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What Do Most Newspapers Say About Vegans? Hint: Fake News

The vast majority of newspaper articles are telling readers that they need not worry about the ethics of their diets because veganism is ridiculous: the vegan lifestyle is a fad that is ascetic and extremely difficult, and vegans themselves are oversensitive and hostile.

CLAIRE YIP: ‘Most people would probably agree that vegans have a mixed reputation in Western societies. People can see vegans as ascetic, holier-than-thou, and even as extremists. The authors of this study argue that society has a consistent bias against veganism, calling it “vegaphobia.” They say this bias is pervasive in mainstream media, and to prove this, the authors explored attitudes toward vegans in U.K. newspapers. Researchers collected a sample of 397 U.K. newspaper articles that mentioned “vegan,” “vegans,” or “veganism” from 2007, and categorized these as “positive,” “negative,” or “neutral” according to their own interpretations. Most (74%) of the articles were negative, a handful (20%) were neutral, and only a small number (6%) were positive.

This overwhelmingly negative coverage could cause readers to misunderstand what it is actually like to be a vegan while distracting them from the ethical justifications for being vegan. The vast majority of these newspaper articles are telling readers that they have no need to worry about the ethics of their omnivorous diets because veganism is ridiculous: the vegan lifestyle is a fad that is ascetic and extremely difficult, and vegans themselves are oversensitive and hostile… All of this is important because the media help readers to understand issues and groups that they have no personal interaction with. For many people, news coverage of veganism may be the only exposure they get to this philosophy and way of life.

The media represent huge opportunities to improve how people perceive veganism and to encourage people to reflect on the ethics of eating animals. The authors suggest vegan academics and NGOs could present themselves as “‘experts’ or consultants on veganism” and offer quotes and insights to newspaper editors and journalists. Additionally, vegans could also write letters to editors presenting their point of view, submit personal or factual essays for publication, or even consider careers in journalism to advocate against speciesism’. SOURCE…

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