Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Reason Why I Loathe PETA

I like animals, I really do. And as a conscious carnivore, I understand where PETA is coming from. I just really abhor the way they go about spreading their message. It's like there's no filtering or editing at all when it comes to their PR department.

Let's see...we've had about a zillion versions of naked ladies in the 'I'd rather go naked then wear fur' ad campaign (never naked men, because we all know 'sex sells'), a banned Superbowl ad featuring naked ladies rubbing themselves with vegetables, naked ladies in cages, naked ladies wrapped in plastic (are you sensing a theme?), the relatively benign but ridiculous 'sea kittens', a Holocaust On Your Plate, an attempt to buy advertising on the border fence (the ad read "If the Border Patrol Doesn't Get You, the Chicken and Burgers Will — Go Vegan"), and, completing the racial insensitivity trifecta, dressing up in KKK costumes to protest a dog show. Oh, and, closer to home, we have the Ben and Jerry's breast milk debacle.

Now, PETA, in all it's wisdom, brings us this gem of a billboard in Jacksonville, FL.

I'll give you a minute to let the horror sink in.

It gets better. From PETA's press release:

“Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA has a free ‘Vegetarian Starter Kit’ for people who want to lose pounds while eating as much as they like.
Seriously. I don't have a lot of coherent thoughts about this, but I'll try. If I saw that ad, especially if I was on my way to the beach, I'd probably burst into tears. It's one thing to say 'maybe a lot of Americans should consider a healthier vegetarian diet as an alternative to consuming so much unhealthy industrial meat' and quite another thing to say 'fat people are whales!' My brother couldn't understand why when we spent the day at a water park, I walked around with my beach towel firmly wrapped around my waist as soon as I got out of the water. I'm mostly OK with my large body these days, but there is still the tormented, insecure, fat child inside of me that takes crap like this too personally.

So, yeah. Not only does vegetarian = thin and thin = healthy, but apparently, as long as it's vegetarian, you can eat anything you want and still be model thin. Deceiver compiled a wonderful list of vegetarian and vegan foods that definitely won't make you fat. Vegan options include french fries, onion rings, samosas, soy venti frappuccinos, soda, and beer. Non-vegan vegetarian options include ice cream, cupcakes, Twinkies, pizza (I've had some vegan pizza, so this could go on the vegan list, too), funnel cake, potato skins, nachos, and fettuccine alfredo.

Now, I understand that PETA deliberately makes these ads to 'create controversy' (good lord, I hate that phrase). It's always been an ends justify the means method of advertising with them. Their antics make people really dislike them, including most of the vegetarians/vegans that I know. It turns people off from animal rights and lumps animal rights activists in with these crazy but very vocal people.

I even feel some pangs of guilt just mentioning their ads, as it only gives them the attention that they want. You know, the whole all press is good press thing. It's a loosing situation, though, because if you talk about it, you're giving them what they want, but if you just ignore them, than you're giving them a pass on all the BS they produce in an attempt to garner attention.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that PETA might really be a front for the American Meat Institute or something. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes people want to go out and eat a couple pounds of hamburger as much as PETA does. Or maybe that's just me.

UPDATE: I've been informed that I actually used the term 'animal rights' inappropriately. The definition of animal rights from Wikipedia:

Animal rights, also referred to as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings. Advocates approach the issue from different philosophical positions but agree that animals should be viewed as legal persons and members of the moral community, not property, and that they should not be used as food, clothing, research subjects, or entertainment.

The term I should have been using is 'animal welfare'. Animal welfare deals with improving the lives of animals, including things like supporting no-kill shelters and humane farming. Here is the definition of animal welfare, also from Wikipedia.

Animal welfare refers to the viewpoint that it is morally acceptable for humans to use nonhuman animals for food, in animal research, as clothing, and in entertainment, so long as unnecessary suffering is avoided. The position is contrasted with the animal rights position, which holds that other animals should not be used by, or regarded as the property of, humans.


Yomper said...

Someone PLEASE buy me one of those "PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals" shirts. And make mine 2XL; I'm fat and I don't care if PETA knows it.

About 20 years ago PETA activists killed dozens of dogs at a Boston dog show by walking around cage-to-cage poisoning their water. There rationalization of this abhorrent violence was, "Show dogs are abused and are in constant suffering, so we were putting them out of their misery." If you've ever known the owner of a show dog you know successful show dogs are about the most pampered creatures on earth. If you're not a total idiot you know death by poison is usually excruciatingly painful. PETA is not interested in protecting animals. PETA is interesting in promoting PETA. It won't surprise me in the least if we eventually learn that PETA is actually part of the Church of Scientology. "Xenu told me to butcher your dog because it was suffering from critically low thetan levels."

Quartermaster said...

Holy crap! I thought their advertisements were bad. I had no idea that their protests include killing the animals they're supposively out to protect.

BlueMule said...

As we know, I'm a lifelong carnivore. I'm also pretty savvy about the way our food industry works and the horrible nature of how food is mass-produced in this country. I understand PETA's general concept and to some extent, I support similar ideas. However, their tendency to choose extremism in order to promote their point of view turns me off.

The whole "meat is murder" concept is absurd. Those pointy teeth in my mouth to the right and left of my front teeth are there for a purpose - ripping and tearing. Look at a bear's mouth - same deal. Incisors. They're for eating meat. If we were meant to be herbivores, we'd have three stomachs and a mouth full of molars. We, like pigs and many other tasty creatures, are omnivores. We eat meat. If good quality meat is eaten in the right amounts, it keeps us healthy and doesn't make us fat.

I *do* think we need to be more aware of where our food comes from and what was done to it before it appeared in those shiny packages in our grocery stores. We expect meat to be cheap, so corners get cut and the happiness of our food animals is heavily compromised. We need to man up and take responsibility for where our food comes from if we are actually serious about protecting animals from unusual harm and suffering.

However, the notion that a vegetarian diet is the best way to go for all of us is downright stupid. For some metabolisms it *is* a good choice, but for most of us, it ain't. And to imply it's the meat that is making us fat is ignoring the truth - it's all of the processed crap that's the problem.

Personally, I'm not fat because of all the meat I eat, I'm fat because of all the crappy food that I eat, like chips and candy.

Vegetables are what food eats.

Quartermaster said...

The most annoying thing about PETA is that they actually have a point. But then they wrap that point in so much BS that at best, I dismiss them out of hand, and at worst, makes me want to beat them about the head and shoulders with a smoked sausage.

BlueMule said...

Check this out: