Opinion: Why PETA Gives Vegans A Bad Name

June 24, 2014

Something that often comes up when I tell people that I am vegan is the subject of PETA’s advertising. Unfortunately vegans are often (unfairly) grouped into one category: “PETA crazies.” Human-hating, controversy-craving crazies. But as you Peaceful Dumpling readers are surely well aware, we’re definitely not all like that! I am here to tell you that vegans do not all endorse PETA’s advertising strategies–and here’s why.

carrots1. Sex doesn’t sell. PETA is famous for its sexy advertising campaigns. Among these are the I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur campaign, having nude women with their bodies painted displayed in cages to protest circuses, and most horrifyingly, My Boyfriend Went Vegan… which depicts what verges on sexual abuse (trigger warning!). I am an avowed feminist and don’t believe that sexuality is a shameful thing, but the dehumanizing nature of these campaigns does nothing to bring people to their cause. According to at least one study, these ads actually turn people off: people are actually less likely to donate to charitable organizations that use sexually suggestive ads. go_vegan_cows

2. Many of us already seen enough animal cruelty and don’t want to be exposed to more images of it. Having donated to animal charities in the past, I’m on several mailing lists including one from PETA. Recently they mailed me postcards featuring animals undergoing horrifying experiments. This really offended me because I don’t want to see animals hurt like that. They use these shock tactics to get money and attention, but these tactics are off base and they alienate vegans and omnivores alike and actually make people think poorly of vegans. I understand that sometimes people need a rude awakening to see the light, but I still believe that more people would go vegan if they are educated about the issues in an encouraging and less caustic manner.

3. While euthanasia is sometimes the most humane thing for an animal, PETA uses euthanasia excessively in its shelter. I have worked in an animal shelter. I know that sometimes there is nothing we can do for a suffering animal besides humane euthanasia. However, PETA has received tons of negative publicity about the high number of animals at their facility that are euthanized. While many places are adopting no-kill philosophies (which isn’t always the best policy in my opinion), PETA euthanizes far more animals in its facility than it adopts out. You can read more about their side of the issue here.

4. PETA has diminished human suffering by comparing factory farming to the Holocaust. After receiving public blame for their Holocaust On Your Plate campaign, PETA did issue an apology of sorts. The ad displays were banned in Germany and garnered attention worldwide….which, as you might have already picked up, is really what they were going for. While factory farming is one of the most despicable things on Earth, comparing factory farming to the Holocaust is insensitive to people who are still living with that trauma.48:365 World Autism Awareness Day

5. PETA blatantly lied in one of their recent, insensitive campaigns. In their recent anti-dairy campaign, PETA claims that dairy is linked to autism in children, which is more than a little offensive as well as scientifically unfounded. I am a proponent of vegans being educated enough about the scientific reasons for going vegan so that they can discuss them when necessary. This includes not being misinformed and spreading bad information.


Are you looking for some responsible animal rights organizations to donate to? I recommend Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, or the ASPCA. Share your thoughts below!

Related: 5 Animal Friendly Charities for Your Next Special Occasion

Opinion: Why Anthropomorphism Can Be a Good Thing

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Southern Style Vegan BBQ Tofu


Photo: cgc on flickr; the_art_of_stencil on flickr; bokamokacoka on flickr; farmsantuary1 on flickr; mattbeckwith on flickr.

Samantha is a vegan professional in the tech industry living in Austin, Texas with her boyfriend. Her background is in library & information science and classical studies. She loves cooking, biking, movies, reading, the science fiction & horror genres, crafting, thrifting, and the occasional video game. Check her out on Pinterest and Google+. You can also reach her at lestersn [at] gmail [dot] com.


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