On August 7th, PETA Files posted that they were doing a billboard that said, “Save The Whales. Lose the blubber: Go vegetarian.” The billboard had a cartoon drawing of the back of a large woman wearing a bikini on a beach. No whales were shown in the image.
It’s true that the average vegan or vegetarian weighs less than the average non-veg person. It’s also true that vegans and vegetarians are less likely to be obese or morbidly obese than non-veg people. But that’s just an average. Vegans come in all shapes and sizes, including overweight, obese, and morbidly obese.
Here’s the real issue: eating large amounts of animal products is bad for your health. It’s likely a primary factor in the development of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It’s not the excess fat on your body that is most likely to kill you, it’s what that fat often represents: an unhealthy diet and/or a lack of exercise.
But make no mistake, there are plenty of skinny people who live sedentary lives and/or eat unhealthy food. I used to date one of those people – a guy who ate nothing but frozen peperoni pizzas and candy, but had a super-fast metabolism and stayed stick-skinny. That, or he had a tapeworm. And I know countless people who eat unhealthy food and just work it all off at the gym. There are even plenty of skinny people whose thinness represents extremely poor health, for example: crack addicts, anorexics, and AIDS patients. The point is: You can’t tell how healthy someone is just by looking at them.
On August 7th, I wrote this when I read the post at PETA Files:
I think this billboard is mean-spirited.
Let’s just do some math here, OK? If someone is 250 pounds and they slim down to 200 by going vegan, they’re probably still technically over-weight and they’ll still receive prejudice, verbal attacks, and fat-shaming from fat-phobic, mean-spirited people. That billboard is part of that problem.
Please focus on health, not on size.
I chose those numbers because they’re a practical way too demonstrate PETA’s claim that “vegetarians are 20 to 30 percent leaner than meat-eaters”. For the record, Atkins weighed 258 pounds when he died. I wasn’t alone in my criticism. Many others chimed in to comment there and across the blogosphere.
There’s a BIG difference between:
- people who respect and protect whales yet call large people “whales” (PETA)
- people who don’t care the least about whales (or any other animal) and who call large people “whales” (the general public)
But there’s still the problem that calling large people “whales” is derogatory, insulting, and just plain MEAN.
Could it be that the critics don’t pay attention to anything PETA does until it hits the big time? Could it be that the anti-PETA critics just don’t really know what PETA does? Or do they really, truly ignore all the good stuff PETA does and only chime in when it’s something bad?
Seriously, what gives?
UPDATE: Looks like anti-PETA bloggers and protesters were played. PETA updated the billboard after complaints aired: