Does PETA Go Too Far?

This has always been one of my favorite scenes from the hit TV show Sex & The City.

Although Samantha’s reaction here is nothing short of priceless, I’m not quite sure that real life targets of animal advocacy protestors would react as coolly as Samantha did. We all know that the world’s largest animal rights organization, PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals), has been known for some wild antics to promote their campaigns such as throwing a tofu pie at Vogue editor Anna Wintour for her promotion of fur in the magazine, streaking presidents and royalty, and distributing Unhappy Meals featuring a knife-wielding Ronald McDonald and bloody rubber chickens to kids outside the Golden Arches.

images-1On a side note, my personal favorite PETA campaign is the Running Of The Nudes, where hundreds of topless women and half-naked men painted red take to the streets of Pamploma, Spain, in protest of the traditional yearly Running With The Bulls. Anyway, it seems to me that PETA will do almost anything they can legally get away with, no matter how outrageous the act is, who they embarrass, or how much negative publicity they might receive from their acts.

Just yesterday, PETA slammed Katy Perry for supposedly exploiting exotic animals in her new music video Roar. Katy responded with a letter from the American Humane Association stating that the guidelines for animal safety in filmed media were followed, and that no animal was harmed in the making of the video.

4B9032107-8c8869651-130906-katy-perry-roar.blocks_desktop_smallPETA has also taken other stars to task for their alleged mistreatment of animals. Remember when they got mad at Honey Boo Boo for naming her pet chicken “Nugget?” What about last year’s incident, when PETA came out in support of the woman who flour-bombed Kim Kardashian at a red carpet event for wearing fur?

Unknown-4In my opinion, PETA is an organization to be both admired and feared: admired for their focus and energy, and feared for the embarrassment and turmoil they are capable of causing. I feel like I’ve been following PETA’s “shock and awe” campaigns forever, and I consistently find myself pondering the same question over and over again…

Does PETA go too far?

According to an April 2, 2012 article in The Daily Beast, Gary Francione, a law professor at Rutgers University is one of the biggest, and most controversial, critics of PETA. In the article, Professor Francione was quoted as saying…

“I’m opposed to all violence so my view is that if I’m ever going to get you to see my way on these things, I’m going to have to educate you. And I don’t educate you by throwing a pie at you.”

While Professor Francione certainly does have a good point, the fact remains that PETA is a highly effective group.

Unknown-5According to Jonathan Safran Foer in his informative book Eating Animals…

“…no organization strikes fear in the factory farm industry and its allies more than PETA. When PETA targeted fast-food companies, the most famous powerful welfare scientist in the country, Temple Grandin (who has designed more than half the cattle slaughter facilities in the nation), said she saw more improvement in welfare in one year than she had seen in her entire thirty-year career previously.”

Mr. Foer also wrote…

“Arguably the biggest PETA hater on the planet, Steve Kopperud (a meat industry consultant who has given anti-PETA seminars for a decade), puts it this way: ‘There’s enough understanding in the industry now of what PETA’s capable of to put the fear of God into many executives.'”

“It didn’t surprise me to learn that companies of all kinds regularly negotiate with PETA and quietly make changes in their animal welfare policies to avoid being publicly targeted by the group.”

After explaining that PETA has won numerous “animal welfare” changes for farmed animals such as fewer animals per cage, better-regulated slaughter, less-cramped transport, and the like, Mr. Foer concludes…

“…this over-the-top approach has won modest improvements that most people would say don’t go far enough. (Does anyone oppose better-regulated slaughter and less-cramped living and transport conditions?) Ultimately, the controversy around PETA may have less to do with the organization than with those of us who stand in judgment of it- that is, with the unpleasant realization that ‘those PETA people’ have stood up for the values we have been too cowardly or forgetful to defend ourselves.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Jonathan Safran Foer’s conclusion regarding PETA’s “over-the-top” approach.

“…’those PETA people’ have stood up for the values we have been too cowardly or forgetful to defend ourselves.”

Unknown-6After considering the issue from all angles, I can’t help but chuckle when I think of Khloe Kardashian’s statement which was made after her sister Kim’s flour-bombing incident…

“I will no longer support PETA. Bullying and harassment is NEVER a solution, and I won’t be a part of any organization that thinks otherwise.”

I love the response of Kathy Guillermo, vice president of PETA, to Khloe’s bullying accusation…

“if PETA are bullies, it’s nothing compared to what the animals endure.”

So true, so true! I can only suggest looking at the big picture before we start believing that the Kim Kardashians, Anna Wintours, or Honey Boo Boos of the world are the victims in this battle. Please consider Ms. Guillermo’s words “it’s nothing compared to what the animals endure” before misplacing your sympathies and compassion. After all, who are the real victims here?

Do you think PETA goes too far? I would love to know.









  1. I am a vegan and I think PETA goes too far especially when they exploit women and girls in their campaigns. Fortunately the animal advocacy movement is bigger than PETA and their antics do not reflect on a lot of the people in the movement. PETA is an embarrassment to animal advocacy and is a distraction from the message. If you want to get through to people, they have to take you seriously. I think animal advocacy can work better if we respect people the way we do animals and present the arguments. There is so much evidence that a plant based diet is better, that we do not need PETA’s shenanigans.

    • Seth, your position is incredibly strong, and I thank you for sharing it. Rutgers law professor Gary Francione agrees with you, and he is a person I admire greatly! The only thing I’m uncertain about is whether or not we needed PETA’s “shenanigans” up until this point. They are an incredibly effective organization. I hate to be “wishy-washy” but I might feel strongly both ways here. IDK! I’m truly interested in other vegans’ opinions, so thanks for the comment.

  2. Yes, they go way too far. Between the naked women, the pie throwing and all the rest, it’s impossible for anyone to take them or their message seriously. It’s really too bad because when they first started and were doing undercover videos, they were very effective and important to the animal rights movement. Now, they’re the negative AR group every non-vegan throws back to try to prove vegans are bad people. That’s not to say they don’t still do good work, because they do, but their antics overshadow that and cause people to not only lose respect for PETA, but for animal rights activists and the movement in general.

  3. VEGGIEQUEEN says:

    BOOO HOOOO, poor little rich people being taunted and embarrased by PETA :(:( after the horrors that animals endure hourly, daily and through their whole, tortured lives!! THANK GOD FOR PETA EVERY DAY!! I’m a PROUD member of PETA, vegan , educator of ignorant, selfish, comfortable and those who care, want a healthier life and start seeing the great picture that causing others pain is no way to live for anyone’s sake. Lets put things in perspective here, without PETA and all the other wonderful “in your face” animal welfare organizations out there, there would be even more than the trillion of animals being skinned alive for fur, tortured in small pens just to provide an unhealthy meal to the masses, who would be healthier and better fed with a plant based diet!!

    • PETA certainly is an effective organization which has saved the lives of trillions of animals. I applaud you for your strong sense of concern for the animals, and your obvious commitment to a plant-based diet. Thank you for posting your opinion. I’ve been interested in hearing others’ opinions.

  4. Mal while says:

    It’s a sad fact that although wanting to be seen a as kind caring organisation peta is grossly overrated and in my opinion the exact opposite of what they profess to do
    In Norfolk a report published just recently how 91%of animals in care homes owned by peta are killed as soon as a period of time is reached and they have not been re homed
    How can a so called caring society do this 1000s of cats and dogs killed because the cost of waiting for a suitable owner is less than the money it costs to feed these animals
    It’s high time peta saw its self as a glorified business just out to make money through awful campaigns

  5. peta doesn’t exploit women. that is ridiculous. It is done to draw attention to the issues. I dn’t agree with violence ever. Throwing paint on someone who wears fur it just not reasonable or rational. It doens’t help our message, and is rather extreme ( tho i hate fur and anyone who wears or promotes it) PETA does draw attention to the issues and is a catalyst for change.

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