Dairy Sponsorship Has Hockey on Thin Ice—Literally: PETA Urges Maple Leafs to Dump Contributor to Climate Catastrophe

Moira Colley 202-483-7382


On the heels of a disappointing ending to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season, PETA dispatched a letter today to Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Keith Pelley offering a winning strategy for next season: Break away from team sponsor Dairy Farmers of Ontario. PETA points out that cows in the dairy industry belch out massive amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere, causing ice caps to melt—meaning that dumping dairy would be a better move for the future of the planet and hockey.

PETA also notes that putting dairy in the penalty box would be a power play that protects the team’s players from the chronic inflammation, heart disease, cancer, and other ailments linked to drinking cow’s milk, which is meant for baby cows—not for human or superhuman hockey players.

Globe on fire next to text "Dairy Is Milking the Planet Dry"

“By weaning themselves from the dairy industry’s teat, the Maple Leafs would be champions on and offthe ice next season,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA encourages the team to switch to a new sponsor that doesn’t harm animals, the planet, or its players’ health.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—points out thatEvery Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. PETA’s free vegan starter kit is filled with tips to help anyone looking to make the switch. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Pelley follows. 

Keith Pelley

President and CEO

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd.

Dear Mr. Pelley:

Greetings from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including nearly 30,000 in Toronto. Our condolences for this year’s devastating playoff loss. So many Leafs fans have now endured decades of heartbreak, watching a team with so much talent and promise fail to piece together a successful Stanley Cup run, so we’re writing to you with a suggestion for shaking things up and getting a fresh start for next season—ditch your sponsorship from Dairy Farmers of Ontario. Please hear us out.

We hope you can appreciate the irony of an ice-based sports team accepting a sponsorship from the ice cap–melting dairy industry. Dairy farms are a significant contributor to the climate catastrophe. A 2018 study estimates the production of dairy milk to be around three times more intensive in greenhouse gas emissions than the production of plant-based milks. Global warming means more melting icebergs. Oh—and if you’re thinking of making a switch to field hockey, cow’s milk generally requires the use of nine times more land than any of the vegan alternatives. So that would be out.

Drinking dairy milk is like playing hockey on melting ice—it’s not only counterproductive but also rather dangerous. NHL athletes have to be fast, agile, strong, and resilient, so they should avoid performance issues that can come with consuming cow’s milk, which has been linked to chronic inflammation, heart disease, colon and prostate cancer, and the, ahem, embarrassing effects of lactose intolerance.

And cows suffer when they’re treated like milk machines on farms. Mother cows produce milk to nourish their young, but their beloved calves are taken away from them within a day of birth, causing extreme distress for both, so that the milk can be sold for human consumption. It is common for the anguished cries of mother cows calling for their kidnapped calves to be heard for days. Dairy milk is meant for baby cows, not grown hockey players.

Sure, roster shakeups and a new coaching staff may improve the team’s performance next year, but severing ties with the dirty dairy industry would be guaranteed to help protect the planet, improve human health, and spare gentle cows and their calves from being exploited, abused, and killed. Please, send the Maple Leafs’ dairy sponsorship to the penalty box.

Thanks for your consideration. Please let us know your decision.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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