I’m a vegan, and PETA is making us all look bad
WHAT do the phrases "kill two birds with one stone," "bringing home the bacon" and "grab a bull by the horns" have in common?
According to American animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), each of these common expressions "trivialize cruelty to animals" and should be avoided.
"Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it," the organisation tweeted earlier this week.
"Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialize cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are and start 'bringing home the bagels' instead of the bacon."
Fortunately, PETA came prepared with a list of more animal-friendly expressions, including "feed two birds with one scone," "bring home the bagels" and "take a flower by the thorns".
Look, I get it. Language and how we use it can be useful indicators of cultural attitudes. Sometimes, when we choose certain words and expressions over others, we can endorse toxic behaviour without meaning to.
Hence the feminist backlash to telling someone to "man up" or "grow some balls", which both subtly equate masculinity with strength and femininity with meekness.
But I can't help but feel animal rights activists have bigger fish to fry, so to speak.
In Australia, the average person consumes about 100 kilograms of meat - including beef, veal, poultry, pork and sheep - every year. According to the World Economic Forum, that's more than any other country except the United States, who have us narrowly beat.
What's more, Australia is the world's largest live exporter of sheep for slaughter, a practice that's been rightly condemned for its appalling cruelty, even by the meat industry's standards. Though we've come close to phasing out live exports in the past, a ban has never stuck.
Language-policing is unlikely to curb rampant overconsumption of meat or end the plight of livestock languishing in converted container ships and cramped cargo planes. What it is likely to do is perpetuate the harmful stereotype of vegans as oversensitive and make would-be vegans think twice about joining the veganhood.
This isn't the first time PETA has made headlines for their provocative campaigning tactics. In the past, their ads have been criticised for objectifying women and spreading misinformation, including that consuming dairy causes autism.
Earlier this week, a billboard funded by PETA in California claimed, "You can't be a feminist and still eat eggs. Eggs and dairy are the product of the abuse of females." While the ad was intended to appeal to feminists, it was met with scorn.
Increasingly, vegans and animal advocates are distancing themselves from PETA, with many regarding the organisation as doing more harm than good for the cause. And when they pull stunts like this, it's easy to see why.
I stopped eating meat because the exploitation, torture and slaughter of animals for human consumption horrified me. It still does.
What I didn't sign up for was pointless pontificating and linguistic snobbery disguised as activism.
I'd say PETA need to get off their high horse, but I don't think that's allowed.
Seb Starcevic is a freelance writer.