Wednesday, August 26, 2009

PETA Really Gets My Gooch

I'm a vegetarian and an animal lover, but I don't really care for PETA. Here's one of many reasons why:

PETA's new billboard campaign in Florida is raising eyebrows and ire among women and health groups. A drawing on billboards in Jacksonville depicts an obese woman with the phrase, "Save The Whales, Lose The Blubber: Go Vegetarian."

I won't post a picture of the offending billboard, but you can see it here.

PETA recently decided to take down the billboards, but president and founder Ingrid Newkirk wasn't exactly apologetic:

America's obesity epidemic calls for tough love à la Dr. Phil and America's Biggest Loser, not more coddling and mock shock over a billboard pointing out that the majority of fat people need to have some discipline and remember that being fat means being a bad role model to our children, many of whom are now so fat themselves that "teeter-totter" has come to describe their wobbly gait . . . .

Going meat-free can make a huge difference. Studies show that vegetarians are, on average, 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters and that a vegetarian diet reduces our risk of heart disease by 40 percent and adds seven or more years to our lifespan.

I don't doubt that, on the whole, vegetarians are lighter than meat eaters (though "10 to 20 pounds" is meaningless without information on height, body fat percentage, etc.). But as an overweight vegetarian, I know from experience that fatty, high-calorie, meatless foods are easy to come by. But whatever. Newkirk is right that vegetarian diets are generally healthier than meaty diets, but PETA (and Newkirk in particular) goes too far in trying to get this point across.

Let me put it this way: Comparing factory farming to the Holocaust convinces no one to eat less meat; getting supermodels and zealous vegans to pose nude convinces no one to stop wearing fur; and picking on fat people will convince no one to lose weight with a meat-free diet. If anything, this recent campaign encourages overweight persons to lose weight on the Atkins diet just to spite PETA. Insulting and offending people tend not to be effective ways to persuade people to change their behavior.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I lost a significant amount of weight not long after becoming a vegetarian ten years ago. Vegetarianism may have been responsible for this weight loss, but switching to zero-calorie soft drinks, jogging regularly, and poverty likely were also factors. And all of that weight came back.


Anonymous Kevin said...

Goat. You mean goat. You definitely don't mean gooch.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Tinley said...

I'm going to stick with gooch. "Get your gooch" is an old Tinley family expression, regardless of any other definitions that have been attached to "gooch" over the years.

5:35 AM  

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