For many years, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has used advertising to show us that all vegan women are slim and traditionally sexy. That’s the whole point of the “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign. PETA also puts out an annual list of the year’s “sexiest vegan celebrities.” This year, that list includes Kristen Bell. People’s Sexiest Man of 2013, Adam Levine, considers himself 85 percent vegan. This time however, PETA may have taken the sexy and slim bit a little too far.
When news broke that Plan B, a morning-after pill, may not be effective for women weighing more than 176 pounds, PETA jumped at the chance to convert more people to veganism. In a press release they suggested “Plan V as a Plan B lifeline for overweight women.”
PETA is no stranger to controversy. Most recently, vegan and animal rights activist Joan Jett caused a dispute with the plans for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The rocker was scheduled to make an appearance on the South Dakota float, but citizens objected since the cattle industry is so important to the state. Jett switched to a different float and performed during the parade.
That’s the PETA we like hearing about. An organization that is committed to its stance, and has celebrity advocates that are truly dedicated to the cause. We don’t love the PETA that uses fat-shaming to convince women to take up a vegan diet.
While there is nothing wrong with promoting a meatless diet as a beneficial one, PETA is taking it too far. Using overtly sexy images of thin women to promote veganism is overdone and misleading. What makes it even worse is tying veganism to the ability to use Plan B.
President of PETA Ingrid E. Newkirk stated that she believes the new campaign “will encourage women to adopt a healthy vegan diet in order to lose weight and so take control of their reproductive rights.”
Encouraging a healthy vegan diet, like Alicia Silverstone has done with the Kind Diet, isn’t the problem. It’s the assumption that by converting to a vegan diet, you will be thinner and thereby better able to use a morning-after pill. Not only is the thought insulting, but it also is supported by the shakiest of science.
The problem with the 176 pound weight limit for Plan B is that it’s only based on weight. It has nothing to do with Body Mass Index (BMI), which is the determining factor in what classifies a person as obese or overweight.
Women don’t need someone or something else pressuring them to lose weight, especially an organization that has no business tying a diet choice to reproductive decisions. Yes, maintaining a healthy weight is important to overall health, but we don’t need PETA telling us how we should do it.