PETA Abuses my Brain Cells

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.  

26 Responses to “PETA Abuses my Brain Cells”

  1. May 7, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I came across your blog on Technorati. Nice site layout. I will stop by and read more soon.

    Mike Harmon

  2. May 7, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I don’t think I have enough Sanity Watchers points to follow the link right now, but my diagnosis is that Ingrid Newkirk is just fucking dangerous, malicious, and crazy. PETA doesn’t have to be the organization they are today. With their level of visibility and how long they have been around, they could be using their status to actually accomplish something rather than to shame women and fat people with pseudoscience and misogyny. I say this reluctantly, because for years I was not really on board with hatred of PETA, but I just can’t support them anymore in any way.

  3. May 7, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    PETA, IMO, is a perfect example of a great and worthy cause using tactics so abhorrent that it alienates the very people it is trying to convert.

  4. May 7, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    What an entirely vile campaign! My head exploded.

  5. May 7, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Yes, yes, yes, and oh? YES. Fuck PETA.

  6. May 7, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Sorry, but I do think we need radicals like PETA. It would be great if they didn’t offend other minorities to promote animal rights, though. And your hatred of PETA sounds to me like that of a woman hating feminists. It only serves one cause, and it’s not animal’s or women’s.

  7. 7 Bridey
    May 7, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    It’s hard to believe, with the organization’s history, that there’s anyone out there who doesn’t yet understand that PETA is a vicious, destructive outfit whose biggest agenda is pure attention-whoring. To the degree that this group conveys a coherent message at all, it has far more to do with hatred of humanity than it has to do with love of animals — as this campaign, and past, even more repugnant PETA efforts have shown.

    Their vile propaganda is so transparent — to anyone but the news media, which blithely quotes this repellent organization’s garbage as though it had any level of credibility — that I’m sure they have done a great deal of harm to the causes they purport to endorse. Not that they’d care, because it ain’t about the animals.

    It’s axiomatic, of course, that activists lie, but PETA is in a league of its own.

  8. May 7, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Sometimes people lose weight after going vegan/vegetarian because of an emphasis on vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It isn’t always because they’re not eating enough. Of course, it must be noted that one can eat a diet consisting entirely of pizza, potato chips and candy and still technically be vegetarian and even vegan.

    Moot point aside. I do hate how books like Skinny Bitch promote vegetarianism as a weight-loss diet. For myself and I imagine other vegetarians, it’s the equivalent of atheists wearing the cross or sporting Virgin Mary items solely as fashion accessories. Several years ago Peta protested outside carnivals by passing out literature specifically to children showing lots of bloody and gory scenes. Peta has no ethical qualms in exploiting obesity or obese people because they think the ends justify the means. I don’t think compromising one’s ethics, especially for an organization that purports to be ethical, justifies the costs nor do I want to join any organization that, while it treats animals ethically, treats people so very unethically.

  9. May 7, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I live in Youngstown, OH 3 months out of the year (yay college) and we’ve had a PETA billboard with that sentiment for years, only with a skinny kid eating the burger. (And that kid looks like he was stretched in photoshop, so yay for making fat people seem grotesque.)

    I’m sorry, but as a scientist I have to disagree with the statement that meat is abuse. Whether or not one believes eating meat to be morally wrong (and there are foods that I won’t eat for moral reasons- veal for instance), humans are evolved to eat both plants and animals, and most nutritionists I’ve spoken to agree that for many if not most children, meat is very nutritious and beneficial, a great source of bioavailable protein, B vitamins, fat, fat-soluble vitamins, and minerals such as calcium and iron. Not that vegetables aren’t, just that the amounts needed to be eaten don’t coincide as well with a child’s small stomach, and adolescent girls are advised against going vegetarian because of the iron issue, until they can successfully get the iron they need from veggies by planning meals. How can giving a child something that will nourish them and that their bodies are evolved for be abuse?

  10. 10 intellectualfeminist
    May 7, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    In response to Lola’s comment, your indifference confuses me. I think there is a need for radical organizations, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about things. What PETA does goes so far beyond just being offensive to minorities. It’s down right ignorant and cruel. And if in fact that is the only way that PETA chooses to share its ideas perhaps they should choose a name without the word “ethical” in it, since ethics in general mean nothing to them. One of many ways that I choose to take a stand as a feminist and a vegetarian is to promote dialogue concerning these ridiculous forms of propaganda that perpetuate untruths and cruel forms of discrimination in the media. I’ll admit that what is done here is simply ranting. However, your “oh well” attitude towards PETA’s offensive methods is more of a disservice to women and animals, than any rant that I can come up with.

  11. 11 intellectualfeminist
    May 7, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    On a lighter note, Rachel I appreciate the point you make about the variations on vegan diets. You made it much better than I did. I admit that I am not a scientist or a dietician. In response to Angie, I agree that there is nothing inherently bad about eating meat from a purely scientific standpoint. I think that veganism is an ethical choice and there are health benefits to both vegan and nonvegan diets. I admit that I am not a scientist or a dietician, so thanks for that perspective on the subject.

  12. 12 Piffle
    May 7, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I haven’t liked PETA since I heard they kill most of the animals given to them for adoption. That’s just wrong. I’ve adopted all my furry friends, the most recent was a seven year old at the time tortiseshell fluffball. She’s the most wonderful cuddly sweetie ever.

    My first cat was from a no-kill shelter, she’d been there six months and was so depressed that she’d stopped grooming. My Mom thought it was a bad idea, we’d gone for the kitten I’d been promised for years; and here I wanted this gangly year-old mess. I took her home and brushed and brushed and brushed; and she purred and purred and purred. Anywhere I went from then on, there she followed. She’s long gone now, kidney failure. But I’m so grateful to the no-kill people who didn’t give up on her, she was a wonderful comfort during my teen years.

  13. 13 ccampbell
    May 7, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    First: word to this whole post. I support the theory of PETA but not the practice. It isn’t merely ethical objection to the abusive advertising, either; not the minority, but the *majority* of Americans (my fellow citizens) have been declared overweight or obese. This means that the advertising is not merely cruel to fat persons, fat children, parents, and women. It is also likely to prejudice a significant segment of the American population against PETA and by association other ethical causes.

    And, @Lola: women are not a minority. Nor are the overweight. This is not a case of the end justifying the means, but of clueless persons thinking they understand social change.

  14. May 7, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    I don’t think compromising one’s ethics, especially for an organization that purports to be ethical, justifies the costs nor do I want to join any organization that, while it treats animals ethically, treats people so very unethically.

    Yep. This pretty much sums up my feelings about PETA. Fantastic rant.

  15. May 7, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    This is especially weird if you consider that some traditional eskimos have been eating nothing BUT meat for centuries and yet none of them are fat. There are a few radical low-carb advocates out there who’d even go so far as to say that we’re killing our children if we feed them vegetables. If either view was right, we’d all be dead by now. Personally I’m jealous of anyone who has the will power to become vegetarian. I tried it once and failed.

  16. 16 Arwen
    May 8, 2008 at 1:24 am

    As I’ve been saying around town here – grew up vegetarian, was fat anyway. On whole grains, veggies, tofu, fruit, nuts, nutritional yeast – and very occasional sweets. I remember people saying the “vegetarians were skinny” thing while I was growing up. That screwed with me.

  17. May 8, 2008 at 7:32 am

    PETA’s biases and and tactics hurt their cause. Because of PETA, mainstream people think that the individuals protesting animal cruelty and promoting vegetarianism are a bunch of violent assholes and whack jobs, and that they’re fundamentally anti-human. That’s not going to win a lot of converts.

    I didn’t like meat when I was growing up, and rarely ate it. My brother wouldn’t eat vegetables. I’ve always been fat, and he’s always been thin. This isn’t to agree with the low-carbers. It’s just to say that the types of food you eat aren’t all that relevant to what you weigh. And, I wasn’t an all-starch semi-vegetarian, either. I’ve always adored vegetables.

  18. 18 gayzon
    May 8, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Yes, it’s speculation and that’s not almost fair, but maybe end justifies the means? They try to find a simple popular way of attracting people to vegetarianism. “If noble idea of animal protection does’t work, we can exchange it to diet-mania” Though I’m not sure about long-term effect… And it’s not politely, of course.

  19. May 8, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    So, I’ve already gone on the record as to why I won’t join or support Peta. But I also see Lola’s point about needing a radical fringe like Peta (not her comments on women hating feminists). My husband and I watched the last half of a documentary on Peta’s president, Ingrid Newkirk, a few months ago. The timing was ironic, considering I had just recently posted on why it is I dislike Peta on my blog. Seeing the documentary though made me realize and even appreciate why it is Peta does some of the things it does. I don’t think Ingrid or Bruce (who I have met and had lunch with) or the other top Peta execs truly believe in some of their more absurd campaigns or stunts, but they feel that they can only get attention through their shock value. It does not make what it is they do ethical or right, but I can understand their motivations for doing so. Like Peta or not, the organization has helped to raise the issue of animal rights and vegetarianism to a new consciousness. While I do not support Peta, their efforts have indirectly helped more mild-mannered and less offensive groups I do support get more recognition and assistance.

  20. May 8, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I have a friend who’s vegan, and she makes the most amazing vegan cupcakes ever. 🙂
    I am disappointed when vegetarianism and veganism are put up as some amazing weight loss solution. The people I know who chose to eat that way are doing for various reasons, but weight loss isn’t one of them. Applying the diet label makes it seem less meaningful.

  21. 21 buddingstarlit
    May 8, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    WOW! Now you know, all that PETA talk reminds me of how crazy they really are. A woman came into my office a few weeks back and starts talking about humane mice traps. Cause when you live in NYC you find that the real New Yorkers are the rats and mice. Chile the woman did not like that we used snap traps and glue traps. So Homegirl went across the street to the Home Depot and bought me a humane trap! Now you know me being me, I accepted it. But then I started wondering, how many other folks has she bought this for? Does she know that living in Manhattan, you really don’t have any place to release the mice to. And we know that I have a problem with the mice coming back to my house. That’s a no go!
    So yes I understand your hate for PETA. You can’t stand them because they seem to go out f their way to objectify women and i totally agree. That, and I believe they are just plain CRAZY!

  22. 22 Ozy
    May 13, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Vegetarianism is not a diet.

    Haha! What an utterly ridiculous statement. Vegetarianism is defined by what a person eats, aka their diet! How excellently this highlights the abuses that weight-loss culture has heaped upon the word “diet,” eh?

    Anyway, I can see why this current campaign is bad, but I don’t see the problem with the fur one, per se. How often do men wear fur? Having naked men in that campaign would be nonsensical. However, if they actually weren’t sexist, they would presumably also have a “I’d Rather Be Naked Than Wear Leather” campaign.

    As it happens, I’m presently trying to go vegetarian, including the avoidance of egg and milk, but my motivations are probably a bit different than most people’s: I don’t particuarly care about the suffering of animals. I don’t even care about the preservation of ecosystems and all that sort of thing. If it helped human interests to utterly crush the natural order under the iron boot-heels of global industrialization, then I’d be all for it. Mainly, I think it’s wasteful, from a purely human-centric perspective, to feed livestock with human-consumable staple crops, as we mostly do now. About half of such crops grown in America go towards meat production, and that’s a terrible use of resources.

  23. 23 Branwyn
    May 23, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    This ad campaing is an old one in the US. In North Carolina where I lived at the time, in 2002 or 3, this same ad was on a billboard I had to pass by on my way to work. It was only up for 3 weeks, but that was three weeks too long. I called up the managing company for the billboard the sign was on and complained. I’m sure many, many other people did too, for it to have come down so quickly.

    As a person who is a survivor of severe child abuse, I was beyond incensed that PETA would equate what happened to me with eating meat. If they want to know what REAL child abuse is, I can give them graphic details. NONE of the details I can give them include my parents actually feeding me (whether it was meat or salad). Now, with holding food, because I was “too fat”, yeah, that was one of the abuses they did.

    But hey, as long as I wasn’t eating meat, I guess I wasn’t abused, huh?

  24. May 24, 2008 at 2:38 am

    I just came upon your blog. Great stuff! I’m vegetarian too (and fat — go figure), and I love animals, but I loathe PETA along with their pals at VegNews magazine. This PETA ad is pretty much equivalent to the smug, obnoxious, ignorant anti-fat rhetoric that they publish in VegNews, especially in Dan Piraro’s column. That guy is a total asshole.

  25. December 24, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    I’m glad there are lots of other people out there who feel the same way about peta as I. Ingrid Newkirk is either the best cult leader or best con artist I’ve ever seen, maybe both. The hypocricy of the organization and exploitation of women, is certain be the beginning of the end for them. Whatever they do anymore has nothing to do with ethical treatment. The media also is to blame for giving them publicity every time they start flapping their gums; and going to them for comments whenever their is some kind of issue somewhere. Face it they are only a lip service with no experience in animal raising or care. I think one of their best stunts yet was their “vegetarians have better sex video” I can’t believe the lies they spread and somehow get away with. I also cant believe how brainwashed their followers are. I love meat and dairy products, I farm, and I have no use for Ingrid and her cult.

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