Tell SPAM to Scram and Jam for Yams Instead: Will Waikiki Festival Go Vegan?

For Immediate Release:
April 16, 2024

Sara Groves 202-483-7382


With the Waikiki SPAM JAM fast approaching, PETA sent a letter to SPAM JAM Foundation President Barbara Campbell today with a tubular suggestion: Can the SPAM and throw a YAM JAM! PETA points out that while millions of people refuse to touch the carcinogenic cans of processed pig parts for health, environmental, religious, or ethical reasons, the versatile root vegetable has enjoyed enduring popularity. The group is even offering to sweeten the deal by cooking up a new festival mascot, Yammy the Yummy Ube, and pledging to match the number of donations of shelf-stable goods visitors contribute to the Hawai’i Foodbank if organizers agree to do the yam thingand reimagine the event as an inclusive vegan jamboree that everyone can enjoy.

Yammy mascot costume illustration
Yammy the Yummy Ube. Credit: PETA

“Pigs are intelligent individuals who, like us, experience love, pain, joy, and fear and don’t want to be ground up for a sandwich,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on organizers to leave these sensitive beings in peace and to yam it up for tubers instead.”

In the meat industry, workers chop off piglets’ tails, clip their teeth with pliers, and castrate the males—all without pain relief. Then, the animals are forced to spend their short lives in crowded, filthy warehouses under the constant stress of intensive confinement. When the time comes for slaughter, they’re crammed onto trucks and transported hundreds of miles through all weather extremes without food, water, or rest, causing many to die from heat exhaustion. At slaughterhouses, workers shoot pigs in the head with a captive-bolt gun, hang them up by one leg, and cut their throat, often while they’re still conscious.

Each person who goes vegan spares nearly 200 animals every year and reduces their own risk of suffering from cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and obesity. PETA’s free vegan starter kit is filled with tips to help anyone looking to make the switch.

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. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Campbell follows.

April 16, 2024

Barbara Campbell


SPAM JAM Foundation

Dear Ms. Campbell:

Aloha! I yam reaching out on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including thousands in Hawai’i—with a tuberiffic suggestion: With millions of people adopting a plant-based lifestyle—which is better for animals, the environment, and our own health—would you please consider reimagining the Waikiki SPAM JAM as a YAM JAM? PETA would gladly supply a new mascot, like Yammy the Yummy Ube, and would even pledge to match the number of donations of shelf-stable goods visitors contribute to the Hawai’i Foodbank if you turn this event into a vegan one so that everyone can enjoy it. 

Yammy mascot costume illustration

SPAM is not yummy, and today lots of people avoid it and all other animal-derived products for ethical, environmental, religious, or health reasons. Pigs are sensitive, empathetic animals who feel pain and form strong bonds, yet each year, millions of them are raised on filthy factory farms, subjected to extreme crowding, routine mutilations—such as cutting off their testicles and parts of their ears without pain relief—and a violent, terrifying death. Eating pigs is damaging to humans, too. The World Health Organization reports that processed meats cause cancer and that meat-eating is linked to diabetes, strokes, and high blood pressure. Canned meats like SPAM are high in saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease, obesity, and breast, colon, and rectal cancer. Yams, in starch contrast, are considered a superfood and are a wonderful source of fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, and antioxidants.

Our suggestion isn’t half-baked: A vegan YAM JAM would keep up with the times—the global potato and yam derivatives market is set to reach nearly $782 billion by 2030—and celebrate Hawai’i’s reputation as the most vegan-friendly U.S. state. A YAM JAM could serve various vegan dishes that showcase this vegetable’s versatility—from chocolate-dipped or candied yams to savory crisps, yamburgers, and peanut butter and yam jam sandwiches. You might even consider having a yam carving contest and games like “hot yam” (to be played like hot potato), setting up a yam throwing competition, and awarding a prize to the fastest yam peeler.

We hope you’ll agree that transforming your event into a more inclusive and totally humane YAM JAM would be a great way to grow with the times while rooting for sustainable and ethical plant-based agriculture. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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