Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Skeptic's Review of VegNew's Veg Marketplace

Reading VegNews is always an adventure. There's usually some good recipes, factual articles, and items that can genuinely be called news, mixed in with welfarism, woo, and other assorted wackiness. It's just the right mix that fascinates me. I'm often appalled but can't stop reading it. Today I'm going to examine a part of the magazine that is a good representation of the woo side of things: Veg Marketplace. If you've got the September/October 2011 issue handy, get it ready and follow along.

This issue does have a lot of yummy looking recipes...

We start off in the food section and the first thing that jumps out of course is 'organic'. I count 6 of the 28 food advertisements and 2 of the 4 restaurants using the term. Now, it is not exactly woo, but if I've got a choice between a non-toxic synthetic fertilizer and using manure, I'm going the non-organic route. Loads more could be said on the subject; it boils down though to the old appeal to nature which I will write about in the future. I'm sure we could have a jolly time arguing about the merits, or lack thereof, of organic farming and labeling, but what should get all vegans riled up is the inclusion of an advertisement for Frey Vineyards. While the wine they produce can be called vegan, the term 'biodynamic' in the advertisement should be sending up red flags for anyone familiar with it. I encourage you to read the linked article at Skeptical Vegan, but what you should know at the least is that biodynamic farming expressly calls for animal use. I can grin and bear it knowing that most of my vegetables are not even close to be produced with all plant inputs, but that's a symptom of our long history of animal use. It's not good, but I'm fairly confident that animal inputs will naturally disappear as we humans stop our animal usage. I find it repugnant though when farmers are actually proud about that use of animals when they should darn well know better. You advertise your wine as vegan and then go on to write glibly about using animals to run your farm?! Talk about moral schizophrenia!

Moving on. There are advertisements for raw and gluten-free foods (thanks again Skeptical Vegan for saving me the trouble of writing on those topics!). I eat raw food, but just because it happens to be good raw. I also eat cooked food, because lots of stuff is more nutritious when cooked, it's delicious, I get more variety, and cooking is fun and all-around awesome. Advertising that foods are gluten-free is certainly good for those that have genuine trouble with gluten, but I suspect the gluten-free rice company may just be looking to make money off of the people who have become convinced that gluten equates to poison. Jicko Foods stands out of the crowd by advertising itself as raw, no soy, no gluten, no nuts. The website goes on with "No soy, no nuts, no gluten, no refined sugars to drain your energy level." Um, okay. I am no nutritional or thermodynamic expert, but I'm pretty sure those things actual contain calories that would confer energy to a person's body.

There's a juicer that produces "living" juice. There's also a restaurant that sells "living" foods. I quite like fresh food. Fresh lettuce is quite a bit better than the wilted kind. However, the distinction I make in my food choices is whether it has come from an animal or not. I don't much ponder whether my fresh squeezed orange juice is "living" or not. They should be calling it 'fresh', but that won't sell to a certain crowd. Mix it in with terms like "holistic" and "detoxification" as can be seen at the woo-tastic site for The Living Foods Institute and you've got a real money maker.

You can get a FREE report (a $15.00 value!) that will expose H2O scams! Get the truth about energized and clustered water! Hey, I bet there's a government conspiracy involved! Well, really, it looks like they are just trying really hard to sell water purifiers. It's a very cynical application of woo judging from the rather boring website, but still. Can't we advertise things on their real merits instead of making up crap that no one who understands even the basics of chemistry could possibly believe? But, on the other hand...$$$$$$$

Here's a vegan B&B that will "nourish your body, mind and spirit". Okay, two things here. First, the separation between body and mind is hard enough to define and understand. It's not even clear what benefit we have in making that distinction most of time. Then you want to throw some ill-defined third concept on top of that? I've got my software and my hardware. If I die, I've got some mysterious backup program that copies my software to another location? What? Isn't that just more software? Heck, maybe I've got some crazy offsite NVRAM storing all my experiences. More hardware too then? Who knows? I don't think the B&B operators were expecting a debate on the issue, but I hate it when places casually pander to the belief in the supernatural. Now, the second thing, and this really sets me off--what kind of godless heathen doesn't use the serial comma? It should read "nourish your body, mind, and spirit"! Let's see some clarity in our writing! It's not hard, people!

The last advertisement is for Integrated Medicine. It's got woo up the wazoo, probably literally. Naturopathsacupuncturists, and massage therapists, oh my! It's predictable, but still upsetting that they target vegans with this kind of nonsense. The advertisement asks, "Wish you could go to a vegan medical clinic?" Well, yes actually. I'd like to go to a clinic that completely understood my diet, and in general I prefer to support vegan businesses. A pharmacy that at least didn't put my animal tested medicines in gelcaps would be swell too. However, given the choice between vegan quackery and non-vegan real medicine, I'm going to have to go with being treated at a non-vegan clinic. And that's a real shame.


  1. you expect integrity from Vegnews? :)

  2. I'm glad to see someone else shares my thoughts on the serial comma. Why are people so prone to shun it? WHY???