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TMZ Tackles the Nuances of Animal Rights Philosophy

Written by PETA | April 16, 2008

TMZ_Logo.JPGFirst of all, let me say that I’m a big fan of TMZ. They’re a hell of a lot of fun to read, and (most importantly), they cover stories about PETA whenever we do something awesome—which is a lot. But a blog they posted today, entitled “PETA – hypocrisy, table for one,” is kind of begging for a response—especially since it raises an issue that causes some confusion even within the animal rights movement. Their theory, if I understand it correctly, is that ethical vegetarians are hypocrites if they even step inside a restaurant that sells meat. I get where the idea is coming from, but it’s so fundamentally opposite to the way we actually need to do things if we want to make progress with animal rights that I feel like I should spell it out here.

As much as we’d like it to, Progress ain’t gonna come if we just sit here and wish with all our hearts that all the steakhouses go out of business. When progress does come, it comes in the form of steakhouses adding a veggie option or two to their menus. And then a couple more. And then, when they see that they’re big sellers, keeping them there, and in the process showing some of their regular customers that there are actually a whole lot of really tasty alternatives to meat. But that’s not going to happen if all the vegetarians in the world turn up their noses and refuse to eat at any restaurants that also sell animal products. Same deal with grocery stores—no one’s doing anyone any favors by refusing to shop at supermarkets that aren’t 100 percent vegan. The smart thing to do is to vote with your dollars, because if businesses don’t even know that there’s a big market for vegetarian options, they’re not going to have a whole lot of incentive for providing them.

One last thing on this—I’ve talked about the positive-reinforcement technique, but for every carrot, there’s also a stick, and that’s why PETA and other animal groups apply pressure to specific companies that are the absolute worst of the worst in the way they treat the animals they use, by calling for an all-out boycott until certain improvements are made. It’s a tried-and-true technique, and we’re going to keep using it. But it doesn’t mean that you should avoid going to a fast-food restaurant with your family and ordering the veggie burger. Because that would just be dumb.

Update: This whole thing started when TMZ reported that Morrissey was seen inside a steakhouse. Turns out they actually misreported it after all. My point still stands though.

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  • Lotus says:

    Whenever I try to convert my frends and family to vegeterianism they get super pissed at me and talk about ‘minding my own business’ and ‘their choice’. Well it was my choice to go vegeterian. Why can’t they respect that? My brother LIVES on meat but whenever I kick up a racket my parents yell at me and tell me off. It’s very depressing. But I’m still standing. I am VERY stubborn.

  • Aus Veg says:

    Thats a ok Michele. I totaly agree that we should definitely ‘vote with our dollars’. My family don’t even buy meat anymore thanks to my stance against it. Even my 21st was totaly vegetarian. And you know what? Everyone loved it! It’s amazing when you give people vegetarian food how much they like it and how they often say how much better it tastes. My Dad even said the other day about meat ‘I don’t miss it’. I was so pleased! So at your next social gathering make your friends some awesome vego food and I swear you’ll convert them! Peace out!

  • Adam says:

    I’d like to say I don’t fully agree with Peta. Yet I would love to see more vegetarian menus in fastfood and other restaurants. I might not be a vegetarian but I do try to limit the meat product I consume Furthermore I will admit the story on TMZ was hilarious and Morrissey’s music is fantastic.

  • Bill says:

    I’m so tired of the gotcha game animalhaters keep trying to play always looking for some way to call veggies hypocrits. When an environmentalist drives a hybrid people don’t call him a hypocrite for driving a car that still uses gas. Likewise animalsupports should neither expect of ourselves nor put up with others’ pseudoexpectations of purity. Everything one does that helps alleviate animal suffering should be applauded. If someone goes vegitarian just one day a week I don’t condemn him for the other 6 days I applaud him for reducing his meateating. When some unappologetic meateater shames vegitarians for not going far enough in helping animals fuck him! Jesus did not let the devil tell Him how to be a better Christian. Likewise I say to the gotcha animalhaters Get thee behind me.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Make a deal with your omni friends that sometimes you eat at an omni restaurant with veg options and then sometimes at a strictly veg locale. Here in Toronto the spiciest Indian food is genearally veg while they usually tone down the meat dishes. Apparently at Toronto’s Le Commensal strict veg they have more omnivores than vegetarians as customersof course there are fewer veggies populationwise. I do feel we should try to support vegonly venues but certainly not exclusively.

  • David says:

    I don’t consider myself a hypocrite for eating at nonexclusivelyvegan restaurants but I don’t consider it a positive act either. What these restaurants learn when vegetarians patronize them as PETA recommends is that they can have it all they can continue to profit from murder and they don’t even have to lose out on the vegetarian dollar as long as they provide a few “options.” Whereas if the vegetarian restaurant down the street is doing better than you are you’ll think twice about your own menu.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Just wanted to say anyone who hasn’t viewed the PETA video ‘Testing…One Two Three’ top right of home pagerabbit face should do so. It is excellent.

  • Michele says:

    Thank you lynda Deemer76 and Aus Veg. In an ideal world we would not have to spend our dollars at restaurants and grocery stores that sell meat as others have suggested above but since the ideal world does not exist at this time we just have to keep “voting” with our dollars. The demand for veg options pressures companiesrestaurants to provide tasty choices instead of forcing us to be limited to a boring garden salad every time we eat out with our nonveg friends. It also means that more and more people are starting to think about animal rights issues so it’s always a step in the right direction. Personally I don’t think I could eat at a steakhouse just because the smell of burning flesh would be too strong in a place like that. But roadhousetype restaurants don’t bother me that way and when I am with nonveg friends and they hear me inquiring about the ingredients of a particular meal it also makes THEM more aware of vegetarianismveganism.

  • wil says:

    Thank you thank you thank you. My boyfriend and I had this EXACT conversation last night after seeing this on TMZ TV. We like going to burger restaurants and getting veggie burgers it always gives us a chance to talk to the waitresswaiter about being vegetarianand we both love veggie burgers.

  • Aus Veg says:

    The bottom line is we can’t change things overnight. However I’m not going to stop eating at my fave restaurants just because they serve meat cause they all have awesome vegie options too. We all ate meat once remember? Who are we to judge who we once were. Yes don’t eat at KFC that is definetly hypocrisy. But for gods sake it’s simply ridiculous to say we should only shopeat at strictly vegie places. It’s impossible these days unfortunately. All we can do for now is simply make more humane choices when were out and about.

  • lynda downie says:

    Prior to reading this I would’ve argued that we should avoid places like steakhouses. But you make a strong case Jack. Choosing vegan options in a steakhouse may have an impact on the management waiting staff and chefs.

  • Deemer76 says:

    To those of you who say it’s unethical to even eat at a steakhouse or fastfood joint do you shop for food at supermarkets and stores that sell meat? Do you shop for clothes at stores carrying leather? Do you fly on airlines that serve other passengers meals containing meat? I suspect most of us do just as one may shop at Body Shop buy Tom’s of Maine or other brands even though they’re owned by companies that conduct animal testing or sell nonveg products. Therefore I do agree with PETA’s stance on this. It’s more about what you yourself purchase rather than where you do it.

  • friendly says:

    I’ve never even heard of an allvegan grocery store. So for me it’s either shop for veg products in an omnivore store or starve.

  • ashes says:

    “The smart thing to do is to vote with your dollars because if businesses dont even know that theres a big market for vegetarian options theyre not going to have a whole lot of incentive for providing them.” While I understand that supporting veggie menu options sends a message it also seems that supporting places like steakhouses which typically have only one or two nonmeatdairy options if any in any regard supports them overall. While these restaurants might eventually realize that some legitimate if small percentage of their business comes from selling nonmeatdairy items they will still be getting the business. If a large enough group of people stopped eating there altogether the restaurants eventually would get the same message and without taking in as much money overall. If enough people stopped eating at nonveggie restaurants it would be noticed and then instead of settling for one item on the menu at hundreds of restaurants there could be a market for bigger menus at a few purely veg restaurants per city. There does seem to be something hypocritical about refusing to eat meatdairy yourself but giving your money to a place that predominantly serves meatdairy. It allows that place to stay in business.

  • Dr.Breen says:

    Well they’re allowed to be neutral with you people right?

  • Lancelot says:

    We vegetariansvegans should avoid going to fastfood restaurants with our families friends or anyone. By giving them our money we support their leveling of rainforests and driving species to extinction to mass producespread meat products in this country. I would never go to a fastfood place to order a veggie burger because it is giving them economic support to destroy rainforests and therefore destroy the homes of the members of the animal kingdom we are trying to help. I would never NEVER set food in a steak house. However I can understand if a group of friends asked a vegetarian to go and the vegetarian went stood up for one’s beliefs and did not sink their teeth into animal flesh. It is hard to consistently only go to vegetarian resturaunts but we definitely should never give our money to fast food places and their ceaseless role in the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest for example. Two major causes for Amazon deforestation are 1 clearing land for cattle grazing to export beef and the US imports 7 from Brazil of which much ends up in fast food 2 clearing land for crops especially soy to export livestock feed.

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