Past Event

Where’s the Beef? Animal Rights and Vegetarian Living

Many notable figures throughout history have been vegetarians. From Plato and Benjamin Franklin to Mahatma Gandhi and Charlotte Bronte, veggie-love has a historical track record. Even civil rights icons Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King adhered to strict vegetarian diets and were also vegetarian activists. 

Many continue to embrace vegetarianism, rejecting what they deem the horrific treatment of soon-to-be slaughtered animals. In the popular pamphlet 101 Reasons Why I’m Vegetarian, Pamela Rice writes: "Nearly all of the some 10 billion animals slaughtered for food in the U.S. every year are the end result of a behemoth-sized swift-moving assembly line system, incorporating dangerous, unprecedented, and unsustainable methods of production."

As vegetarianism and veganism (a diet that contains no meat or diary) has grown in popularity many are beginning to marvel at the benefits a veggie diet has not only for animal rights, but the positive effects it has on the body.

This year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched a campaign to find America’s sexiest vegetarian, and Chicagoan Sheena Spikes made the list. Sheena became a devout vegan after reading the book, Skinny B****, which claims a vegan diet is the pathway to weight loss.

While PETA is busily celebrating sexy vegetarians, they are also making headlines. When the commercial they created to air during the Super Bowl was deemed too "provocative and sexy" for television, many began to wonder whether PETA ads had gone too far. In her blog Feministe, blogger Jill writes: "A lot of PETA ads use women’s bodies as stand-ins for animals, to show how those animals are abused. The abused women are still hot, naked, white, and sexy, again tying sex with violence, and sexualizing the abused female body."

Some cheer PETA’s track record of bringing animal rights issues to the masses, but others believe their tactics verge on racist. The ad space PETA bought in 2008 on the Mexican-American Border states: "If the Border Patrol doesn’t get you, the chicken and burgers will — go vegan." And had this to say: "Without even getting into what’s f***** up about the message they are trying to send about meat consumption and Mexican vs. American culture, let’s begin with the images on the ad, which are borderline racist and definitely offensive to me. Then how about supporting the screwed up US immigration policy by buying ad space on these fences?"

Should there be stricter laws for slaughterhouses? Do you think some animal rights activist groups go too far? Is a vegetarian diet healthier than a diet that allows for meat consumption? How affordable is eating vegan? Are there any cost benefits to a vegetarian diet? Are there fresh fruit and veggie markets in your neighborhood?  How does or doesn’t our society and environment benefit from the fair treatment of animals? What are the connections between animal rights, feminism, and racial justice? Suggested Resources

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