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PETA, The Environment, and You: The Ugly Truth.

December 16, 2008

Turns out I’m not quite done with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (a.k.a. People for the Molly-Coddling of Cute and Fuzzy Bunnies).  The entry I wrote earlier got my blood pumping, and I decided to do a follow-up: an uncovering of some of the ugly truths about PETA.

The problem with PETA is that they are very bad arguers.  Rather than try to discuss their ideas with the opposition in the hopes of reaching a conclusion (or perhaps a compromise), they choose to insist that the opponent MUST be wrong, and will not back down until the opponent “comes to their senses.”  If their initial attack doesn’t work, they will pull out a billion other reasons why you should be thinking the way they do in the hopes that one of them appeals.  Their method works as follows: name a problem that you should be concerned about, name how animal consumption contributes to that problem, and then convince you that by switching to a vegan lifestyle you can make it all better.  To the untrained eye, this looks like they care about a wide variety of issues and simply see veganism and animal liberation as the best remedy.  Under scrutiny, however, it turns out to be a desperate bid to gain new converts.

Here are some of their favorite arguments.

Argument #1: Using animal products is bad for the environment (so if you care about the environment, you won’t use animal products).  Raising enough cattle to feed everyone increases the quantity of greenhouse gases, raising any kind of animals generates tons of garbage, etc.

The Ugly Truth: PETA doesn’t care one whit about the environment.  Here’s why: Rather than eating meat and using animal-based oils, they suggest that we level rainforest (and other natural ecosystems) to make room for soy, wheat, and palm oil farms, driving thousands of animals out of their native habitat to do so.  Instead of using leather and fur, they say we should wear synthetics, made from plastic — which takes years to break down, releases harmful chemicals into the environment as it does so, and is non-renewable (once we use it up, it’s gone).

Argument #3: There is tons of scientific evidence to support a vegan lifestyle (if you take science seriously, you’ll convert).

True, PETA does provide a lot of evidence that seems to support veganism as a healthy way of life.  However, that is the only science that they will give any credence to, and they continually tout it as unimpeachable FACT.

The Ugly Truth: Science means basically nothing to PETA, unless it can help them gain new followers.  Their “facts” on their site are frequently either outdated, based on sketchy evidence or exaggerated from their original form.  Additionally, any evidence presented that threatens to contradict their “facts” is quickly written off as inconclusive, insufficiently researched, or just plain propaganda.

For fun, some facts that PETA has ignored:

Soy, their greatest ally in the meat-and-dairy substitute industry, will not cure libido problems as they claim — in fact, it has been used for centuries in Asia to achieve the opposite effect.

Chimpanzees, the closest relative of humans and the figure they often point to as banana-munching proof that humans should be vegan, consume animal flesh as a regular part of their diet.

Several primitive cultures, such as Native Americans, have been eating significant portions of meat for centuries, yet until very recently had no problems with heart disease, cancer, or premature aging (other than the sun’s natural weathering effects on the skin).

Under the conditions portrayed by PETA’s videos and literature as typical of egg-production farms, chickens would not produce eggs at all — stress would end their ovular cycles in short order.

Argument #3: A vegan lifestyle will improve your health.

PETA is constantly touting the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle.  They claim that omitting meat from your diet entirely will reduce your risks of heart disease, cancer, and virtually every other disease known to man.  Animal testing, they say, is unnecessary; the only way to health is to give up animals entirely.

The Ugly Truth: PETA doesn’t care about your health, either.  Firstly, their claim that the Vegan Lifestyle is the ONLY way to good health is a huge contradiction of scientific evidence, which they conveniently ignore.  Secondly, their “healthy lifestyle” isn’t nearly as natural as they claim — omitting animal products merely forces the individual to substitute chemical-based products, which are frequently more harmful than their natural counterparts.  Any medicine that is derived from animals is likewise forbidden, so anyone who relies on such a thing to survive is SOL (unless the wondrous Vegan Lifestyle can cure them).

Which leads me directly into Argument #4: If everyone were vegan, there would be enough food to go around (if you convert, you can help end world hunger!)

It really is a lovely thought: that if we all converted to a veggie lifestyle, the resulting surplus of food would feed the entire population of Earth.  Unfortunately, it is at best a hypothesis — a suggestion of a result that might occur, once again distorted by PETA into Fact.  True, preliminary studies of consumption indicate that it might be so, but it cannot be proven without large-scale testing.

The Ugly Truth behind it?

PETA doesn’t give a rat’s patootie about humanity.  They haven’t even bothered to hide it, either.  They see humanity as the Eternal Enemy of animals; it’s Us vs. Them, and if We don’t go then They’re all going to suffer.  Several members of PETA have expressed the opinion that the best way to ensure the freedom of animals would be to exterminate all humans on Earth, allowing the other lifeforms to reclaim what is “rightfully theirs”.  The concept of humans as a part of the environment – and the realization that we are animals too – goes right over their heads;  their idea of a human-friendly solution is to set up a series of laws that would give humans fewer rights than any other species.  (Well, except the orangutans, who will be extinct thanks to the palm-oil farms.)

The final argument: Using animal products is cruel to animals (if you care about animals, you’ll convert).

This is, actually, the first thing they bring up, and it is sometimes a valid point.  Much of the meat and dairy that we eat is produced in a less-than-humane manner — easily evidenced by the poor quality and low price.  What PETA fails to understand, however, is that if we hold ourselves to the same standards as we do animals (which we would, if we were “equals” as they insist to newcomers), then the simple act of eating an animal would not be considered cruel.  Just as it is not cruel for a tiger to eat a rabbit or a polar bear to eat a seal, it should not be cruel for a human to eat part of a cow; like the tiger and polar bear, we do it to survive.

The bottom line, however, is much, much worse.

The Ugly Truth: PETA does not care about animals.

Mayhaps they did once.  Mayhaps some of them still do, somewhere in there.  But in their enormous wad of Animal Liberation and the Vegan Lifestyle and miscellaneous misanthropy, somehow they managed to twist their original purpose into something much worse.  They no longer care about the welfare of an individual animal; the only thing they care about is that every animal is either running free in the wild or dead (“free” from the “evil clutches of humanity”).  If an animal cannot survive without humans – such as is the case with many pets – then they believe that the only solution is to kill the animal, to free it from its hideous slavery.  That’s the solution they apply to every animal that they have problems with.  Rather than taking the time and effort to find a habitat suitable for the animal, they just kill it off and go back to picketing fur-coat manufacturers.

Yep, PETA you sure are a kind, loving and intelligent bunch of people.

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