I find it hard to imagine, however, the recent controversial PETA billboard in Florida seems to have spurred one chef to take the vegetarian plunge. The billboard shows an obese woman in a bikini (from rear view no less!) with the saying “Save the Whales, Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian.”
Your Daily Vegan choose not to cover what is now known as the “billboard scandal” because we didn’t want to give PETA any more attention than the billboard was creating. If you so choose, you can read about it here, or here, or here, or even here. You get my point. But maybe the most intriguing thing you should read about the billboard is right here. It’s hearing what it’s all about from “the horse’s mouth”, so to speak.
Anyway back to this chef fellow, Robert St. John. According to the article, St. John is a “chef, author, restaurateur and world-class eater.” Okaaay. (psst! I’m a world-class eater too – why just yesterday I had Eye-Tahl-Yun (Italian) in the form of pizza – yum!) Apparently the billboard struck a nerve for our muncher of all things worldly. He had this to say:
“The animal activist group PETA, posted a billboard in Florida with a photo of an obese woman in a bikini with the tag line, “Save the Whales, Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian.” A lot of overweight people were offended. I’m a fat person, and I thought it was funny. If I had my choice, I’d rather see PETA’s scantily clad model campaign, but I don’t mind a good chuckle at the expense of a fellow fat person. I wasn’t offended, though I was intrigued by the premise. Could I lose the blubber by going veggie? It sounded like a challenge to me, so I’m going to take the challenge.”
I mean, pretty sweet, all things considered. Anytime you can get someone to try going vegetarian is good, right? Well, sorta. St. John is going vegetarian, not vegan. So he will still be consuming mass quantities of dairy products. Like he says, he has a “got a free pass on the cheese train. Hello pizza. Hello French fries! I might actually be the first vegetarian who gained weight by giving up meats.” Notice that the man is excited about the possibility of gaining weight. Sigh.
St. John has “…actually begun to look forward to the challenge I like the hip, cool way that I say, “I’m going to be a vegetarian.” Yes, St. John, all the “cool” kids are doing it so you should too. It’s depressing that St. John is missing the point of it all. But is it his fault?
Well, no. PETA’s ad was aimed at people who need to lose weight so St. John rightly assumed that going vegetarian would help him accomplish just that. What the billboard did was promote the idea that vegetarians are thinner than our meat counterparts, and statistically they’re right. But it’s not just the vegetarian diet alone that helps the obese lose weight. It’s more accurate to say a “low-fat vegetarian diet” than just a “vegetarian diet”, because as most of my readers know, even Oreo’s are vegetarian/vegan. It doesn’t make them any more healthy for you. And consuming mass quantities of dairy products in a vegetarian diet isn’t going to help you lose weight either.
What is even more depressing to this vegan is that the whole billboard (and any resulting vegetarianism) misses the point entirely. And PETA should know better. No, they do know better but need their precious “publicity”.
See, here’s the thing. If you encourage people to go vegetarian then you are still encouraging them to consume animals. Sure, it may not come in the form of steaks but for every glass of milk that person drinks (because “hey, milk isn’t meat ya’ll”) there is a cow out there that has had her baby stolen from her so that she can begin the process of being raped “impregnated” again. Because, like humans, cows cannot produce milk unless they have recently given birth. So, not only are you supporting the factory dairy farm, you are also supporting the veal industry. How? Well where do you think those baby calves go? That’s right, in veal crates that measure 2 feet wide, where the baby can’t move, sit, or lay down for fear that the muscles will toughen up. We wouldn’t want our veal tough would we? All of that for a glass of milk.
The problem I have is that PETA (and subsequently St. John) isn’t advertising vegetarianism for the animals sake. Nope. Once again, it’s solely for the sake of humans. Go vegetarian, loose weight. No mention of the animals. Wouldn’t you think that an animal rights organization (and I use that term loosely) would mention the animals? In fact, wouldn’t you think an animal rights organization would promote veganism rather than vegetarianism?
My point is this. While it’s swell that someone is willing to try vegetarianism, it’d be even more swell if they took a look at the animals used for “food”. The real point of going “veg” shouldn’t be for the human’s benefit at all. It should be for the billion animals that are tortured and killed every day. Otherwise, I feel you miss the point entirely.
So should we be happy that someone was influenced to go vegetarian? I guess so. I’d be much more impressed if they did it for less selfish reasons. But I guess that’s just wishful thinking on my part.