Offensive, or True?

Via on Aug 24, 2009

Save the Whales (by Whales we mean fat people), says PETA. Go Vegetarian billboard is offensive, or true?

Or both?

I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the word police…and I generally come away from such shout-downs having learned a lot about communication, misunderstanding, my own blindness and others’ enthusiasm for political correctness.

That said, not sure I think the below billboard is the most skillful evocation of a powerful, true sentiment:

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13 Responses to “Offensive, or True?”

  1. April says:

    Vegetarian does not equal skinny or fit. This is a very misleading ad. I have several vegetarian friends that tip the scales a bit. No hating.

  2. sarah says:

    they could have at least pushed vegan, but it's not surprising considering most of the members of peta aren't even vegetarian

  3. dr_natalie says:

    Being veggie also does not always mean healthy either. If it's not done properly, it can be very unhealthy for your body. I've known many a veggie to quit after many years, or start eating meat every now and again because they felt like their body REALLY needed it. We were designed to eat meat. The current meat making practices are a very good reason to stop and protest – but there is meat out there where the animals are treated as they should be that you can purchase and eat. Biodynamic meat, for example, is wonderful and available. We should not be made ashamed of eating meat-but we should be more mindful of where that meat comes from. And most of America could use less meat. I only eat it like once or twice a week-any more and i feel weighed down, any less (with vigourous activity) and I feel like I need it to rebuild.
    All in all, the ad is so wrong. For many reasons. Just like PETA to take it a little too far.

  4. Noelle says:

    Wow- that is offensive to people, and whales. It's hardly the case that vegetarian = thin or fit. As stated here by others-I know several vegans and vegetarians who carry at least a few extra pounds. Sugar is a vegan food, right? As if weight and eating issues, or the obesity epidemic were so simple to solve. They may recruit a few people though- fat folk are usually willing to try just about anything to lose weight – except for the only truly proven equation of less food more exercise. I speak from experience :)

  5. swati jr* says:

    oh, PETA.

  6. clasina says:

    Perhaps I should introduce PETA to my overweight vegan and vegetarian friends! I have met plenty of veggie-fatties who don't eat meat but do only eat carbs!

    This fails to support what PETA's message should be and shows them to be the extremist morons the tend to usually act like!

  7. "Offensive" and "true" are not mutually exclusive.

    That said, the meat, fur, and pharmeceutical industries have no better friend than PETA, an organization that consistently, and very effectively, gets out the message that people who care about animals are assholes. Until animal lovers like yourself stop defending these misanthropic attention-grabbers, vegetarianism, veganism, and animal rights will continue to be fringe movements that are viewed with contempt by most Americans.

  8. via http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal

    Carolyn L
    If PETA truly understood the concept of compassion and respect for life, 95% of their ads would cease to exist. They're proud to be shock and awe, no matter the consequences nor the hypocrisy.

    Trisha D
    insensitive… but true. i personally do not find truth in the "big is beautiful" and similar campaigns that are common in the usa… if our food supply, knowledge of chemicals, and eating habits were better, there would not be such an industry for overweight and obese "beauty." Seems to me that being overweight is validated to some degree through… See More media saying, it's ok to be big, embrace who you are… business has found a market (in obesity) to make money from and with half our population being overweight that's good news for them. Are people truly content deep down being overweight, or is it that they have learned that it is ok because the tv tells them it is ok??

    Maureen M
    I am a vegetarian and though being one may be a part of what contributes to being 'in shape', it is not the entire picture. It takes more than not eating meat – it takes exercise, yoga, treating yourself well so you don't 'eat' your troubles away with junk food…. etc…. I'm with Carolyn, it's not necessary to be disrespectful to get the point across, but here we are 'discussing' the ad, so the company is getting the attention they want.

    Nathaniel W
    you obviously haven't ever had an issue with weight, or loved someone with such an issue…and our society vilifies people with weight issues constantly, believing them to be sluggards and idiots. The "acceptance campaigns" are about helping people accept themselves where they are, helping them to understand that no matter what is on the outside, … See Morethey are worth love and compassion. Beauty is a subjective truth, and if you can't see the beauty in all of humanity, maybe it's time to address the insecurities in oneself. Skinny and fat people both die, but not everyone lives. Life is way to short to ostracize anyone, especially about something as truly superficial as weight.

    Tricia P
    Just low vibration, sugar is vegan. Is it okay to eat lots of it?

    Monica L
    Fat is as fat does. It's simply a state of mind, though – but it's a very difficult thing to change that state of mind – whether one can cross that miraculous line and actually reject the bad stuff they ingest – and live the solutions. I know that obesity usually equals misery in one's life, whether it's a conscious thing or not. Everybody WANTS… See More to be healthy – why wouldn't they? BUT. Try being on the wrong side of 300 pounds for most of your life – it seems like an unsurmountable problem. Ridicule does nothing good for anybody. I love Peta – I love the shock and awe – but I also understand that obesity is a conditioned mindset that needs something other than derision. I recently went from vegetarian to vegan. The pounds are coming off, and you can't deny that it's a good thing to go vegan – but there's a waking up process that one has to go through that takes a lot more than a mean-spirited billboard to achieve.

  9. Thanks, Jay.

    I've written re my concerns/critiques re PETA before, several times, going back to our days as a magazine. The first thing I put in our mag, back in the day, was a genuinely perturbed little notice that said something about how PETA was defending animals while objectifying women. I continue to be concerned by some of their campaigns, though many of their campaigns (that, painfully, ironically, get far less attention) do not sexualize women. Still, overall, I respect PETA for the progress they've made (see link, below) in fighting what is an annual animal holocaust. We're not just killing, we're imprisoning, torturing, and hurting our own moral and physical well-being in the process.

    I don't think I defend them, consistently—I say what I think about them, and what I think about them depends on the campaign. Some of it is fun, accurate, brilliant, necessary. Some of it is tacky, objectifying, shocking. It's an issue of ends vs. means: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2009/10/do-petas-e

    I think the above ad is both offensive and true, personally. While vegetarians can be out of shape, of course—eating less or no meat is an easy shortcut to health, as long as you know how to get your protein and nutrition from a veggie diet. I agree on the "not mutally exclusive" bit.

    • I don't agree that it's ends vs. means, because PETA's greatest "end" has been to damage its own causes. Maybe they've won some small battles, but on a larger scale, they've succeeded in alienating incredible numbers of people who might otherwise be won over. If there's ever going to be any real progress on these issues, it will involve changing the viewpoints and lifestyles of average Americans (like I said, a confusing concept for people who live in Boulder), and, at this point, the average American thinks vegetarians and vegans are self-righteous jerks who don't care about people. And PETA deserves a lot of credit for that.

      If you want to keep factory farming alive, keep using words like "holocaust"–that kind of language, regardless of whether it's accurate–is the very definition of "preaching to the choir." It fires up the tiny minority who already agree with you while making the large majority tune right out. If animal rights people really want to make a difference, they need to learn to talk to the average American, who is not going to respond positively to being compared to a Nazi.

  10. Allison says:

    I know plenty of fat vegetarians. It's offensive, and obesity is not always exclusively related to diet. This billboard is offensive to me.

  11. [...] in the eyes of certain relatives. Combine my Buddhist beliefs with the fact that I have been vegetarian for 21 years, and many relatives of mine think I am some kind of a [...]

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