VegGuide.org Is Shutting Down

This site will be shutting down as of Sunday, November 24. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the site as well as to all of our nonprofit partners! So long and thanks for all the mock fish.

Why?

VegGuide was created back in 2002 to fill what I (Dave Rolsky, the site creator) and several others saw as a gap in online services. There were also some other motivations you can read about in greater detail if you're interested.

The site did get some traction and did have quite a bit usage, particularly from 2008-2015, when the bulk of the entries currently on the site were added.

However, traffic to the site has been declining for many years, and continues to do so. But even more importantly, contributions to the site have also declined, so the data on the site is becoming increasingly stale and out of date. My feeling is that the site is probably now a net negative because it often directs people to businesses that no longer exist. This is especially true outside of North America, but even in North America most of the listings are old and not well-maintained.

I think there are a number of factors that led to VegGuide becoming much less relevant.

Probably first and foremost is the rise of mobile devices and apps. A huge amount of people's internet activity has moved to their phones and apps. We never had a full-featured app and we don't have a mobile-friendly web design, all of which certainly hurt usage quite a bit.

In addition, very well-funded commercial entities like Yelp and Google Maps have done a better and better job of serving the same niche that we serve. When traveling over the last few years I've found Google Maps to be quite helpful in finding vegan food, and I turn to it before VegGuide or HappyCow more and more.

My own increasingly limited interest in working on the code behind the site didn't help either. The code base uses some technologies that I developed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I really started hating to deal with those technology choices over time, but switching off them was quite difficult. Also, as I've aged I've also noted that my stamina for working on large volunteer coding projects by myself has greatly waned. I still enjoy working on hobby projects, but I'm much better at completing smaller efforts. Moving VegGuide to a modern technical footing was one of those big projects I just couldn't get done.

That all said, I think it had a good run, and I'm proud of what the site accomplished and I think creating it was a net good for animals and the movement.

Shutdown Plan

I will continue to renew the domain name. My plan for the domain is to turn it into a static site that just does the following:

  • Documents some of the history and reasoning above.
  • Points people to Google Maps, Yelp, and HappyCow as viable alternatives.
  • Points people to the site's code and a sanitized version of the data in case anyone is interested.
  • To clarify the last point, the sanitized data will be a dump of the database with all private user information expunged, plus the image files associated with entries & users.

I will also privately save a full, unsanitized copy of the database in case that's ever needed but I will not share that with anyone.

Questions or Concerns?

Send me an email if you'd like.

Thank you for your support and interest in VegGuide over the years!