As a vegetarian, I must say, I fucking hate PETA. I really do. I hate them with a passion that burns deep inside my soul. I have always hated them and I always will. They are the biggest waste of tax exempt status that I have ever seen (OK, maybe not the biggest, but close). I thought they had reached their full potential as the scum of the earth with their “I’d Rather Go Naked then Wear Fur” campaign. You know, the one that objectified women’s bodies (because there were no naked men in these ads, folks) in order to promote the cause of animal rights. But apparently I was so wrong.
The newest ad campaign (paid for with their millions of tax exempt dollars) can be seen here. I want to make sure that we are all clear on this concept. Feeding meat to your children is child abuse because it will make them obese. Therefore, forget all of the great reasons there are to adopt a vegan lifestyle. At the end of the day, it will make your kid skinny, and that’s what really matters. Are you fucking kidding me???!!!
Let’s start with the obvious problems. Vegetarianism is not a diet. It doesn’t make you lose weight. If you are losing weight simply by adopting a vegetarian diet, you are probably not eating enough. In that case, it won’t matter how much weight you lose, you are doing your body more harm than good by depriving it of nutrients that it really needs. It is a common misconception (one that drives me insane), that variations in size among people is simply a reflection of what they eat. This may be news to you PETA, but there are about as many explanations for body differences as their are dollars in your tax exempt bank account. I have a hard time understanding why an organization that takes animal rights so seriously would stoop so low as to sell out veganism as a diet rather than a lifestyle. But then I remember what organization I am talking about and I am no longer surprised. Have I mentioned that I hate PETA? I really do.
What really makes my blood boil is that fact that although adults may be able to look beyond the obvious fallacies and discern the point that is being made by the controversial advertisement children can’t. (Side note: Elaine, who graciously shared this link with me, offers her point of view as to what PETA was trying to say on her blog.) Let’s be honest, children are cruel creatures. To some children, an advertisement like this perpetuates the idea that fat children should be demonized. To a heavier child, this says that eating is something to be ashamed of. It also says that the solution to the “problem of weight” for children is to stop eating meat.
This scares me more than anything. As an adult, I had a difficult time transitioning to a vegan way of eating. It took me a few months before I was able to regulate my food intake to meet the specific needs of my body. Don’t get me wrong, I support anyone who wants to become vegan. I think its a great thing. That being said, this is not a decision that anyone should make in a rash manner. It takes a great deal of research and understanding. And for a child, I fear the effects of the transition would be magnified in an underdeveloped body. I am positive that it is possible to make this transition at any age, but it is not as oversimplified as this advertisement makes it seem.
What is equally upsetting is the use of words in this campaign to evoke certain emotions. The association of meat eating with real forms of physical and emotional abuse is offensive. I agree that feeding children foods that are unhealthy is a way of depriving them of a healthy development. There are children all over the world, however, that are experiencing forms of abuse far greater than this everyday. How dare PETA exploit the emotions connected with these forms of abuse to make a point about animal rights. Seriously, I fucking hate them. Have I mentioned that yet?
Not to mention, phrases like, “Fight the Fat” are forms of verbal abuse against heavier people, vegan and nonvegan. So, let’s fight one form of “abuse” with another form. Clever. Really fucking clever.
So, with this new advertising campaign, let’s see what we have accomplished People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We have shamed fat children. Condoned the verbal abuse of fat children and adults. Exploited the experiences of abused persons. Most importantly we have created a completely made up connection between veganism and weight loss. Wow. That’s quite a list.
Now let’s see what we have accomplished to further the ethical treatment of animals. Absolutely nothing. Great job.