PETA has taken down their controversial "Save The Whales" billboard, which drew intense ire from across the country. They have replaced it with a billboard that says, "GONE: Just like all the pounds lost by people who go vegetarian."
Ingrid Newkirk, president and founder of PETA wrote a response to the controversy in an exclusive blog for the Huffington Post.
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.
PETA's billboard was fueled by a healthy respect for all the animals who are raised cruelly and killed in painful ways as well as for our own species's potential to be kind and healthy.
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."
In a press release, PETA stated:
A new PETA billboard campaign that was just launched in Jacksonville reminds people who are struggling to lose weight -- and who want to have enough energy to chase a beach ball -- that going vegetarian can be an effective way to shed those extra pounds that keep them from looking good in a bikini. [....]
Anyone wishing to achieve a hot "beach bod" is reminded that studies show that vegetarians are, on average, about 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters. [...]
"Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "PETA has a free 'Vegetarian Starter Kit' for people who want to lose pounds while eating as much as they like.
Jessica at Feministing blasts the billboard as "fat-shaming" and that "PETA owes the residents of Jacksonville a serious apology."
Holly at Deceiver states, "This is exactly what you would expect [from PETA] -- no empathy for humans whatsoever, just a lot of B.S. about how vegetarianism will make fat people just a little bit less of a blight on humanity."
PETA is known for its attention-grabbing tactics involving scantily clad-women, like this veggie dog eat-in on Capitol Hill that involved playboy playmates wearing only lettuce bikinis.
When asked to comment on the charges that the ad is sexist and mocking of overweight people, Ashley Byrne, a senior campaigner for PETA stated, "Our goal is help overweight Jacksonville residents - the best way to do that is to go vegetarian. We're not trying to insult anyone. [....] Vegetarians look and feel better than meat eaters. This is a life-saving message."
When asked specifically if the billboard shames overweight people, Byrne stated, "If the billboard is shocking, hopefully it will gets people's attention, and help them improve quality of life for themselves and their families.... it's designed to help people."
This latest billboard reminded me of a recent Onion News Network send up of PETA's sexist tactics.