A new campaign by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has the anti-whaling lobby up in arms and animal rights advocates confused. The group is advocating that people save pigs, chickens and cows by substituting whale meat in their diets.
PETA, an organization that has had its share of controversy over the years, is again stirring the pot with its “Eat the Whales” campaign. The group was in London in mid-July distributing “Eat the Whales” leaflets and unfurled a banner at the International Whaling Committee's annual meeting.
It even went so far as to create a Web site, www.eatthewhales.com, which points out the advantages of whale meat versus chicken, pork and beef. In addition, PETA is erecting billboards in the United States and the United Kingdom promoting the Eat the Whales campaign.
On the campaign Web site, PETA offers: “That's right: Eat the Whales. If you don't have the self-discipline to stop eating meat but want to cause as little suffering to animals as possible, may we suggest you leave the other animals alone and … eat the whales?”
Of course, the organization says it is all tongue-in-cheek. The campaign is meant to be ironic and to promote a vegan lifestyle and the organization's Vegetarian Starter Kit. The kit promotes vegetarian recipes, tips on switching from a meat diet, books and other information sources.
PETA is not concerned that people will take the campaign literally and begin consuming more whale meat.
“No, we haven't gone off the deep end, to make a bad pun,” explained Sean Gifford, a spokesman for PETA's International Grassroots Campaigns department. “Since eating meat is bad for your health, and some people can't kick the habit, we suggest eating the bigger animals first.”
As the Eat the Whales Web site points out, Americans consume more than 25 billion land and sea animals each year. If blue whales, which weigh in at an average of 84 tons, were the only meat source for Americans, only 500,000 a year would be needed. A single blue whale is equivalent to more than 1,200 pigs, PETA notes. In the UK, eating whale meat could save more than 1 billion animals, it said.
“We're completely in support of saving whales,” Gifford said. “But if you're eating meat, you're entirely responsible for more death than the Japanese, Norwegian and Makah whaling trade combined.”
He said the Eat the Whales campaign will most likely become a permanent fixture on the PETA Web site.
“Some people who will blubber about harpooning whales don't hesitate to snag buckets of chicken wings,” said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's Vegan Campaign coordinator.
Friedrich is no stranger to controversy himself. He was arrested July 19 for running naked in front of Buckingham Palace to protest the treatment of animals used in food production.
The Eat the Whales Web site also features a link to a section that promotes saving the whales. It suggests that people write to the Japanese and Norwegian governments and ask them to stop abuses of the International Convention on Whaling. It also urges them to write to President Bush and ask him to push for the elimination of all whaling activities.
“A lot of people love whales, but they still eat animals,” Gifford said. “If you find the idea of eating whales abhorrent, take a look at what's on your plate.”