Like a fly that incessantly buzzes around your head, or an itch you can’t reach to scratch, press releases from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) regularly appear in my mailbox. None of them are really newsworthy, but you can bet local and state media outlets will pick them up.
“8-Year-Old Nabs PETA Award for Encouraging Classmates to Go Vegan”
“See theWinners of the CutestVegan Kid Contest”
“10 Questions Every Vegan Kid Gets Asked”
“Free ‘Kids’ Guide to Helping Animals’”
I hadn’t visited the PETA or PETA Kids websites until researching for this article. At the PETA website, there are lots of public service announcements from which you can choose, and a robust compilation of news releases.
At PETA Kids, you can play any of 13 interactive games, like Butcher Goes Vegan, or Super Chick Sisters. There are videos, quizzes, photos, activities, comics and food. Oh my.
You can read about that 8-year-old, too: Lula, a lifelong vegan, chose to create a slideshow about today’s industrial- ized meat, egg and dairy industries. She was selected to present her project in an assembly for about 300 other students— and she also wrote a persuasive essay on the topic and printed posters that showed a pig next to the words ‘I’m Not Bacon. I’m a Living Being, Just Like You.’”
It’s doubtful Lula had an inherent, burning desire to go vegan when she first started eating solid food as an infant. She was likely “guided,” as so many others, to follow that path by an adult.
And when was the last time you saw an award for a youngster encouraging classmates to be a healthy meat-eater? Or the cutest omnivore child? PETA goes straight to the youngest consumers with fun activities and well-crafted messages. While I strongly disagree with the organization’s mission, one can’t help but admire its excellent marketing tactics.
There’s no reason animal agriculture can’t take a lesson from its adversaries and create some great marketing of its own. There are scattered examples of similar efforts, but the collective industry needs a much more collaborative, targeted approach to be effective. Did you know the healthykids.com domain is available? I can’t think of a better name for kids who enjoy a well-balanced diet that includes the vitamins and minerals that are readily available in meat.
If you’re like me, you sigh with frustration when you read about PETA’s activities, but it’s time to step up as an industry and as individuals.
I challenge you to seriously consider the question: What are you going to do about it?