Thursday, April 29, 2010

PETA: A Hurdle for Vegan Advocacy

This was a letter I had written to the PETA administration in my thoughts about there extremism and marketing tactics. As someone who has advocated for the vegan lifestyle, I have often been faced with people mocking the cause by mentioning PETA's campaigns such as "Sea Kittens" and their games such as "Cooking Momma: Momma Kills Animals The Unauthorized Addition". Unintentionally, I feel like some of PETA's more extremist campaigns have gone past a purpose and more of a shock factor, and these tactics have now become a hurtle to not only them, but all vegan activists alike. Either way, this is my letter to them, and I'd love if you'd share your thoughts also.

I would like to personally start off by saying that PETA gave me great information while I made the transition between going from a flexitarian, to vegetarian, to vegan while also hindering my cause when trying to share information with others.

The efficiency of Peta is absolutely amazing. I get vital information texted to my phone and email when ever the administration posts or sends anything, the amount of information and pamphlets is great, the efficiency in which I had received this information in my mail was amazing, the graphics and photographs are very professional, and their ability to attract attention to the cause of animal rights and welfare are better than any cause I have ever seen.

However, I feel that there are a few things that also make Peta the biggest threat to the cause in which it tries to fight for when it comes to marketing its ideas.

I think that the most bipartisan issue would be the Peta ads featuring women insinuating that they are naked. I, myself, see the human body as a beautiful thing and support the display of pornographic material, seeing that it is only natural and inevitable when sexual drive coexists with the digital age. I also realize that featuring such ads, undoubtably, creates a lot of attention and is great for marketing, after-all, the public wants to see a naked celebrity more than pretty much anything these day. But, I believe, that this is incredibly counter-productive. A majority of the time, it is very hard for minors to convince their parents to allow them to become vegan, or even vegetarian, with the amount of false dietary information mass-marketed to the public. With the naked women on billboards, tvs, magazines, and the internet also available to these parents, their opinion of a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle turns sour from the start. This crosses out a whole entire marketable group of clientele, and maybe the greatest. People probably most apt to turn to the aforementioned lifestyle are those not influenced by the culture and values of the Reagan Administration, seeing that the USDA underwent a huge turn in marketing and administration during the 1980's. By turning off their parents, Peta inherently erases a huge market.

Whenever I mention that I am vegetarian, especially that I am vegan, a lot of times I hear about absolutism and PETA, even people mockingly mentioning the "Sea Kittens" campaign. This has not only been a problem that I have been faced with, but one the whole vegetarian community, whether ovo-lacto or vegan alike. The treatment of animals is something we all care about undoubtably, and it is horrible that there is such a division in a minority. What we are faced with is the split between abolitionists and welfarists, and this will always exist; however, (as cliche the saying as it may be) with the amount of power Peta has, comes a great amount of responsibility, meaning the lives and welfare of animals, the planet, and the indirect meals able to be fed to the hungry due to this lifestyle, are resting in its hands. Bruce Friedrich, VP of Peta, also has stated in a recent post that being an absolutist is the worst way to attract people to this cause. The members of Peta should, of course, not give up their strong convictions of remaining not only meat free, but egg and dairy free, but being that Peta is so big, I believe that it is the organization's responsibility, with all of its money, resources, and recognition, to advocate in such a way that helps the most amount of animals being that this is its perceived cause.

I would also humbly recommend, as that the cause is the mentioned, that Peta interact and support the whole spectrum of organizations interested in animal welfare, a big one including Meat Free Mondays. This, again, is helping support animal welfare in the way appealing to the most amount of people possible, and also could be viewed as a gate way to vegetarianism and so forth if possible.

I can honestly say that Peta has done an amazing job at marketing, and like any project, there will always be debatable discussion, details, and mess ups. Like all people in this community, both Peta and I just want to, and are strongly convicted to, the cause of helping the well being of animals. Thank you so much for your time in reading this and helping facilitate action hoping to help a worthy purpose.

My regards,

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