If you want my autobiography

Somebody posted this line on my Facebook page:

Building up a credible following of people honestly interested in vegan food and news, then using them as a marketing tool ( like many other blogger) : not cool.

This is my response:

I understand that you see it that way but my take on the situation is very different. I have spent countless hours (and still do) promoting veganism, community events and big/small businesses for free.

I have built up two events (Potluck and Vegan Drinks) into some of the biggest monthly vegan events on the planet. I give exposure to campaign groups working to improve outcomes for animals. I also run a business that is connected with veganism. I try to be as transparent as possible about where I make money ie a supper club costs money to attend means I probably make money.

But I also advertise events for other vegan or vegan-friendly people to make money where I don’t see a penny. Your post above seems to question my honesty around my endeavours and I take great insult at that. People are not being hoodwinked by my master plan to work away at my blog for over 2 years and then start sneakily making money off them. I gave up a secure teaching job because my vegan blog and associated activities became too much work. I can’t live on nothing and I don’t think it is unreasonable or devious to try and make money.

I continue to do a lot for the vegan community for nothing and try my best to get free or discounted items for individuals whenever I can. My potluck is a good example. Many of the events feature free vegan food items for attendees to take home and I don’t get paid to organise, collect and distribute these goods. I do not get paid to promote them.

I have spent countless hours organising community socials via meetup (including the LGBT vegan meetup group I met with on the weekend) and go out of my way to make every single person at an event feel included. I don’t get paid for these things. I do this to build social capital and to help people feel secure in their veganism. Your attempt to question my integrity is annoying and upsetting. The money I make from running a vegan PR company is my livelihood and not an exercise in exploiting the goodwill of loyal readers. I don’t think I should do everything related to veganism in my life for no money.

That is my take on the situation.

Written by fatgayvegan

  1. Quite right. You always come across as genuine. I never mind when you promote something to us, and if I did, I’d just not read that post . It wouldn’t offend me.

  2. You’re a great resource not only to vegans in London, but also to the rest of us, and I hope you won’t let stupid comments get to you.

    • That’s nice to hear! I like hearing constructive criticism and encourage it to be public, affording me the chance to respond.

  3. Too many people expect writers to work for free. That’s totally unfair. I think it’s reasonable to be paid for your work. In fact, it’s as it should be.

  4. People are quick to criticize money-making on a blog, but those judgements come from the point of view of those who doesn’t rely on their online presence for income. I am ten years into making an income online and I’m finally done with people who value my time and effort so little. We live in a society where it’s acceptable for a sports personality to make millions a year, yet people find fault with an individual making an ethical go of it themselves to earn just enough to get by. You’re doing a damned good job for the vegan community, and are doing things for no money that people should value far more than they appear to do based on comments like that.

  5. I wouldn’t stress too much about one comment, I get a lot of comments insinuating that I must be making money from my bakery / blog when I absolutely do not and I pretty much just ignore it & try not to let it get to me.

    To answer your question I guess it depends what they meant with their (badly phrased) comment… if, say, a blogger writes a post about a product / meal they got for free without mentioning that then I think that’s disingenuous but I don’t see how your supper clubs / PR Company could be construed as “using people as a marketing tool”.

    • I ignore most if it too, but I like to reply to some things when they are so public.

  6. You don’t have to justify yourself here, really your time is too precious to spend on wrong-thinking people. Luckily, only a very small minority of people think like this and nothing you can say or do will change their minds.

    Let the haters hate.

  7. What’s ‘honest’ interest? I’m ‘honestly interested’ in Man City but I don’t expect to get my match tickets for free. Given my ‘honest’ interest in veganism I’m actually quite pleased when suppliers of vegan products find the means to convey awareness of their products to me – whether it’s via an ad or review in a vegan magazine or FGV’s credible, honest, dynamic and frankly rather joyful stream of activity. And if I’m not interested then I’ll exercise choice (along with my capacity for basic logical thought) and respond accordingly. It’s not like he’s advertising fur!

    Like Man City tickets, vegan products tend to be sold in shops. In exchange for money. Not handed out gratis by Buddhist monks. You numpty.

    I appreciate that you have to be relatively polite given your position, FGV, but I don’t. Sheesh!

  8. Your ridiculously hard work and unselfish dedication to bringing vegans in London together and promoting small ethical businesses over the last few years have actually changed my life; when I went to the first Potluck I was wavering a bit but am a stronger and more committed vegan than ever now and have some truly wonderful new friends because of you. Nil carborundum illegitemi, you deserve to profit from your brilliant endeavours as much as possible <3 xX

  9. Like others have said, I don’t see what you do as marketing–if you’re interested in vegan meetups, this blog is a valuable resource; I’m not sure why the commenter you mentioned seems to think the person facilitating vegan events shouldn’t be the one publicising them. And for what it’s worth, I’m *glad* you make money off of the supper clubs, etc, because I feel like vegans being viewed as a lucrative customer base is how we’re going to get more visibility.

  10. Please keep doing what you’re doing and ignore the 0.001% of people who want to be unpleasant and not appreciate what you’re doing. I feel a bit sad on your behalf that this individual is making mean comments 🙁 xxxx

  11. Sean, you’ve changed. Now you’re just another cog on the capitalist machine. Shame on you. You’re nothing but another puppet being pulled to the tune of the bankers.

    Only kidding. Money makes the world go round whether people like it or not. You could spend 80% of your time working for a lesser cause or something meaningless with 20% devoted to free vegan resource or you can devote 100% of your working time to a mixture of paid and free vegan resource. I’d always pick the latter as the vegan community gets five times more FGV (with your self-assigned mantle, feel free to insert fat joke here) . And we all know you make the best events! Also, marketing doesn’t need to be seen as a dirty word. We don’t have to put our money in our pockets if we don’t want to. You’re not a charity. People pay for your events if they want to go. And the Beer Festival is a great example of an event where both the organiser (I am making an assumption there) and the customers were all very happy. Even then you made the karaoke a charity event when you could easily have used it to make a bit of extra cash.

    Keep up the good work I say!

  12. If only there were more like you in the world – standing up for animals and promoting ethical, healthy and delicious food. So you’ve found a way to make a living doing something you love AND its good for the planet – good for you! The commenter is probably jealous. And if you didnt make money you might be Thin Gay Vegan and that would be downright boring.

  13. I have only every done one thing for money, and I didnt exspect to get that money but in the future if I can I would love to do recipes for money. If yu were just pretending to be vegan to make money then that would be wrong but your not…. pffft HATERZ GONNA HATE!

  14. Blog on fat man. It’s just a bit of spite.. I have a couple of blogs and it would be better if criticism centred on blog content rather than maligning the intentions of the blogger which you can never really know anyway.

  15. You provide a valuable service. I want to know about new vegan products and services, and trust your take on it. I think it’s brilliant that you are making money for a passion.

    I’m also impressed and delighted that you’ve opened the subject for discussion.

  16. Somebody out there wanted their 15 seconds of fame – and they got it. Don’t them them any more oxygen.

  17. I agree it’s absolutely reasonable for you to combine selfless community organisation and blogging with running a vegan business.

    I’m interested in how journalism is adapting to the digital age, so I’ll blather on about it a bit. Please indugle me :).

    Although your critic is being unfair and simplistic, the broad issue of how to separate journalism from business interest is something that affects every factual writer nowadays, from citizen bloggers to, nowadays, large corporations.

    The big media orgs (BBC, The Scott Trust [Guardian Owners], &c) used to deal with this by separating the people who make money from the people who make content and hoping the twain never met – although those Chinese walls are now breaking down a bit even there.

    For small bloggers, there’s a consensus among journalism ethics codes that transparency, and noting any conflicts of interest, are vital.

    Of course, you already disclaim your conflicts of interest, such as when you review a product from a company you also do PR for. And – as you say – it’s reasonable for readers to assume that when you blog about an event your organise and charge money for, that you make some money off it.

    It’s reasonable. But I can see how there might be just a smidge of confusion. You charge a pound or two for London Vegan Drinks to just cover costs; £35 for a vegan feast in a Royal Park as a business; and somewhere in between for the wonderful London Vegan Beer Festival, which I sincerely hope made you an income for all the hard work you put in. Readers will know about other vegan festivals entirely run by volunteers; and possibly about vegan bloggers who post press releases from PR clients without the slightest declaration of interest.

    You know me, and you know that I tend towards being a bit more formal about such things.

    I happen to know you have some journalistic ethics, but you don’t tell readers. I’d suggest saying on your “About” page what your ethics are. (For comparison, here is the ethics of my internet radio show, The Vegan Option). You might say that you run a vegan PR and events business, that if you tell people you are running an event and charging more than trivial money for tickets then readers should assume it’s part of that business, and you will declare any other interests.

    Some bloggers have a declaration of interests line at the bottom of every post, even if it usually says that they have no conflicts of interest. Given that not everyone will read your ethics code, it might help build your brand as a trustworthy blogger.

    I’m trying to organise a panel discussion about vegan independent media at VegFestUK London. If that discussion happens, I’d love it if you’d join the panel :).

  18. So, I guess one way of looking at this criticism is that the commentor gave you an opportunity to share more of what you do, and how & why you do it.

    I’m not a Buddhist, but a Buddhist would probably thank them sincerely for the opportunity. I’m not that nice.

    They may have just been “poking the bear” to see how you respond. ME, I LOVE BEING POKED!

    Did I just say that out loud?

    Anyway, you deserve LOTS OF FREE HUGS. Keep up the good work.

    I live in the U.S., but if I’m ever visit England, I’d like to look you up (if that’s okay).

    Oh, and (can I just say) WOOF! : )

  19. “but if I’m ever visit England”???

    Really? Jeez.

  20. I love your blog. The only real problem I’ve encountered is that, at seven and a bit months pregnant, reading it before bed is disastrous. I end up either starving or wake up to find myself surrounded by post it notes of where I should satisfy my next craving…Keep up your brilliant work as bump and I constantly need new food ideas 🙂

  21. One of the reasons why this blog is so great is because you review vegan products and restaurants – a great information service for the vegan community.
    Those reviews are more authentic and honest if you are a regular customer paying for these items rather than receiving them for free.
    And how are you going to pay for things without an income? Hmm? No money = no blog = no good.
    We all need money to live. You earn money in ethical ways, spend it on ethical things, and do a lot for free as well. This makes you better than most of us out there, including your rare critics.
    Keep doing your good work and don’t let the b*st*rds grind you down.

    P.S. Not been to potluck in a while as my evenings are now spent breastfeeding my vegan baby girl. Bear with me. Once she’s old enough, I’ll be back! 🙂

  22. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years and would like to say thanks – your posts have been extremely helpful to me (especially when I lived in Leeds) and I love it when you post about new and interesting vegan products and places, particularly your reviews – v helpful for a skint small towner who may otherwise waste limited funds on travelling to less than perfect places or on ordering products that can be bested. (Plus there are things I’d miss out on altogether). I’m pleased to hear that all your hard work in sharing this news helps support you, sorry that someone gave you unjustified grief about it.

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