Written by PETA
… peas, love, and understanding? As a fairly decent-size Elvis Costello fan, I can't believe that I didn't know until picking up a recent copy of the New Yorker that The Imposter is a vegetarian—and apparently has been for a couple of decades. He reportedly stopped eating meat and was inspired to write the 1983 protest song "Pills and Soap" ("We're going to melt them down for pills and soap") after watching an animal rights documentary. Can I get an amen for an Elvis-timonial?
Written by Alisa Mullins
Thanks for all of your wonderful comments on this Win It Wednesday. The winners of Eating Animals are Kim, Jenna, Brandon, Alyson, and Rachel. Congratulations!
To say that every person who picks up the latest book by bestselling author Jonathan Safran Foer walks away illuminated wouldn't really be stretching the truth. Eating Animals, Foer's first foray into nonfiction, hit bookstore shelves today, but the book has already influenced Natalie Portman to go vegan and has sparked intelligent conversation in the New Yorker and on NPR (to name just a few media outlets) about the moral, health, and environmental implications that most people ignore when they sit down to a steak dinner.
For this week's "Win It" Wednesday, not only are we giving you a chance to win a copy of Eating Animals, we also have an interview with the author to share with you. I'm calling it "Four With Foer."
Enjoy the Q&A, and then learn how you can win the book.
1) Children are naturally drawn to animals, but society often influences us into thinking that eating meat is normal and OK. How will you educate your children concerning your family's choice to be vegetarian?
The burden of education falls to parents who feed their children meat. Killing animals for food—even when done in the most humane ways—is antithetical to everything else parents teach their children about animals. Animals are the heroes of children's books, the stuffed toys kids fall asleep with, pets, objects of fascination and wonder. No parent would stand idly by as his or her child abused an animal.
None of this necessarily says anything about the rightness or wrongness of eating animals—we raise our children with all different kinds of over-simplicities, half-truths, and make believe. But in the three years I spent researching animal farming, I didn't meet a single slaughterer who was perfectly comfortable with killing animals. That says something. Our taste for animals can be lost, but our discomfort with what we do to them cannot.
In any case, my son is now old enough to understand that he doesn't eat animals, and that most of his friends do. We've had numerous conversations about it, but he's never needed a second explanation for why we don't.
2) Of all the horrible things that you witnessed on factory farms while writing this book, is there a particular instance that sticks with you?
The real horror of factory farming is not found in the instance, but the rule. It's a shame that most people's exposure to the meat industry comes through horror videos of slaughterhouses. While such images do correspond to very real events (which are productive and necessary to document and share), they are, even at the worst farms, the exception. And unfortunately, they can conceal something that is far more horrible: the everyday, systematized cruelty and destruction. In a way, videos of animals being tortured are a distraction that the meat industry is probably happy to have, as they suggest that the fault is with workers. The fault is not with workers, but the system itself. It is simply impossible to raise the number of animals we are currently raising for food without making their lives miserable. The misery is built into the system. Another system could take this system's place. But a movement toward small, family farms will require people to eat much, much less meat. And that's not going to happen any time too soon. In the meantime, the most important thing is to come to terms with the dominance and destruction of factory farming, and reject it.
3) One of our campaigns at PETA asks people, "If your dog tasted like pork, would you eat her?" In your book, you talk about your relationship with your dog and how it influenced your dietary decisions. Could you go into that briefly for our readers?
I spent the first 26 years of my life disliking animals. I thought of them as bothersome, dirty, unapproachably foreign, frighteningly unpredictable, and plain old unnecessary. I had a particular lack of enthusiasm for dogs—inspired, in large part, by a related fear that I inherited from my mother, which she inherited from my grandmother. As a child I would agree to go over to friends' houses only if they confined their dogs in some other room. If a dog approached in the park, I'd become hysterical until my father hoisted me onto his shoulders. I didn't like watching television shows that featured dogs. I didn't understand—I disliked—people who got excited about dogs. It's possible that I even developed a subtle prejudice against the blind. And then one day I became a person who loved dogs. I became a dog person.
The first full chapter of my book explores our divergent attitudes toward dogs and fish—fish being at the far end of the spectrum of our regard. I write about a simple trick that backyard astronomers use: If you are having trouble seeing something, look slightly away from it. The most light-sensitive parts of our eyes (those we need to see dim objects) are on the edges of the region we normally use for focusing. Eating animals has an invisible quality. Thinking about dogs and their relationship to the animals we eat is one way of looking askance and making something invisible visible.
4) Who do you hope will benefit from reading Eating Animals?
I don't expect readers to come to the same conclusions that I do, but I hope that they will agree with me about the urgency and importance of the problems. I can respect those who, after reading my book, decide to move in a direction that isn't the one I've chosen for myself. (I can even respect those who chose not to move at all.) But I can't respect that all-too-common response of, "I don't want to know about it." Such willed ignorance—which, by the way, I have spent the better part of my life practicing, and in other areas continue to practice—sucks.
We have five copies of Foer's newest book to give away. How do you win? This week's contest is easy peasy. To enter, fill out the form below by November 18, 2009, and we will notify the lucky winners by November 20, 2009. Good luck!
This contest has now ended.
Written by Shawna Flavell
Poor Ella PhantzPeril. Everywhere she tries to go, she gets a chilly reception, even though she is drop-dead gorgeous and was designed by renowned New Yorker cover artist Harry Bliss.
First, Kansas City gave her the cold shoulder when we tried to arrange for her to take up residence in a city park for a month to coincide with a visit from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The city banished her because of her "political" message. Now, St. Louis has said she is unwelcome because she is an "advertisement."
Since all we want to do is remind the public about the abuse that elephants endure while constantly traveling and performing in circuses, separated from their families and their natural environment, we are crying "foul."
We say that both rejections sound an awful lot like infringements on free speech, and we're not taking them lying down.
Keep checking back, and we'll be sure to let you know when Ella finds a home.
As the high cost of health care was debated this week in the nation that was once the most powerful on Earth and is now just the fattest, two announcements were made. Time showed a slab of meat on its cover and declared, "The real cost of cheap food" (meat, in particular) costs Americans big-time when it comes to our health. And KFC--whose suppliers have been caught on camera breaking chickens' legs and wings and scalding the birds to death in order to produce "cheap" chicken--came out with a new "sandwich" that substitutes fried chicken parts for bread and is stuffed with artery-clogging and waistline-expanding bacon and cheese. Why would KFC executives decide to do that? For the same reason that there is a Whopper and a Fifth Third Burger: Because they know that people want unhealthy foods almost as much as they want health care.
Also this week, the fat hit the pan over PETA's pro-vegetarian billboard in Jacksonville, Florida, which read, "Save the Whales. Cut the Blubber. Go Vegetarian," and led to the PETA website where people could download our free "Vegetarian Starter Kit" as well as take the "30-Day Veg Pledge." There wasn't a peep about the advertisements for meals that spell death to one million animals per hour and that contribute to our nation's ever-expanding waistlines. There were no angry phone calls and blog messages about the audacity of the purveyors of the chicken and cheese that is turning humans into blubbery masses, or..."whales."
America's obesity epidemic calls for tough love à la Dr. Phil and America's Biggest Loser, not more coddling and mock shock over a billboard pointing out that the majority of fat people need to have some discipline and remember that being fat means being a bad role model to our children, many of whom are now so fat themselves that "teeter-totter" has come to describe their wobbly gait. Only three percent of the population has a medical condition that genuinely prevents them from losing weight. The rest of the obese people hiding behind them are obese because they shovel in food and haven't a clue (or don't want to have a clue) about a healthy diet. They haven't listened to or perhaps haven't heard the polite admonitions from health experts (real ones) urging them to eat their fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and beans. So America is getting fatter, largely because we don't realize that killing animals and squeezing the cheese out of them, perhaps especially the cheese, is slowly killing us too.
A study published last year in the journal Obesity found that if current trends continue, nearly 90 percent of adults will be overweight or obese by the year 2030 and the number of overweight children will double. This is a serious health crisis: Research has shown that higher body mass index is associated with a greater risk of premature death from all causes. For example, according to the American Heart Association, obesity contributes to heart disease, America's number one killer. What's more, one out of every six health-care dollars will be spent on costs related to our growing girth.
Going meat-free can make a huge difference. Studies show that vegetarians are, on average, 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters and that a vegetarian diet reduces our risk of heart disease by 40 percent and adds seven or more years to our lifespan. A study published in The American Journal of Medicine found that people who eat a low-fat vegan diet (no meat, no eggs and no dairy foods) lose about a pound per week--even without exercising or counting calories.
PETA's billboard was fueled by a healthy respect for all the animals who are raised cruelly and killed in painful ways as well as for our own species's potential to be kind and healthy. I read the communiqués from fat people who said "thank you" and from those who told us where we can go. To all the people considering gastric bypass or tummy-tuck surgery or who tried a low-carb diet and only got constipation and bad breath in return, I say, just try it: Choose the oatmeal with Silk soy milk instead of bacon and milk; the bean instead of the beef burrito; and the mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers instead of the meat balls. All animals would thank you for it if they could, and I'm betting that you will feel better, both inside and out.
Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk
Thanks for all of your wonderful comments on this Win It Wednesday. The winner of Veganopoly is Jenny. Congratulations!
At my house, we turn Scrabble into "Vegan Scrabble" by tripling points for animal-friendly words. Instead of seven measly points, "t-o-f-u" is suddenly worth a whopping 21 points. It can get a little heated, and game night at my house often goes like this:
My husband: "Applesauce?! I've never baked in my life! How am I supposed to know applesauce can be an egg replacer?"
Me: "Well, you should try baking once in a while. You'd learn a lot—and improve your Scrabble game."
My husband: "And you should try not cheating once in a while."
Me: [Feigning shock] "Well, I never …"
Veganopoly to the rescue!
In a vegan twist on an old classic, players try to succeed in the restaurant biz instead of becoming the main course. My husband will no longer be able to claim that I have an unfair advantage on game nights.
Luckily for you, I can't enter "Win It" Wednesdays or I'm certain somehow I'd be the winner of the Veganopoly board game we're giving away. But you can win it. Simply list the ways in which your vegan diet has improved your health. We'll select one winner who offers the most complete and compelling list of reasons to go vegan.
Written by Karin Bennett
Oops, they did it again. Tyson Fresh Meats, a subsidiary of Tyson Foods, has been fined $2 million for pumping untreated animal waste (to the tune of 5 million gallons a day) into the Missouri River. The reason for the fine is that they agreed in 2002 to knock it off and, well, they didn't.
It's a given that cows on factory farms are forced to live most of their lives in feces-filled holding pens, and it was so nice of Tyson to share that crap with everyone who relies on the Missouri river for drinking and bathing water.
And if you think this is an isolated case, think again. In 2002, a Cargill-owned hog farm was fined $1 million for illegally dumping animal waste, and Smithfield Foods, the world's largest hog producer, has been fined $12.6 million for polluting the Pagan River, just to name a couple of examples.
Of course, water pollution is just one of the many ways that factory farming wreaks havoc on the environment. Don't even get us started on greenhouse-gas emissions, deforestation, and wasted fossil fuels.
KFC has just started test-marketing a new "sandwich" that is sure to have customers beating down its doors (sarcasm alert).
I'm going to ignore for now that countless pigs, cows, and chickens will suffer for this sucker (and I'm betting that the "secret" in the sauce is crushed ducklings).
Instead, I'm going to bring to your attention its nutritional value—or lack thereof. While KFC won't release the Double Down's fat and calorie stats, there's plenty of speculation. The Vancouver Sun's educated "guess-timate" is that "this one menu item can be estimated to supply more than the daily recommended allowance in fat (124%), saturated fat (117%), cholesterol (105%), sodium (125%) and protein (194%), as well as 61% of your daily recommended calorie intake" and "compares closely to the fat, salt and calorie totals of three McDonalds Big Macs put together …."
In other words, eating a Double Down makes Russian Roulette look like child's play.
What happened to KFC being the "better-for-you option for health-conscious customers"? Its carcinogenic grilled chicken wasn't much better, but this oozing pile of grease just screams, "We're out to kill you." Keep up the genius marketing, KFC. You're doing our job for us.
The folks at PETA Asia-Pacific are pros at cranking up the heat to deliver sizzling-hot demonstrations and ads. So I can guarantee that this sneak peak of the upcoming "All Animals Have the Same Parts" ad, which features Filipina model, singer, and vegan Geneva Cruz, is sure to have you turning your thermostat down a few notches.
Geneva and PETA Asia-Pacific want to remind people that animals are made of flesh, blood, and bone, just as humans are. It's just as wrong to kill a pig, cow, or chicken for your dinner as it would be to kill your tennis partner or the kid next door (even if he does play Metallica a smidge too loud).
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
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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.