PETA STAND FOR PEOPLE EATING TASTY ANIMALS?
by Whit Gibbons
April 11, 2004
Eating Tasty Animals is in no way connected with, or endorsed by, People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals." So says the Web site that
you used to reach when you went to www.peta.com.
Apparently the tasty animal site, with its tongue-in-cheek humor about
the extreme views held by some members of PETA, lost a domain name rights
battle for the Web address. I think most of us would be better served
if we still reached the original site.
a column about ecology and the environment, and my concern about PETA
is that some people mistake animal rights zealots for environmentalists.
They are not necessarily the same, although some environmentalists may
also be a bit shrill. It is important not to confuse the cause of animal
rights advocates with that of people who work to protect the world's natural
environments--and the animals that inhabit them. The two can be compatible
but often are not.
animals from abusive treatment is a worthwhile cause that most people
would not oppose. However, when PETA focuses on antihunting and the welfare
of individual wild animals, the organization is not addressing more universal
environmental problems such as loss of biodiversity, human overpopulation,
and habitat loss. These are true environmental issues, whereas antihunting
efforts are directed toward protecting individual animals from dying at
a younger age than they might otherwise. In fact, hunters are among the
most environmentally friendly groups because of the importance of healthy
habitats to anyone who hunts or fishes. PETA is summarily opposed to hunting,
suggesting that they are more interested in the individual animal than
the wild animal populations or the environment as a whole.
of individual animals (such as a single deer) versus the rights of an
entire animal species (all white-tail deer) do not necessarily go hand
in hand and can actually be in conflict. Actions prompted by compassion
toward the plight of individual animals are not always in the best interest
of the general welfare of animal populations and species. Game animals
are monitored by wildlife departments to assure that their removal is
sustainable, that the populations will be able to replace their numbers.
Although none of us want to see individual animals suffer, animal rights
activists involved in antihunting programs should consider if preventing
the suffering of an individual animal might lead to greater suffering
in an entire animal population through starvation or disease.
people who care about animals sometimes contact their state wildlife department
to deal with individual animals that have a problem. With spring here,
baby birds will fall from nests, and turtles will end up injured on highways.
Such scenes make us feel bad, and they should. But calling the wildlife
department to deal with such problems is not a solution. The usual response
from the wildlife department is to ask the caller just to leave the animal
and let it die. Wildlife departments cannot devote limited resources to
dealing with a single individual of a species, one that is destined to
die anyway. The death of any animal is a natural, inexorable event. The
protection of wildlife habitat, with a focus on the animal community inhabiting
it, is a far more important responsibility for our wildlife departments.
complaint registered against PETA and other animal rights groups is that
they attempt to restrict medical research that benefits humans. Protecting
individual animals against human abuse can be a worthy endeavor, but many
people feel PETA should distinguish between animal rights and human rights,
with it being understood that the latter is more important, at least to
www.peta.org gets you to a different
Web site than it used to, the visit is still captivating. But now the
stories are real and they are not funny. For example, concern for the
welfare and lives of 31 beagles at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson
Cancer Center is presented as more important than the medical contribution
they might make for the benefit of humans. And PETA mocks KFC with the
slogan "Kentucky Fried Cruelty: We do chickens wrong." Nonetheless
the idea of people eating tasty animals is still preferred by some of
you have an environmental question or comment, email