no animal products.

But I also agree with SusanV. Truth is, most people who are not veg*n really don't know how to get the most flavour out of vegetables (and other plant-based foods). They really don't understand that you don't need meat to address the center of the plate.

I still have relatives that ask (after my being vegan for 8 years, my blog full of vegan cooking, not to mention the dozens of other vegan cooking blogs), so what do you eat? It's a mental block.

laura jesser said...

Interesting! I wouldn't say this "boiled my blood" but I see what you mean... It does bother me when people assume that vegetarians are the only people who need know anything about vegetables, and comments like that always manage to ruffle me. But then I usually tell myself to take it as a compliment--in some way, they are acknowledging that our diet is healthier than theirs and that they could learn something from us.

I tell you what--I look forward to the day when veg*nism is the norm and we don't have to worry about things like this!

Selina said...

I voted: Yes, but that is probably unintentional and the reader didn't realize that her compliment is a back-handed one.

It does kinda annoy me. I think people who aren't Vegetarians or Vegans don't get that a MAIN DISH can be veghetarian. Probably because they just haven't experienced it yet. Their loss I guess! :)

KleoPatra said...

i voted for No. 2, that it was probably unintentional...

It's so interesting that you wrote about VT as i just in my mailbox today got a note "PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL" to renew my subscription (which, like you, i'd also gotten free somehow... can't even remember exactly HOW!) for just $11 for two years, and i was thinking pretty much the same things you (and LindyLoo!) have touched upon.

i have problems w/that mag to be sure... but it's better than other non-veg food mags for sure!

Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said...

funny, i found myself bristle a bit at that very same comment...then i remembered who i was as a vegetarian a year ago and how one's perspective can drastically change when armed with knowledge that one typically has to seek out in our culture as it is not widely taught or conveyed.

I find, the longer I'm vegan, the more I harbor a disdain for VT. I understand their desire to reach a broader audience but i think it's that very thing that irks me so much. why does veganism alienate so many non vegans? i am two seconds away from writing VT that letter. you know the one, the one that poses the question, "how is it that you can consistantly take the position that the usage of nonhuman animals for human consumption is cruel while continually promoting recipes that include dairy and eggs, both industries which blatantly harm the animals within them".

i suppose we all evolve in our own way and in along our own timeline, certainly there is no one right way to live, but i guess i just expect more from those who have such a large voice. i expect clear conviction, not muddy representation of a very important issue in attempts to reach more people. shouldn't their message be braver than that?

thanks for bringing this up. (and your food all looks FAB, too! ;)

Vegan_Noodle said...

I voted for number 2 as well. I often don't understand VT. Everytime I get it in the mail, I flip to the back to see what recipes are vegan. Then, as I browse through, I see so many recipes that could be easily veganized!! I don't understand why they don't make more of an effort there. Like making a recipe with butter and just leaving it off-limits to those crazy vegans!! How disappointing. But, as others have said, there's not many other options out there for us vegan foodies...

vko said...

I don't think I've ever read a VT- Satya on the otherhand- sad sad sad- that I will miss.

I think this ignorant omnivore's letter was just ignorance without malice, but I voted two because I don't think you are over-reacting. Don't get me started on over-reacting- everytime I read something in Ideal Bite (website)about one of the staffmembers who are ex-vegan makes me mad.

Village Mama said...

I actually feel sorry for the person who wrote the letter because it sounds like such a dumb thing to say.

Anonymous said...

I voted #2 because I felt they were attempting to be positive, but instead came out sounding dumb, however not intentionally malicious at all. BTW, I actually read the new issue and was severely dissapointed. I mean telling readers how to blanch and saute and which spices to have in your kitched, i.e. pepper, herb blend, curry, etc? Are you kidding me?! VT got a new editor and this issue appears even more mainstream than the previous issues. They do try to appeal to a large audience, but this issue was pretty vanilla with recipes that were not inventive at all, which is the only reason I bought the magazine. Ok..sorry to go off on that tangent, but thought I would I would share my thoughts :-)

Vivacious Vegan said...

I voted #2. I don't subscribe to VT because I have contempt for their hypocracy.

dreamy said...

I thought it was a positive comment at first lol until I read it over the second time.. I voted neutral

Vanessa said...

I agree with SusanV and Anonymous 6:58 - I'm happy when anyone starts realizing the beauty of veggies, or even the satisfaction of cooking for themselves. What if the writer has only cooked oven-bake fries before? (don't laugh, I know people like this!)
However, VT should not have published the letter because it's insensitive to those who take pride in creating hearty, yummy meals without a meat "centerpiece."

Anonymous said...

No offense to anyone, but some of the bloggers who left comments have blogged about using recipes from VT magazine. I just subscribed to this darn magazine because I read vegan blogs about recipes that were adapted from VT, and how good they were! If you have a problem with VT then don't blog about making recipes from the magazine.

KathyF said...

First of all, VT is responsible for my becoming vegetarian way back when. I was leaning that way, and found the support I needed in the pages of that magazine. (This was pre-internet.) So I'll forever be grateful.

Second, here in the UK there are no vegetarian magazines. Once or twice a year BBC Good Food prints a vegetarian special magazine, in which about 98% of the recipes are not vegan. (I counted once!) So you guys in the US are incredibly lucky to have a magazine that speaks to your needs, with good recipes and helpful articles, and at a low price at that.

Lastly, I saw that letter as being a supportive one from a non-veg, of which most of us were at one point. I like nothing better than having non-veg readers come to my site, and realize that being a vegetarian is not so onerous. Those side dishes are perfectly capable of becoming main dishes. Isn't that how many of us started, eating the sides and leaving the chicken alone?

My only problem (beef!) with VT is that they started including wine recommendations. This is a waste of space, imo. Who goes out and searches for the perfect bottle of wine for a meal? We just open what we have!

SaraJane said...

I remember a few years ago there was a discussion printed in VT about them possibly starting to include chicken and fish recipes in the magazine. I think that their rationality was that they have such a high percentage of omnivores as readers. But wth... those people are obviously reading VT and not Gourmet or Bon Appetit because they want some healthy veg*n recipes. I'm still infuriated when I think about that (I wish I could remember exactly which issue it was) and to be honest, I'm a bit worried that things are heading in that direction.

VT has been publishing increasingly more and more recipes that have eggs and cheese as a main ingredient, not just a topping or a small part of the recipe. I for one, stopped subscribing. I get so many great recipes just from reading all of the fabulous vegan blogs out there, not to mention great forums like the ones at ThePPK and such. I'll take my meal without the hypocrisy and ignorance, please.