PETA Asks Sesame Workshop to Reflect the Growing Number of Kids Who Are Vegan for Their Health, the Planet, or Animals
For Immediate Release:
October 14, 2019
Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382
Norfolk, Va. – Following Sesame Street‘s introduction of a character whose mother is battling an opioid addiction, PETA sent Sesame Workshop a letter this morning urging it to introduce another timely Muppet—a vegan one.
The number of vegans increased by 600% in just five years—so as PETA points out, a vegan Muppet on Sesame Street would help the many kids who don’t eat meat for religious, health, environmental, or ethical reasons see themselves reflected in popular culture. And with today’s young people facing an uncertain environmental future, a vegan Muppet could help introduce the concept of climate change—and how animal agriculture is a major culprit of it.
“Chances are good that most of Sesame Street‘s young audience have a vegan friend or family member, if they’re not vegan themselves,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA would love to see a Muppet who can offer Cookie Monster a dairy-free treat and a few words explaining how they’re saving the planet, staying healthy, and helping animals by choosing vegan meals.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to Jeffrey D. Dunn, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, follows.
October 14, 2019
Jeffrey D. Dunn
President and CEO
Dear Mr. Dunn,
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, in response to reports that Sesame Street has introduced a new character named Karli whose mother is battling addiction. We applaud you for tackling difficult topics by creating characters to whom children can relate and who discuss important issues facing modern society, as you have in the past with characters such as Kami and Julia. Please, will you consider introducing a vegan character so that kids who don’t eat meat for ethical, environmental, health, or religious reasons can also see themselves reflected in popular culture and so that those who still do will learn why others choose not to? Allow me to elaborate.
On today’s factory farms, there are no sunny days for animals. The throats of chickens and turkeys are cut while they’re still conscious, piglets often aren’t given painkillers before their tails and testicles are cut off, fish are suffocated or cut open while they’re still alive on the decks of fishing boats, and calves are taken away from their mothers within hours of birth.
Our young people are facing a future in which they’ll be living with the devastating effects of climate change, and as the mother of a toddler, this issue is particularly important to me. Sesame Street can discuss the impact of climate change by creating storylines in which a vegan Muppet is working to mitigate animal agriculture’s deleterious impact on the environment, which has been extensively documented. A recent analysis by a team of international scientists found that massive reductions in meat consumption are essential to avoid dangerous climate change, including cutting beef consumption by 90% and dairy milk consumption by 60% in Western countries. Globally, the average person will need to eat 75% less beef, 90% less pork, and half the number of eggs. In fact, meat production has such a devastating effect that the Union of Concerned Scientists lists meat-eating as the second-biggest environmental hazard facing the Earth.
Additionally, eating animal products is bad for human health and has been linked to heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Considering that nearly 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant and that milk is the most common allergen affecting young children, a character who doesn’t consume dairy is more than relatable. Even Cookie Monster knows that he must eat his fruits and veggies, and since he included a recipe for vegan cookies in his cookbook, he might even find that he prefers plant-based, cruelty-free cookies!
A vegan Muppet could provide an opportunity for you to teach children about all these important issues and would show them a world that’s tuned into compassion. We look forward to hearing from you.
Very truly yours,
Senior Director, Youth Programs