In 2017, Gallup did a poll that found that five percent of Americans identified as vegetarian and three percent as vegan. I’m one of them. More and more people are transitioning to eating plant-based food at least some of the time—2017 sales grew to over $3 billion, a jump of eight percent, according to Gallup—which emphasizes the need for serious, strong pro-animal rights advocacy on a national scale. We don’t have that. Instead, we have PETA.
The uselessness of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals has been on full display over the last few days. First, as our sister site the Takeout reported yesterday, the organization published a blog post on Monday arguing that “real feminists should stop eating eggs.” Additionally, ABC7 in San Jose, CA, reported last week that the organization had put up a billboard in the area expressing a similar sentiment. “Anyone who’s upset about the sexual abuse of women should be equally intolerant of the sexual abuse of females of any species,” PETA Associate Director Ashley Byrne told the network. Hoo boy.
Not content with just one giant self-own in a week, PETA made its latest harebrained attempt to co-opt the language of social justice with this bad tweet on Tuesday asking people to drop common euphemisms which reference violence to animals, and replace them with extremely dumb bullshit like “feed a fed horse.”
Their explanation of why they did this was even worse, comparing shit like “Bring home the bacon” to racism (???):
What makes this even more cringeworthy is that PETA has a long history of doing fucked up shit in order to prove a point, like dressing up as KKK members to protest the Westminster Dog Show, or their 2005 decision to juxtapose pictures of black men being lynched with depictions of animal cruelty. “They’re comparing chickens to black people?” an NAACP spokesperson asked incredulously at the time.
It doesn’t help PETA’s argument that animal lives are just as important as human lives that they, uh, also kill animals. A lot of them. Over 2,400 in 2014 alone at its shelter in Virginia, or over 80 percent of all of the animals it took into the shelter that year. (PETA’s argument for doing this is that it’s a solution for overpopulation, and that for an animal which won’t be adopted, spending a lifetime in a no-kill shelter can be a “fate worse than death.”)
There are so many solid arguments for why anyone should go vegan or vegetarian, or just reduce their meat consumption in general. There’s the animal rights argument, which fits in nearly with an ethos of social justice (so long, of course, as you’re not wokely comparing people to animals). There’s the environmental racism and classism associated with factory farming. There’s the fact that it’s better for you health-wise. And it’s not only better for the environment in the abstract; a reduction in meat and dairy consumption is something that needs to happen on a organized, worldwide scale in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change.
To the extent that PETA does any of these things, it does none of them well, opting for only the most ham-fisted Banksy-type shit in an attempt to shame individual people into becoming vegans. And this strategy hasn’t just failed—it’s made a mockery of the animal rights movement at a time when strong, well-organized advocacy could do a lot of good for everyone, regardless of whether they choose to eat meat or not.
Fix your shit, PETA, or fuck off.