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Fire Away! PETA VPs Are Ready to Answer Your Questions

Written by PETA | June 1, 2009

PETA founder Ingrid E. Newkirk offers hundreds of simple ways to stop cruelty to animals in her new book, The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights: Simple Acts of Kindness to Help Animals in Trouble, which was released today.

While Ingrid is out on the road promoting kindness on her book tour, PETA’s vice presidents are stepping up to our virtual podium for a Q&A with all of you PETA Files readers. They are poised to answer your hard-hitting animal rights and PETA questions. But first, some introductions are in order.

Meet the VPs

DanDan Mathews
Senior Vice President of Campaigns

PETA’s dashing senior VP was once a green-haired punk rocker who flipped burgers at McDonald’s. But when this pop-culture junkie breezed through PETA’s doors in 1985, it was clear that he was born to lead our campaigns. During his two decades at PETA, this author/concert coordinator/protester extraordinaire has been the brains (and brawn) behind some of PETA’s most colorful campaigns, including the ever-popular “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign. Dan lives by his personal motto: “Rest When You’re Dead.”

Just a sampling of the many PETA victories achieved under Dan’s watch include convincing Calvin Klein to stop designing with fur after leading a raid in Calvin’s office, pressuring GM to stop using animals in crash tests, and lobbying Gillette to halt product tests on animals. He’s lined up stars to protest, pose nude, or even go to jail for the cause, including Chrissie Hynde, Sir Paul McCartney, and Pamela Anderson. Dan was named one of the “Most Influential Gays” of the millennium by Genre and one of the “50 Most Beautiful Guys” by teen magazine YM.

He’s so funny and charming that it’s no wonder that my mom, Carla of “Ask Carla,” ignored her gay-dar and once daydreamed about setting him up with me.

Lisa LangeLisa Lange
Senior Vice President of Communications

Lisa coordinated the production of some of PETA’s most popular and successful videos and PSAs, including the hugely popular “Veggie Love” ad, a vegetarian ad featuring Alicia Silverstone in the buff, and a series of provocative videos for PETA’s Animal Birth Control campaign. She also assisted with the production of I Am an Animal, an award-winning HBO documentary about Ingrid E. Newkirk.

She’s influenced millions of viewers to consider animals during her smackdowns of animal exploiters on Today, CNBC, CNN’s Crossfire, Larry King Live, and Your World With Neil Cavuto. She’s appeared numerous times on The O’Reilly Factor and on countless other television and radio programs.

Lisa epitomizes vegan vitality and never stops thinking of ways to alleviate animal suffering—even when she’s doing sit-ups at dawn during her boot-camp workouts.

TracyTracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

Tracy oversees all of PETA’s campaigns as well as PETA’s marketing, corporate affairs, youth, and Web outreach efforts.

Let me take a deep breath before I start listing just a few of Tracy’s accomplishments. Whew. OK. She led successful efforts to persuade Mobil, Texaco, Shell, and other big oil corporations to cap their oil stacks to prevent thousands of birds and bats from burning to death. She participated in the infamous sit-in at Calvin Klein’s office (as mentioned above), which tipped the balance in convincing the clothing designer to abandon fur. She was instrumental in stopping NASA’s cruel Bion project, which involved sending primates into space. Her investigative and rescue work resulted in the first-ever cruelty charges filed against a factory farmer for cruelty to chickens.

Tracy is fearless and tireless in her efforts for animals, and no matter what the situation, she always remains cool, calm, and collected. I’ve always considered her a sort of female James Bond for animals.

So, what is it that you’re dying to know about these die-hard animal activists? Don’t be shy. Leave a question (or two) below, and we’ll have each of the VPs answer the most thought-provoking questions later this month.

Written by Karin Bennett

Commenting is closed.
  • Rose says:

    I would like to thank Tracy Reiman for her comments regarding the annual “fish toss” at Seabreeze Park on Manatee County’s Terra Ceia Island, Florida noted in today’s St. Petersburg Times. I totally support PETA’s mission in protecting all animals from abuse and neglect and for giving them a voice. I have always been particularly offended by the use of animals for entertainment as fish tosses, turkey bowling or tossing marbles at goldfish in bowls for a prize. I commend PETA for their continuing efforts and support them 100%. Thank you.

  • Ryan S says:

    Was browsing through some books at a dollar store and came acroos Dan’s book…really liked it..but than i got to page 253…and nothing…no more book…looked online and it would seem i’m missing 30 something pages…very annoying…but i loved the pages in the book that were actually in there..opened my eyes to a few things about animals i didnt realize..Thanks

  • Sarah L says:

    I know that dissection is completely wrong and I definetly don’t support it, however I will be taking a biology class where you dissect pigs, frogs, etc. I have the option to say no, but I feel like I will be missing out on important learning which is extremely important for me since I want to be a vet. What should I do?

  • Shawna Flavell says:

    Margarita Our forums are just what you’re asking for. You should go check them out httpwww.peta.orgforumsindex.asp.

  • Margarita says:

    Why don’t you have a blog where people can tell a about what do they do on behalf of animals and give other people ideas and how they dealt with hurdles they had to overcome sometimes.

  • Becky says:

    the disgustingly inhumane treatment of chickens produced for kfc is widely acknowledged but i can’t find any info about another popular restaurant swiss chalet. just wondering if they use similar practices unfortunatley i suspect so.

  • danielle-cecile says:

    I have been vegetarian for a year now and i am trying really hard to become vegan. I live in a meateating household and it is really hard to have dairy and egg free meals when the 4 others in your house eat it. Also my mom is worried about nutrition. Do you have any suggestions on makingfinding vegan foods and educating family about it? they seem to be worried about me dropping dead from malnutrition P

  • jamie says:

    Stevie…If you are so concerned about starving children what have you done to help them? There are people to help every cause. I happen to be a hard core animal activist and also donated my breastmilk to orphans in Africa with HivAIDS. Ask yourself “What are YOU doing to help?”

  • Judy Lyman says:

    Never once have I heard Al Gore mention the production of food animals as a contributor to global warming I may have missed it. I would like Peta to become more of a player in getting the message out to meat eaters and see you standing at his side when he delivers his message. Beef it’s not what’s for dinner.

  • Saucy says:

    Mitch You will not find a more socially conscience group of people then animal rights activists. Afterall it is not easy to be on the fringe of the mainstream though vegetarianism as stated recently in the NY times is now taking it’s place in the mainstream. I have personally suffered extreme prejudice I have lost jobs been evicted from homes lost friends I been mocked ridiculed laughed at threatened and assaulted. But still I keep pushin on. I fight for people as well especially in the past eight years since we have seen those who would like to erode our civil rights. I have filed at least ten actions in court. City state and federal. Mostly on my own with one exception. Thank you Jan Schneider aspiring congresswomen 13th district Fla. All FOR PEOPLE. Most of whom who will just turn around and kick in the gut smash your head up against the wall bear false witmess against you rob you ect.ect.ect. Yeah people are really something. Quite frankly it is very easy to not care about people. They are selfish self centered hardhearted thoughtless with their heads in the sand. But still I keep pushing on. When I want to give up on people other then my vegan brethren and sisterhoodmy “brain” comes into play. I realise that if people are treated like throwaway pieces of trash there is no hope for animals. But enough about me. “The afflictions of the Righteous are many but God delivers them out of them all” Here is a name we all know and love Ms. Gloria Steinem. Last week at lunch at New York’s famed vegan eatery seated right next to me there she was that ICON OF SOCIAL JUSTICE sitting down to a vegan lunch. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking writing about it. Yes Mitch there is a STRONG CONNECTION between animal right activist and civil rights activists.

  • Mel says:

    Toby the answer’s NO not any religion I know of in America does cruelty to animals. Some religions such as Buddhism would also take that as an affront as I know of one religion that doesn’t take medicines which are tested on animals sometimes and Buddhism doesn’t kill any animal because they treat animals with respect. Of course there is also Hinduism which believes in reincarnation therefore the animals aren’t killed because they could be relatives and they don’t want to get reincarnated into cockroaches. Then again given that PETA doesn’t seem to want to post up any hardball questions I ask I wouldn’t be surprised if this is not put up either.

  • VeganKy says:

    Stevie Eating meat and starving people go hand in hand. The animals that are raised for food eat most of the grain produced. So if we stopped eating meat then there would be enough grain to feed over 8 billion people. Most people whom are concerned about animal rights are just as concerned about the rights of people all over the world. By not eating meat we are contributing. That’s how we justify it.

  • Tamra says:

    Teddy Green If the video includes dogspuppies China and fur….it’s NOT a hoax. Their treatment of dogs for fur in general actually is horrific to say the least. There is plenty of info on the internet about it. You should probably view one of the videos that are out there.

  • Anna says:

    i had seen videos of chinese fur farms meat farms puppy mills and labs and i really feel so terrible and i really want to do something about all of this i just graduate from high school so can u recommend me a career which make me help animals i know that is what i want to do for life what do u think??

  • Toby Saunders says:

    What would be a productive politically savvy way to link religious faith and cruelty to other animals in a way that reduces suffering while simutaneously raising public consciousness to the power of science could Richard Dawkins play a positive role considering he wants to be vegan but lacks ‘social courgage’?

  • Amanda says:

    Vanessa I always date meat eaters and have a successful conversion rate. I think of dating other veggies as preaching to the choir but setting a compassionate example for people outside of the movement helps way more animals!

  • Bruce says:

    I had a question that was very much so related to Aneliese’s comment regarding having a career in animal advocacy. I have no complaints at all with my current job and in fact enjoy what I do quite a bit. However there is a passion I have for animals and I think working with them or working a cause for animals is what I would love to be doing at some point in my life and not just part time. I would love to work for PETA I know where to find openings on your site but for those who may not live close to your headquarters where can I find work? I know there are organizations doing great work for animals all over the world so…any advice on where to begin to look? Do you have any sort of list or guide to get people started?

  • Aneliese says:

    Is there a way possible to have a career in animal advocacy? I want to work in animal welfare as a career but I don’t want to be a vet and I live in Canada. Any ideas?

  • Tamra says:

    Vanessa I think it would be tough! It is a lot easier to be accepting with people that aren’t as close to you. In a relationship you would have an upfront look into someone’s decision making process and would be wondering why the they were choosing meat products. How can I really respect this person if these are the types of the decisions they make? I know I want to be with someone who is likeminded in that department. It could be as important as religion is for some people.

  • Tamra says:

    Kelley Really? I thought it was easier to go the other way. I gave up all 4legged animals first then birds then seafood. I think the “grouping” is a good idea. Either way it’s a step in the right direction! Erika you might be able to talk to your cafeteria ladies at school. Sometimes they are generous in giving out leftovers. Try to get your hands on fruit that you can stockpile and at least bring home with you. When I was teaching there was always a plethora of fruit that no one wanted. That would be a start…..

  • Laura says:

    I’m looking for a friendly kitty litter. Will I get a straight answer if I call customer service?

  • teddy green says:

    There is an email circulating with a description and video of fur farming in China using dogs and puppies. A petition link is included in the email. The description of the ‘process’ was bad enough for me. I did not view the video. Your website has no info on this horrible torture. Is it a hoax???

  • Kathleen says:

    I want to know in the case of the 400 dogs being seized from the puppy mill…is there a law in place that will prevent that woman from ever owning another animal? Has PetA or the state brought animal cruelty and neglect charges against her? Will she likely spend time in prison for this atrocity? I have a hard time believing that these acts of abuse go on unnoticed for so long and then unpunished after they are discovered. There should be a law prohibiting anyone who is found abusing or neglecting an animal from ever owning another one in their lifetime and they should be forced to donate money to an animal rights group.

  • Melissa says:

    First off I just want to say thanks for the wonderful work you do sticking up for our furry feathery and even slimey friends! I love getting involved in all things animal but not living in a big city it’s not always easy. I respond to all the action alerts and my keyboard’s practically worn away from all the emails I send out but what else can I do?

  • Erika says:

    For my sophmore project i chose my presentation to be on Factory Farming. For the process of my project i decided to go vegan in order to get a well understanding. At home i do not get the suport for choosing to be vegan which leads to unhealthy eating which i do not want. I go to school and i do not have a job. I just want to know what can i do or better yet where can i get well priced vegan food? thank you for your time.

  • Mitch Goldsmith says:

    I am curious to know your thoughts on the importance of animal rights activists to be consciousness of other social justice movements both contemporary and historical. In his book Dan discusses a connection between those who abuse animals and those who treat LGBT persons cruelly. The Animal Liberation Display and Holocaust On Your Plate Display also unite several progressive struggles with animal rights. Does understanding and studying social justice movements help us become better activists for animals? Does PETA borrow tactics and strategies from other movements? Does discussing these connections between movements backfire and close peoples minds more often than they enlighten?

  • Celina says:

    Im became vegetarian in this year and when a said to a friend about it I saw in her face that Im the most strange person in the world! Im felling wonderful healthful happy and yes….strange too shes right!!.

  • Stevie says:

    How do you justify spending so much time worrying about animals when there are millions of children starving right now?


    i heard the truth about eggs. but i dont think i could do it sadliy . But i was thinking about haveing pet chickens and rosters to have eggs for me and my family. i hope that that could help the poor chickens. i ve stoped eating them.

  • Dave says:

    to SELENA Yes. But… you obviously havn’t seen the factory farm investigation videos have you? Like the video “Meet Your Meat” ? Could the site owner send this message to Selena? You guys should make a “reply” thing where you can reply to other peoples comments and they get notified of it.

  • Vanessa says:

    Hi As a vegetarian and now vegan my entire life I always wondered is it possible to be a strict animal rights activist and vegan but yet have a successful relationship with a meateater?

  • Marlar in Kansas says:

    I am a full out animal rights activist… no meat or seafood no fur or leather I never use products tested on animals and my friend and I protest puppy mills every weekend. I would like to switch from veterinarian to vegan yet I live in a small town and have a hard time finding products that would fit a vegan diet and the things I do find are usually grossly overpriced or not what I’m looking for. Any suggestions or ideas on how to expand my choices or find new food options?

  • Kelley says:

    Hi Selena! Try giving up meat one species at a time! First all seafood then all fowl then finally mammals. Change is not as dauting when done in tiny easy to master steps. You will find becoming a vegetarian is MUCH easier than you expected. Not eating animals is no big deal at all for usbut it means the world to them!

  • Alicia says:

    I would like to know if there are any future plans to do a protestgathering SOMETGHING to try and show the President and government that we need to address puppy mills and breeders. I have thought about trying to put something together myself in D.C. to try and show how important it is that they step in NOW. Working in rescue myself we are always at a crisis mode and working at full capacity. Of corse I may need to think smaller at first and try it in my state but I think a huge event will get more people thinking acting and activating new rules and regulations.

  • Brian says:

    I am still having a hard time understanding PETA’s ultimate goal. If no one eats trains or utilizes animals for work what is the natural next step? The animals will not be fed or maintained on farms as there is no profit to be made and the costs would be too great to keep the animals out of the goodness of peoples hearts. The animals would begin to roam for food and would ultimately begin to wander into more developed areas where people would begin to cause harm to them eith by accident hitting them with a car or on purpose to keep them away from their property. I think the natural order works in the ocean because man does not live there but on land these animals would begin to move into the populated areas as a byproduct of the search for food and water. I think protecting animals is a worthy cause but I don’t know how the process could ever work and have animals and humans coexist as equals because if we were all eating plants we would then be competing for the same food source.

  • Rachel A says:

    Selena small changes make a big difference. Think hard about the practices you want to support. Congratulations on standing up against the cruelty of skins. If you can reduce the meat you eat it will make a difference. I know it can be hard to think in such a way but farm animals really don’t deserve the way we treat them any more than animals raised for fashion. It’s less of a necessity than people think. Please don’t take this comment the wrong way… we just think in different paradigms. I wish you luck in everything you do.

  • Vicky says:

    I am a vegetarian. I love animals and once I saw the McCruelty video I said “I never want to eat there again” and I have resisted eating there for 2 months and will continue. I have to be around meat eaters every day at school and it makes me sick. I made a blog on called but haven’t told any of my friends yet. I don’t know if they will do what I suggested on there. Thank you PETA.

  • Matthew Ripley says:

    What are PETA’s thoughts on clams scallops oysters mussells?

  • selena says:

    is it possible to be apart of peta even tho you r a meat eater? but against fur and leather and what they do to these animals?