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Ellen’s new “Going Vegan” website seems to be little more than a Trojan Horse for AOL advertisments

Sure, go with her if you must, but I can think of so many better ways...

Sure, go with her if you must, but I can think of so many better ways…

Ellen DeGeneres (the brand, if not the woman) recently launched a Going Vegan with Ellen site, to acclaim from such varied vegan media outlets as Vegan.com and VegNews. Those folks may like it, but I don’t!

The site probably will help some people be vegan (or closer to vegan), and may in the ultimate balance save some animals. But it’s still a squandered opportunity when you think how much of an effect it could have if it wasn’t so terrible. Ellen’s got a big audience. Imagine how much better the world could be if she gave them a great website instead of this mess.

First problem, it seems to equate “going vegan” with adopting a vegan diet. If you can find any mention of non-dietary aspects of veganism on there, please let me know. You know–leather, ingredients in non-food products, avoiding products tested on animals (like, ahem, Cover Girl), etc.

And it’s a godawful website. The visual design is clunky and unbalanced. The interface is atrocious, breaking what little content the site has is into numerous pieces, requiring dozens of clicks to see information that would make more sense on one page. But, hey, clicks are what you sell ads against!

They manage to cram in some really intrusive ads, too, via tactics like putting them in place of slides in slideshows. And to crown all other sins, they use Tynt, the copy/paste jerks, and Kontera, the useless mouseover popup jerks. And I have a special prize for anyone who can find me someone who likes the fucking Meebo Bar as an end-user. Any visitor with the slightest bit of self respect will run away screaming before they get to any meaningful content.

It doesn’t seem like much of a site for fans of Ellen, either. I couldn’t find any content by Ellen, quoting Ellen, or directly relating to Ellen’s own experiences as a vegan. The Getting Started page would be a great place to hear from Ellen about how she got started on her vegan diet, or at least a few peppy quotes. Instead, we’re mired in a longish and vague chunk of text offering such expertly copyedited advice as “Go to your grocery store and load up on granola (read the labels to make sure they’re vegan) granola…” Sigh.

If Ellen’s goal is to make the maximum number of people go vegan, or even adopt a vegan diet, this site is a poor effort for someone with her resources. She would have done better to just make one page with links to already existing quality vegan websites. I wouldn’t pick on an individual or a mom & pop site for the design issues, but AOL and/or Time Warner know exactly what they’re doing. And I think they’re jerks for it. And good luck finding the infernal thing via Ellen’s main site.

Also, this is the most useless recipe ever. (And I promise I’m not just saying that because it’s attributed to Kathy Freston.)

9 Comments

  1. Comment by

    christine

    on #

    Too bad, I don’t watch Ellen, but I respect some of her choices. She and her crew should take some tips and team up with PCCRM and http://www.pcrm.org/. At least they have celebrities who speak out about the truth.

    [I have no affiliation]

  2. Comment by

    Lesli

    on #

    Sorry, but i think you are picking this thing apart, when i think mainstreaming veganism is the goal here, no? Do we want mainstream middle-America soccer moms to start thinking about Veganism as a life style choice for themselves and their families? HELL YES. However it happens, however it gets people to go vegan, so be it. i dont fucking care what the ads say, the layout of the website, or anything else. People are sheep, and if the lead sheep is VEGAN, then WOOT!!

  3. Comment by

    Sharon

    on #

    Jason, thank you for this post and writing everything I was thinking regarding the execution of this site. I’m surprised she launched it pre-maturely. It’s like a rough draft and for someone with her assets, able to bring in the best of the best, it’s surprising that this is it. I have hopes that she will develop it into a better site and get rid of those damn mouseover popup jerks. Cheers ~ Sharon

  4. Comment by

    Jim Hirshfield

    on #

    Jason, with all due respect, I think you’re criticism for websites and vegan resources is unfortunate. Certainly there are plenty of other entities that merit criticism. I just spent some time on Ellen’s site, and I really don’t see the problem – I don’t see the problem with the site design or the coverage of issues.

    It won’t be up for any design awards, but who cares? What’s important is that she is bringing a positive message to the masses. I don’t think she’s averted the non-dietary reasons to go vegan, but even if she did, it’s much better to get the word out then not. Going vegan for personal health reasons, as I did 17 years ago, opens up the eyes and mind to all the other reasons, which I have long embraced. There are many paths to this destination.

    Non-dietary aspects of veganism? Yes, there’s a section on the site called “Why Go Vegan” and it includes write-ups on why it’s good for the planet and good for the animals.

    I’m also disappointed to see you parroting Gruber’s hate of Tynt. His post is misguided and misinformed. Unfortunately, he has commenting turned off, so there’s never been an opportunity to respond or discuss the topic openly and fairly. If you don’t like backlinks in your clipboard, opt-out at tynt.com. However, 500,000 publishers enjoy the insight Tynt provides, and 100s of millions of users don’t mind either.

    Jim Hirshfield
    “Chief Vegan Officer”
    Tynt Multimedia

  5. Comment by

    Vegan Pilot Marty

    on #

    Ah, we do have to balance the need for doing things the “right” way with just doing things. Some people spend their whole lives planning and never do.

    It certainly could have been done better, less commercial, (she has the money to self fund a website and staff to run it, no?), with more ethics but lets face it. Most people see vegan = vegan diet. Most people enter veganworld through diet. I’ve yet to meet someone who said, “No more leather for me,” while walking to the burger bar. I think most people start shedding one animal or another from their diet and as they learn more and more and are exposed to more and more, (an inevitability as you research recipes, where food comes from, how it gets on your plate), keep the momentum going towards ethics and a 100% (as if you can ever get there), vegan life.

    So is it another arrow pointing to another option? I believe that although it’s not a great website as is should be it’s not a BAD website. I think it will turn off less people than it interests and Ellen’s audience is, imho, mainstream American women. They still do most of the menu planning, shopping and cooking in this country. (I have nothing at all to substantiate that.) So if we can get a small percentage to change a small percentage of their meals then it’s that many more than before the site went up.

    The goal is a vegan world. I wish we could take bigger steps but hat’s off to Ellen for doing something that at least might produce some small shifts.

    Marty
    Marty’s Flying Vegan Review
    http://www.martysnycveggiereview.blogspot.com
    @veganpilotmarty

  6. Comment by

    Paul

    on #

    Having very influential cultural icons like Ellen promoting vegan eating seems like a very positive development that should be celebrated. I’m very glad to see her doing this.

  7. Comment by

    Steve

    on #

    Dude–In my book, you are not a “super vegan.” You are a super judgmental vegan. Case in point: this post. I know it’s your blog, but can’t you leave it alone and look at the positive in this? Also, your post long ago deriding “weekday vegans” because they’re blurring the lines between vegans and non-vegans and diminishing the significance of being a vegan….really? So for folks who say, by definition, i.e., “Weekday Vegan,” I eat a 100% plant-based diet from 12:01 a.m. Monday to 11:59 p.m. Friday every week, them callng themselves “weekday vegans” is unacceptable? Great, so here’s where my judgmentalism comes in: A guy blogging serially about alcohol and plugging a donut joint…IMHO, you’re just promoting toxic crap. Peace out.

  8. Comment by

    Susanne

    on #

    I’ve gotta say it. If I was a new vegan or thinking about going vegan and saw this post, I would think vegans are “jerks”… Kudos to Ellen and company for making the new site. If we pick apart celebrities or companies who are promoting our cause, it’s not exactly encouragement for others to promote veganism as well. Let’s put the bad vibes towards those abusing and exploiting animals, not those who agree with us.

  9. Comment by

    Veganne

    on #

    You gotta admit that Kathy Freston’s smoothie recipe is indeed “the most useless recipe ever”. Thanks for pointing it out–made me a laugh. And if you (Jason) don’t like the site’s interface and consider it a clunky design, then that’s your right of course. It doesn’t mean you’re attempting a take down of the entire vegan community and its mission. Sheesh.

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