PETA - the animal rights activist group whose monthly stage blood budget must run in the quadruple to quintuple digits - today staged a pro-vegan publicity stunt at the intersection of W. 45th Street and Broadway in New York City's Times Square. Legendary proponents of nearly-nude public antics, the cadre's toned and comely volunteers assumed corpse poses upon human-sized, plastic-swaddled (don't they know how hazardous that is?) "meat" trays bedecked with stickers proclaiming, "Billions of Animals Are Abused and Violently Killed Because You Eat Meat."
I respect vegans' point of view - I really do (except when they're calling me "sick" and "twisted" and wishing cancer upon me - because while I can live with the slurs, my pals with cancer surely would not wish that lot on anyone, no matter their eating habits), and devote plenty of blog inches to sensible discussion of ethics-based foodways. I'm also well aware that not all vegans are PETA members, nor do they support their tactics.
Here's my beef: while the issue is grave and grim (and yes, what person in their right mind doesn't think that animals deserve a better shake than they usually get?) the stunts often just seem silly.
I know from silly - I went to art school and was, at one point, convinced I'd make a living as a performance artist wearing cheesecloth dresses with corncobs sewn into them, clamping metal bird masks onto my face and performing poetry about, like, alienation and pain and rain and dead roses. No one took me seriously, and I can't blame them. PETA's stunts get attention - heck, I'm writing about them right now - but do they actually change hearts and minds, or just open the group up to ridicule?
It's easy to make fun - the aforementioned fake blood, the lettuce bras, the implication that fishermen are insufficiently endowed, the nudity (always with the nudity...). Plenty of people respond to any discussion of PETA with a riff that rather than People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, their own personal acronym is People Eating Tasty Animals. And then they probably go down a steak out of sheer spite of the bare, "bloodied" limbs waving pamphlets and platitudes in their face.
I'm rooting for the vegans and the vegetarians. I'm constantly considering and reconsidering my own omnivorous eating habits and wildly vary my own consumption of meat, especially when I read particular thoughtful, intelligent commentary from members of our readership who abstain. An excellent argument can have me (and by extension, my husband) on tempeh binges for days at a time, but wish a deadly disease on me or toss paint in my face? I’m surely not gonna take it out on the animals, but I’ll likely never take the cancer-wishers and paint tossers (and by extension their group) seriously.
And that’s a bloody shame.
Previously - Vegetarian activists try in-your-face tactics