Food is not porn

Yesterday I wrote a blog post that got a HUGE amount of attention.

I posted about a new vegan pop-up cake business set to launch in east London called Vegan Sweet Porn. The photos were beyond impressive, almost to the point of looking too good to be true.

Well, guess what? It was too good to be true. It was pointed out to me by several readers that not only did the photos not belong to the business that sent them to me, the food in the photos was not even vegan.

This is certainly the worst possible start for a vegan food business. DO NOT send non-vegan food photos to a vegan blog, especially if you have stolen the photos from someone else. It is the wrong thing to do on multiple levels. People spend countless hours baking and photographing food. It is immensely unethical to use these photos without permission in an attempt to further your own business.

In addition, I was contacted by another reader named Yellow Dot Vegan who wanted to share some thoughts about how Vegan Sweet Porn uses pornography and sexualisation of food as a marketing tool.

I have been considering a blog post about the hyper-sexualisation of vegan food and the use of #veganfoodporn for a while now, but I’m more than happy to share this space with a reader who has expressed similar concerns.

You can can read Yellow Dot Vegan’s concerns and observations right now:

I have been thinking a lot over the past few days about how veganism and feminism sit alongside each other.

The East London pop-up SweetVeganPorn has caused quite a storm by using sexualised language to describe food (and using uncredited food photos from other blogs for promotion). When it was pointed out, the owner of the business was unwilling to see how the use of the term ‘porn’ and the sexualisation of food with comments like ‘please don’t go on like you ain’t just came in your pants’ would be alienating to many woman.

A number of women reached out to the owner via social media to explain how they were deeply uncomfortable with pornography terminology being used to sell food and that a business called VeganSweetPorn (no matter if the food is plant based) feels hostile to them. The response from the business owner was a lack of understanding, frustration, anger, plus a clear statement that ‘sex sells’.

Yes, sex does sell and there is no denying that many businesses have exploited women to sell their products.

The online argument continued with the business owner expressing the opinion that feminism isn’t relevant to veganism and therefore shouldn’t be used to critique a vegan business.

But veganism does align closely with feminism. It is about reducing the suffering of all animals (including females) and ensuring we fight against ill treatment and injustice.

Personally, I can’t understand how you can be a feminist and not be a vegan, but that is a matter for another time. Not all feminists agree on the damage that pornography does to women, but many do and there is a substantial amount of literature available that echoes this view. Regardless of the principles at play here, surely any business wanting to break into an industry of largely ‘ethical’ consumers needs to think carefully about the terminology they use to sell products? Even if they don’t care about being inclusive, they at least would want to appeal to the widest market possible.

Luckily, east London is awash with delicious vegan cake including two fantastic local vegan bakers tickling our taste buds without subjecting us to pornography terminology and the sexualisation of food. Tegan the Vegan & Heart of Cake provide us with treats on a weekly basis. You can find more details on Tegan on Facebook and Heart of Cake online and Instagram. Rest assured that ALL photos on these pages are of vegan food!

VBF-TWCover

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Written by fatgayvegan

7 Comments
  1. Well the photo issue is one thing but the rest seems a bit overdone and PC cant. There isn’t a one size fits all feminism and not all feminists subscribe to the Andrea Dworkin school of humourless life denying over prescriptive twaddle. Never heard of pro-porn sex positive feminism? Perhaps I should be picketing my local called “love juice”? The term “food porn” has common currency.

    • Well, we all have different triggers and it’s beneficial to share different viewpoints in the hope we can all consider each other that little bit more before we speak or write. As for the phrase ‘Andrea Dworkin school of humourless life denying over prescriptive twaddle’, I think you could have certainly been more considerate before posting that. The issue I see with this situation is a man telling women they are wrong to make links between feminism and veganism, also explaining to them that sexualisation of food is an important marketing tool that cancels out their concerns. That’s a bit shit, right?

      • 100 likes to that response!

      • Absolutely agree with you fgv. it is not ok for a privileged person so say what is ok for an oppressed person. I.e. For a man to say that when a woman talks about her opinion of oppression of women, the man cannot then go on to say that the woman is being over the top. Wouldn’t it be better to engage in a conversation?

    • Hi Jonathan, just because something has common currency, does that make it morally right or acceptable?

  2. Thank you for this post. I also really admire that you provide the views of other people as said by other people. It’s sad that the business was falsely posting ‘vegan’ pictures and it’s also sad that the owner couldn’t see be sexualisation of food and what’s wrong with that.

    A good book on this topic is The Pornography of Meat by Carol J Adams

  3. I am 100% against using stock photos for advertising food. Especially, in this case, when those photos aren’t potentially even vegan.

    However, I am not totally sold on their being an issue with using the noun “porn” to describe something that is depicted sensually (ie a photo of a dish) to arouse quick intense reaction (in this case hunger say).

    Reddit for some time has had https://www.reddit.com/r/veganfoodporn/ which I innocently enjoy from time to time. They also have https://www.reddit.com/r/earthporn/ where thousands of contributors post amazing landscape photos and imagery from around the world.

    English is a fast moving language and evolves. Twenty years ago I would never have considered “sick” might mean the same thing as “wicked” or “cool”.

    I really feel veganism is much bigger than feminism, After all, “being a feminist” does not imply “being a vegan” and I would go so far to say that most feminists aren’t even vegan. Now, I would perhaps agree there are more female vegans than male ones but I would attribute that to something else.

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