Copy-cattiness and the Food Blog Paradigm


Copy-cattiness and the Food Blog Paradigm

As bloggers (more specifically, food bloggers, and even more so—vegan food bloggers) we shouldn’t see the profession as part of a dog-eat-dog (or should I say cat-eat-cat) world. Most of us (at least in the food blog world) are of the female gender/identity, but that doesn’t mean we have to be mean or blatantly (or subtly) plagiarize one another. Why can’t we all just get along? Why must we copy the writings of each other and market them as original works? We shouldn’t have to continue trying again and failing better. Even when that happens (trying again and again to use our authentic voices and somehow maintain consistent readership, or keep our fanbase intact, or successfully earn a living from what we do) we should never act like a Pholcus phalangioides and prey on our own kind.

I don’t consider myself a failure by any means—yet it does often feel discouraging when we as female food bloggers “eat our own” or want to stay so far above the pack that plagiarism somehow becomes a legitimate form of flattery. To honor the sentiment I’ve felt this past year, I want to [instead of giving names of those who I feel have wronged me] describe those who have helped me stay strong, committed to my blog; those who I respect and admire for their individuality…to elaborate on the ways in which I see them as separate from the masses.

This is the short list of food bloggers/people/celebrities I admire for their unabashed authenticity i.e. not simply copy-catting (I know it’s not really a word, but it should be) in order to profit. People I admire but would never try to mimic. People I admire for being themselves. People who inspire me. Everyone on this list seems to profit from, or earn their livelihood from their presence on the web or in other media. The difference between them and other new bloggers or you-tube celebrities might not seem obvious to everyone, but I’d like to distinguish them from the rest of the blogosphere, youtube-sphere, and general web-celebrity stratosphere. Clearly, some of them gained their celebrity status before youtube worked its way out from the basements of emo teenage amateur filmmakers into the lives of anyone with internet access.

1. Post Punk Kitchen (Isa Chandra Moskowitz). Just watch the first episode broadcasted on public access TV…before youtube (see above).

2. Happy Healthy Life (Kathy Patalsky). She may be the vision of the super-successful LA power-blogger with the envy of every wannabe food blogger howling at her inbox with the hopes of her recognizing them as part of her elite tribe. That didn’t happen overnight, nor did it result from “taking the easy way out” or mimicking the work of other writers or photographers. Years before the advent of her site FindingVegan, she impressed me as someone who truly antibiotics wanted to build a vegan blog community; in other words, she never copied or re-branded the prose or the photographic technique of someone else.

3. Manifest Vegan. (Allyson Kramer). It’s no longer called that (her blog) since she became a genuine (published, and not in the self-published ebook way) cookbook author (!!!). I started reading her blog Manifest Vegan because it motivated me to continue even though I had other aspirations (in the early days of her blog I read about her work as an artist…which continues to lead me to believe that her efforts in writing and photographing her recipes were truly meaningful to her and not just a get-rich-quick scheme).

4. VeganLatina (Terry Hope Romero). See the first video (Post Punk Kitchen, with Isa Chandra). The only recipes within the vegan blogosphere that I have ever tried in recent years, i.e. decided to attempt as opposed to inventing/creating my own when given the opportunity to cook for people or prepare food for myself and others, have been Romero’s newer recipes i.e. those in her book Salad Samauri.

5. Fat Free Vegan Kitchen (Susan Voisin). She basically pioneered the vegan blog, and she knows first-hand [according to her HuffPost interview] the frustration and devastation of seeing plagiarized versions of original works sold through amazon from a mysterious publisher three continents away. Knowing this happened to her too makes me that much more angry, but also gives me a certain degree of reassurance that I can move past this…that I too might emerge from the trenches of plagiarism with my dignity intact and with more strength to boot.

6. My Drunk Kitchen (Hannah Hart). Mary Louise Parker. Wine, puns, and peanut butter brownies. Even if they’re not vegan (the brownies, or MLP or Hannah Hart). I wish they were, but it doesn’t matter. I make my own brownies, without a mix and without flour in general, yet after watching this I was sold.

7. Queer Vegan Food (Sarah E. Brown). I don’t usually read other vegan blogs, especially as of late. The primary exception to the rule is Sarah of Queer Vegan Food. She’s the real deal, and I recommend reading her blog if you value authenticity over regurgitated or plagiarized wash-rinse-repeat hyper-marketed monologues that seem to value product placement over authenticity.

*If anyone else should be added to this list, please remind me in the comments. I might have mentioned them before, and if I’ve met you at some point and forgot to add you to this list, please let me know. In writing this I didn’t mean to ostracize anyone or claim that all other food bloggers lack authenticity. I love most of you! It’s just that a few bad eggs (no, I don’t mean real eggs) can spoil the cake.

**Also, please respond with personal experiences of your own, or ideas, or anything really, in response. Xo.

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