Written by PETA
We've all been there—we know that cruelty to animals is wrong, and we're confident that the choices we make about what to eat, wear, and buy are necessary to stop it. But when we're trying to explain our values to our friends and family and answer their questions, we can't always find the right words. One hour with PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk will help. Ingrid recently gave a talk to employees at Google's headquarters to explain the animal rights philosophy and why it matters—and she doesn't mind your taking the words right out of her mouth.
"If you don't want something done to you, then please don't do it to somebody else who has feelings like yours," she told the audience. "It's the golden rule, really. That's all it is. Just extended, as I think it should be, to every other living being."
At Google, Ingrid discussed the major ways in which we abuse animals, including eating them, wearing them, experimenting on them, and using them for entertainment, and why we need to stop. "We have a compartmentalized view of animals," she says. "Some we love dearly and we would defend as we would defend our child. Then there are others …."
"Kindness is a virtue that must be a virtue in principal and in practice," says Ingrid. "The package an individual comes in should be absolutely irrelevant. They're all individuals and that, I believe, is the heart of what we have to remember in our treatment of others."
Written by Michelle Sherrow
I've never understood why some bars and restaurants line their establishments with dead heads—and I don't mean the tie-die type. I'm referring to the stuffed heads of animals. No amount of Zinfandel can ease the anxiety and sadness I feel under the glassy-eyed stare of a dead moose or deer head. Ugh.
Now it's the owners of said bars and eateries who are feeling anxious about those dead heads. A Manhattan hot spot, White Slab Palace, has been slapped with a lawsuit by a patron who claims she suffered a concussion and chronic neck pain after a 150-pound moose head fell on hers—noggin, that is.
With the New Year in full-swing (and lawsuits looming in the background), now is the perfect time to ditch the dead animal décor and go faux. PETA has written to the National Restaurant Association and offered to send free animal-friendly replicas made of cardboard or plastic to bars and restaurants that decide to 86 dead (animal) heads from their establishments.
PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk points out, "Few sights are more off-putting at dinner than a dead head looming over the plate, and who wants to be reminded of blood sports while they're sipping a Bloody Mary." Hear, hear! I couldn't agree more. How about you?
Written by Karin Bennett
So, who watched The Colbert Report last night? I did, of course, but that's not unusual for me. Once again, Stephen's endless pursuit of hard-hitting news has led him to feature PETA's ideas—and Ingrid was on the show!
Colbert interviewed Ingrid on a subject that's either revolutionary or revolting, depending on your point of view: in vitro meat. As you may remember, PETA is offering 1 million dollars to the first team of scientists that can develop a method to produce viable, commercially available, lab-grown chicken meat by 2010. If the in vitro meat looks and tastes just like the "real thing" and can be sold at a competitive price, then even those who refuse to kick their meat addictions will have no justification for the continued slaughter of animals for food.
As you may have seen in last night's episode, scientists are already tackling this, ahem, meaty issue. And hey, who knows—maybe the "Colbert Bump" was exactly what this contest needed! We anticipate an absolute flood of entries in the very near future.
As for in vitro meat, what does the PETA Files nation think—revolutionary or revolting?
Written by Amanda Schinke
These days, it may seem like no one can stop gushing about their Valentine's Day plans, but for those of us whose brains haven't melted to love-mush, we are launching a contest to celebrate February's real holiday: Presidents' Day.
We're giving away a pair of inspirational books written by two leaders who know about making an impact on the world: PETA President Ingrid Newkirk's One Can Make a Difference: How Simple Actions Can Change the World and the Dalai Lama's Becoming Enlightened. Both offer moving stories and guidance for making the small changes in your life that can make a big change in the world. And because most of us will enjoy a day off on Presidents' Day (another reason why the holiday may be superior to Valentine's Day), what better time is there to settle down for a good, inspiring read and get some tips on taking action to help animals in need?
So what are you waiting for?
Written by Liz Graffeo
The following is an op-ed from PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk
Like many who watched President Barack Obama’s inauguration, I wasn’t made in America, but I’m a typical American: I’m from somewhere else.
In my case, I was conceived in Denmark, grew up on the wild, rugged Cornish coast of England and was sent to school in the Orkney Islands, crossing the sea in a light plane. Next stop, France, where we children wore clogs to school, then eight years among the bears in the everlasting snows near Shimla, India, followed by a marriage in Spain during the frightening days of martial law under General Franco. My home is now a medium-sized riverside town in the United States. I’ve been an American for the last 30 years.
America is a melting pot—I can describe the people of this country by talking about the people of Uganda, Uruguay or Utah. Some Americans may move people to tears of joy while others provoke them to react with disgust, but Americans are no better or worse than anyone else. We are all of us preoccupied with our own worries about relationships and children, health and mortality. Some are bursting with love, while others are scarred and filled with hate. Most are a bundle of mixed emotions.
But there are some universal values that transcend all differences and create a bond between people—and animals—such as understanding, helping and sacrifice. Once when I was in India, I saw a homeless woman on a bridge remove a handful of boiled rice from the hem of her skirt, place it on a flat leaf and push it a few inches away from her. A mother street dog appeared, wagging her tail very softly, humbly, her head down in a submissive pose. The woman let the mother dog eat, squatting beside her and guarding her so that she could feel safe while she took her meal.
These values were also present when a plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge in Washington, D.C., one winter, its wing flaps too frozen to move. People of all nationalities, for it was Washington after all, were caught in their cars on that bridge. News footage showed many people fleeing on foot as best they could. Others leaned over the bridge rail, frantically trying to determine whether there was anything that they could do, anything at all, even shouting encouragement over the wind and the snow to the passengers trying to stay alive in the frigid water below.
When tales were told afterward, it was no surprise that, finding themselves in a cabin filling up with ice water, some people had trampled and shoved aside other passengers in their panic to stay alive. But one man, an American, remained in the river, his body half in, half out of the plane, using his strength to hoist other, less able passengers out of the wreckage. He helped for as long as he could before his fingers and feet froze and he died. I am sure that he did not ask or care where anyone was from.
America is called the “melting pot” because it is home to people of all races, creeds, colors and religions. Yet America is not perfect, and among our citizens, we have the best and the worst and the middling. Within a few generations, the young often forget or even disavow their grandparents’ or earlier ancestors’ migrations, but no one can alter the fact that all of us, even those of us called Native Americans, are from somewhere else. And all of us are, in the ways that truly count, simply residents of this planet with the potential to be compassionate citizens.
Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk
When President-elect Barack Obama was born, numerous U.S. states would have prohibited his black Kenyan father from marrying his white Kansan mother. The Voting Rights Act was still a few years away, and the Supreme Court's order to desegregate schools was being fought tooth and nail. Look at how far we have come. Who alive then would have believed that just a few short decades later, Americans would elect their first black president?
We have broken through a significant barrier, but we cannot stop there. We must now break down the barrier that prevents us from caring about all the "others" who are "not like us," regardless of race, regardless of gender, and regardless of species.
Prejudice and oppression come about because of a belief that "we" are important and that "they" are not.
In the days of slavery, for example—not so long ago—some people honestly believed that African men did not feel pain as white men do, that African women did not experience maternal love as white women do. And so it was quite acceptable to brand men's faces with a hot iron and to auction off slaves' children and send them vast distances away from their mothers. All evidence was to the contrary, yet highly educated people defied their own eyes, ears, and common sense by denying the facts before them. Society accepted this horrible exploitation, and then, as now, it takes courage to break away from the norm, even when the norm is ugly and wrong.
Today, we have abolished human slavery, at least in theory. But we continue to enslave all the others who happen not to be exactly like us but who, if we are honest with ourselves, show us that they experience maternal love as we do, that if you burn them, they feel the same pain as we do, that they desire freedom from shackles as we do.
In their natural homes, elephants live in complex multigenerational social groups, mourn their dead, and remember friends and relatives from years past. Yet we tear them away from their families, confine them with chains to stinking and squalid boxcars, and beat them into performing ridiculous tricks for our amusement.
Rats are detested, yet even these tiny animals—who are mammals like us—have been found to giggle (in frequencies that can't be heard by the human ear) when they are tickled and will risk their own lives to save other rats, especially when the rats in peril are babies. Although no mouse or rat bankrupted our economy, invaded Iraq, or set poison out for us, we dismiss their feelings as inconsequential and somehow beneath our consideration.
Mother pigs sing to their young while nursing, and newborn piglets run joyfully toward their mothers' voices. On factory farms, a sow spends her entire life surrounded by the cold metal bars of a space so small that she can never turn around or take even two steps. Chickens who are raised for the table fare even worse. Their beaks are seared off with hot blades, and the birds will never enjoy the warmth of a nest or the affectionate nuzzle of a mate.
The time has come to stop thinking of animal rights as distracting or less deserving of our energy than other struggles for social justice. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." All oppression, prejudice, violence, and cruelty are wrong and must be rejected no matter how novel the idea or how inconvenient the task.
And for those who think that we will never be able to achieve the dream of liberation from oppression, not just for human beings but for all beings, regardless of race or gender or species, I have just three words for you: Yes. We. Can.
Earlier this year, I was driving along the crowded streets of Hyderabad in India, near one of the Mahatma Gandhi shrines, when I saw something I'd never seen before that almost flipped my lid. I was there to launch the Indian version of PETA's kids' book, 50 Awesome Things Kids Can Do to Save Animals, and I knew instantly that kids had to get involved in the atrocity that was unfolding right before my eyes.
It was a few days into the annual kite-flying contest, which Hyderabad is known for, and kitemakers were squatting at every curb, spinning colored kite string. However, the string was being coated in spun glass, much as you would coat a stick with cotton candy. This makes the string razor-sharp and able to rip through an opponent's kite in a millisecond.
Errant kites, set free to entangle in phone poles and trees, rip birds to shreds. So I set off with Jayasimha, one of the great movers and shakers in PETA India, to a bird sanctuary where we watched the volunteers gearing up for the coming horror: a grueling three-day festival in which hundreds of vultures, parrots, crows, and other birds were going to be wounded, many of them fatally.
PETA India started a petition asking kids never to buy glass-coated string, called "Manja." And here is the first demonstration against it in Hyderabad:
After learning from PETA just how hideous life can be for great apes who are kept captive and forced to perform in advertisements, thanks go to Ad Council president and CEO Peggy Conlon for signing our "Great Ape Humane Pledge," committing never to use great apes in ads! This means the Ad Council won't ever support the abuse of great apes in advertising.
To express our gratitude in PETA style, we sent Conlon a box of vegan chocolate chimpanzees and a big "thank you" for joining the host of companies that have stood up for great apes. The Ad Council joins the likes of Subaru, Honda, Yahoo!, PUMA, Movietickets.com, and SEGA, which also recently made this fantastic pledge.
Oh, and PETA will be following up with the CEOs of all the top U.S. ad agencies that sit on the Ad Council's executive board, requesting that they follow suit, so … expect more on this campaign in the near future! Of course, if you work in the ad world, you can save us the trouble of tracking you down by signing PETA's "Great Ape Humane Pledge" today! Yes, chocolate monkeys would follow shortly!
Written by Sean Conner
Are you as excited as we are about this?! Following up a string of victories for animals this week, a new TV series is coming to keep the party goin'! Whale Wars is the newest reality show from Animal Planet, and it features none other than our favorite sibling on the high seas, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Do you know about these good folks who so deserve to have their own show? For 30 years they've successfully fought for the rights of sea animals the world over, using nonviolent methods of direct action. And starting this Friday at 9 p.m. E/P, we all get to join in on the adventure!
The Sea Shepherd site describes the show this way: "During Sea Shepherd's Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign: Operation Migaloo in 2007/08, Animal Planet had a camera crew on board a campaign that saved the lives of nearly 500 whales, leaving the Japanese fleet with less than half of their quota and costing them tens of millions of dollars." I literally "whooped" out loud the first time I read that.
Impressively, this was actually the third time the crew met its own quota of saving hundreds of whales. Mind you, this incredible work is being done in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. You read that right. Animals who should be protected are being slaughtered under the guise of "research." Since it seems that no government is willing to enforce the law, the crew members risk their lives by taking this responsibility upon themselves.
This show is both timely, in light of the great strides that have recently been made for animals, and heart warming, as it gives credit to unsung heroes. But just think of how many people the show will make aware of the plight of whales! I'm so looking forward to staying in on Friday nights!
You can read an exciting piece by Sea Shepherd warrior Pete Hammarstedt in Ingrid's new book One Can Make a Difference.
Written by Missy Lane
The following is a guest post from PETA Europe's Fish & Chimps blogger Alexia Weeks:
Avid Fish & Chimps fans were probably wondering why PETA didn't jump in with teeth bared after Kate Winslet posed naked on what looks like a real fur throw in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. But behind the scenes, we were busy at work contacting Kate—the beauty we've never, ever seen wearing animal fur.
So we sent a note to Kate pointing out how shocked we were to see photos of her posing with fur. And we were right to be shocked! We had a very prompt response from Kate's rep and we have been assured that Kate never wears fur (as we suspected!). She was actually told at the photo shoot that the very real fur was fake. And that's not the first time that this sort of thing has happened! PETA US has heard from countless celebs that sneaky stylists at photo shoots can be rather coy when it comes to fur and whether it's real or not. So it seems Kate was duped—and with so many convincing fakes out there nowadays, it is easy to mistake the dead animals for the fake ones.
So, who thinks Kate should get naked with a faux-fur throw for PETA?
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.