This Little Piggy Had Roast Beets: PETA Revamps Nursery Rhymes to Foster Empathy

For Immediate Release:
June 6, 2022

Robin Goist 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va. – Classic nursery rhymes such as “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,” “This Little Piggy,” and “Three Blind Mice” have gotten a modern, animal-friendly makeover, thanks to PETA’s rewritten verses. Just as racist and sexist words have been removed from old songs and fairy tales, PETA’s update nixes language encouraging cruelty to animals, fear of them, or speciesism—the archaic idea that other animals are inferior to humans. In the group’s new and improved versions, the black sheep keeps his wool, the little pigs eat roast beets, and the three blind mice thank the farmer’s wife for saving their life.

“Just as we try not to use certain words that we don’t want our kids repeating, we must consider what messages about animals we’re imparting to them through traditional nursery rhymes,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “Small changes to language like PETA’s cultivate empathy and kindness in children and reflect today’s compassionate attitudes by acknowledging that animals are individuals capable of experiencing joy and suffering.”

PETA’s previous efforts to end speciesism in language include encouraging people to adopt animal-friendly idioms such as “feed two birds with one scone” and “bring home the bagels.” Its humane education division, TeachKind, which offers lessons in kindness, points out that animals should be referred to as “he” or “she” instead of “it”—because an animal is someone, not something—and encourages teachers to use classroom “It” jars to raise linguistic awareness.

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way.” For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind