You who read this blog know that I’m an animal rights supporter and a contributer to PeTA. I’ve defended them, wild tactics and all, publicly and even with members of my own family. The current “PeTA save the whales” campaign that includes a billboard implying that obese people are “whales” who can be “saved” by a vegetarian diet (the billboard is shown at the bottom of this post) is, however, appalling for a number of reasons:
(1) This shaming (and shameful) approach is cruel. PeTA’s very name includes the word “ethical.” They’re People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Human beings are animals and this is ugly, insulting, unethical, and unkind.
(2) It won’t work because shaming people always makes things worse. I know: I was shamed for nearly 30 years because of eating and weight. You know what I did every time it happened? I ate something!
(3) It won’t work because a diet — any diet — isn’t enough. I’ve kept off over 60 pounds for over twenty-five years eating vegan food. It’s a fabulous way to eat for health, weight loss, ethical considerations, and a sustainable planet, but people who are obese (and even up-and-down dieters who never make it to obesity) need more than another diet, even a good one. Until the empty hole inside is dealt with by a loving approach that takes the whole person into consideration, any kind of food plan is worthless in the long run. (For dealing with the empty hole, I recommend Overeaters Anonymous. There’s more in my books The Love-Powered Diet; Fat, Broke & Lonely No More; and Fit from Within.)
(4) It makes vegetarians — and that includes me — look heartless, and vicious, and like we really do only care only about 4-footed animals, bipeds be damned. Dedicated animal welfare and animal rights activists work diligently to let the rest of the world know that we are caring people — caring all ’round. Someone who works to help the blind is never faulted for not helping the deaf; it’s understood that people are called to different causes, different passions. We who are called to work for animals have to continually defend this choice. When someone puts up a billboard like this, it deletes a great deal of the work we’ve done.
PeTA: you’ve done so many wonderful things. You’ve made a genuine difference for non-human animals in my lifetime. You have mitigated suffering on this planet and that is a holy thing. But today: shame on you. This time, even for me, you really have gone too far. And that makes me sad, because I know your commitment, tenacity, and effectiveness. Those, combined with a dose of humane treatment for all — not the travesty shown below — really could change the world.
Someone who read this post suggested that I include PeTA’s contact info for people to voice their opinions. The main website is www.peta.org
. The e-mail I have is firstname.lastname@example.org.