Dear PETA: Shut The Fuck Up

PETA being douchey with the ability to write big checks.

I’ve gone through cycles of carnivorous, veggie, and veganism throughout my life as I’ve struggled to learn what it means to live causing the least harm possible.

Right now I’m on what I believe to be a vegan renaissance coming into my life as my food tastes are undergoing a dramatic shift as I just got a taste bud upgrade and the new software is unprecedentedly sharp. This might have to do with quitting smoking as well. Nevertheless, I’m aware that there is a mental changing of the guards taking place and I’m letting my body lead the process in the new twists my paradigms of food and eating twirl once again.

This would be well and good but PETA has a brick and mortar location in my city of Oakland in a neighborhood that I frequent. Every time my eyes fall on their sign, I have a moment of frustration. PETA dedicates themselves to making as many people feel bad about their food choices, bodies, identities, class, gender, and pretty much anything else they can think of and their huge media reach means that lots of people have felt very bad at their hands. It’s created a view that food ethics are solely about self-righteous white people.

Oakland is a city with a lot of social justice movements inside of it. PETA may have the overwhelming share of global attention, budgeting, and common knowledge but they comprise a sliver of food justice actions taking place within the city and there is no clear reason why they have a branch office in Oakland, especially with a perpetually offensive stream of ads with unquestioned jerkwadded thinking and the quick defense that they’re just trying to raise awareness by being “provocative.”



There are a lot of critiques of PETA and its white supremacy, racism, sexism, homophobiabody shaming, and more. I don’t think I could write anything better than the overall amount of criticism on the web about them. I have presented images here to illustrate these claims.

Image links to analysis of black men in PETA ads

Nobody is inviting PETA to the party but PETA seems to have enough money to end poverty but they spend it on celebrity endorsements. I am so often shocked by the individuals I assumed were otherwise more sane than the PETA message get sudden amnesia when there is an offer to do a PETA advertisement. What are they offering that suddenly people see the situation from PETA’s perspective and not everybody else saying, “ENOUGH.” PETA’s pocket is clear with the sheer number of celebrities in their ads and we know that a lot of them do not come cheap. Sir Paul McCartney posed for PETA campaigns. While I am not privy to the business negotiations, my wager is that it came in at a bit more than $50-100 an hour which is close to standard industry rate.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe someone needs to think about why we need more posters and marketing rather than tangible food solutions that can be implemented by people living in poverty or anywhere under the upper middle class tax brackets.

Shackled, beaten, abused: then why is it written as an enticing headline? Why are the abusers of color here when people of color are rarely depicted in PETA ads in general?

PETA has an office in Oakland in a very quaint part of town by the lake. I’m sure they make a few editorial decisions about which campaigns they run near the office. Those little klan hood shenanigans might not play to this audience the same way. For the most part they keep a low profile only occasionally hosting a vegan bake sale for animal rights. Still, when I walk past them, I always get riled up. Are they in Oakland because of the cheap real estate where they can have this gorgeous view of the lake in a retail district for a fraction of the cost because it’s Oakland.

They ran this “pregnant pig” campaign two mother’s days in a row.

It is so fucking insulting to see a company drop as much money as they have on racist advertising clearly aiming for the Tucker Max crowd (“I Hope They Serve Celery In Hell”) and then move into Oakland because you can get an office in as awesome as a spot as where they’re at dirt cheap. Hahaha, this is because racism impacts property value and the Möbius strip of power and money and whiteness protect themselves and their interests endlessly.

It calls for a Jurassic Park showdown.

I want you to think of the climax of Jurassic Park. Our human protagonists are in the visitors center and things have gone disastrously wrong and they are surrounded by the raptors and about to become lunch. HOLY DEUS EX MACHINASAURUS REX, BATMAN! The organized team spirit evil of the raptors is defeated by the more amoral lumbering unorganized evil that is the T-Rex. We cheer for the T-Rex and relish in that dependable Spielberg shot that picks you up and makes you feel good about the narrative and your cinematic experience where the living breathing dinosaur replaces the fossilized skeleton and the banner, “When dinosaurs ruled the earth” triumphantly falls around her as she tips her head back and roars.

So what I’m saying is, where are the vegan manarachists and why aren’t they crawling all over this spot yet? Are the powers of cupcakes and advertising more compelling than solidarity? (Answer: Solidarity is harder to come by than cupcakes.)


White privilege is so insidious, it can even ruin animal rights. Totally unquestioned privilege that flaunts its wealth with really damaging advertising and then moves to a town seriously impacted by incredible challenges of poverty and racism is really disgusting.

Oakland does have many people of color working hard on issues of food justice and sovereignty. Veganism isn’t white the same way riding a bike to work isn’t white. The people with the self-righteous advertising campaigns with glossy photos are often full of privilege but that doesn’t mean they own the issues they are working on. I think of Sistah Vegan, Food Empowerment, Eco Soul Food (Oakland’s Bryant Terry), Urban Organic, People’s Grocery, Oakland Based Urban Gardens, and other programs that are more or less covert that could do so much with the cash that PETA puts into one celebrity advertisement.

A lot of social justice programs have white faces when there have been people working on them for a long time. It’s frustrating because until racism and sexism are acknowledged, what happens is that actions that are on the ground and working for the betterment of the people get segregated by white supremacist organizations like PETA who concentrate 100% on flashy marketing rather than substantive activism. They wind up displacing many of the truly radical organizations that are actively working for changes and supporting people along the way.

In order to be a white ally with People’s Grocery, you are asked to go through specific allyship and anti-racist training and to take on the grunt work so that the voices and faces of people of color take the stage. I think this is awesome and it’s something that I would like to see with other organizations as well. For anyone annoyed who wants to debate “reverse racism” with me, you will be ignored and also you can review all of these PETA ads as some of the many reasons why white activists might be viewed with an amount of caution from justice activists.

PETA pisses me off and I am working on taking that energy to consider the internalized racism I still embody and working on embodying justice in a way that moves towards reducing my harm footprint on earth. You cannot assign yourself the title of ally. All I can think about are the actions and words I want to use and work towards. Ally is not an identity, it is a series of behaviors that demonstrate solidarity. That’s what I want to do and it’s a process that doesn’t end. It’s something I will be working on all of my life because humans are predisposed to taking the easy route and I have been endowed with privileges that make more of these shortcuts apparent to me.

On top of that, no one likes PETA and they seriously need to check themselves and why they’re sitting in my community and what they’re doing for it.

As for my own choices, I still struggle with how to have a diet that creates less harm. In general, we need to have a framework that maintains the dignity of earth and its resources, animals, and humans alike. Agriculture is often an agent of extreme evil and abuses so broad they are horrible for animals (with pesticides and totally gutting their food and environments), humans who work on the farm, humans who eat the food, and anyone else who accidentally gets their satanic patented seeds.

I know that behavior change comes in steps and food sovereignty gave me a better understanding of food ethics and how they support justice. It’s unlikely I’ll ever take on the identity of “vegan” per se. I do think I’ll continue to work on defining and embodying food ethics and reducing my reliance on destructive patterns of eating. I think there’s a world of difference of maintaining a small farm where one would forge symbiotic relationships with chickens, goats, cows, and other domestic farm animals. I just don’t think that mass production of anything has come without a substantial price we have yet to fully comprehend. I don’t think we can mass produce life the way we are without tipping balances and resources. It means that things are developing in isolation rather than as part of environments and ecosystems.

It’s just not as simple as GO VEGAN CUZ HOT CHICKS. WANT ONE OR BE ONE! LOL! We do a disservice to everyone if that’s the only manner of teaching and considering these issues.

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Filed under activism, community, culture

30 responses to “Dear PETA: Shut The Fuck Up

  1. L

    I haven’t really heard much about PETA (I live in Aus and I’m not sure it’s that big here) but HOLY HECK those ads are insulting on so many levels..

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  4. When any of the people complaining about PETA are getting as much done as PETA is, then I’ll listen. PETA is not just preaching to the choir the way most of us are. PETA is trying to reach people who will not be reached by simple logic, kindness, and conscience. I don’t enjoy their ads, but I’m not in the demographic. You probably aren’t either.

    • What PETA is accomplishing is contributing to the oppression of other humans. They are an unethical organization, hands down. Looking at humans as demographics to be marketed to is like treating humans like slot machines to hit on with hopes you’ll get lucky regardless of who you hurt and it’s unacceptable. It doesn’t matter if I’m not in their “demographic” or not, I will not stand by while they use microaggression to promote their brand by harming people with their chosen imagery.

      Believe it or not, you can teach animal rights without promoting bigotry and promoting white supremacist paradigm.

      Moreover, can you cite any information that PETA has done any good other than paying celebrities for being famous? I do know that they are responsible for egregious amounts of euthanasia of homeless pets and they do NOT support no kill shelters.

      I do and will continue to support organizations that do not promote hate and bigotry. I listed several of those at the bottom of the article although I doubt as a PETA shill you read any of this at all.

      • dellia

        Well said Maggie. I’d love to know what “good” they’re actually doing. I’ve never met anyone who became a vegan or vegetarian because of a PETA ad. Have they actually achieved anything?

      • Paul

        dellia… They have achieved very little but it still counts as a little… They have helped expose a couple CAFOs that are extremely cruel and unsanitary. They have helped shed a little light on a small fraction of the animal abuse that goes on. But it has only been a few small steps towards helping animals… For the most part they have demonized people who eat the balanced diet nature intended for us to eat… And in doing so they have put off far more people and done more to shoot themselves in the foot than any good they have ever done. They have managed to piss off a lot of people but are too stupid to realize that that kind of publicity actually is bad. They need to learn the same lesson the greedy woman-hating Republicants just learned, bat-shit-crazy extreme is a very bad thing and it turns people off.

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  6. This is why PETA is doing this, because this is what catches attention… sure they could spend more money on the problem, but then PETA goes out of business because everyone stops caring. Unfortunately in our society in order to get people to do good, sometimes you have to guilt them into it :/

  7. Wildheartmuse

    PETA just shows us that animals are treated horribly and we ingest their pain and suffering. It is up to us if we continue to enjoy flesh. If you are embarrassed or upset by these ads then rethink your choices………simple. Those who choose to follow a plant based diet are always getting shit on by those of us who want to continue doing what we are doing. Get over it, some of us choose cruelty and others don’t. But choice is choice….no matter how you choose.

    • Paul

      Really Wildheartmuse??? Does PETA show us that plants are treated horribly and we ingest their pain and suffering (and a ton of chemicals too)? We have factory farms, super scary GMOs, plants drowned in chemicals, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and land that can’t sustain anything but roundup resistant crops and weeds (weeds which are quickly becoming roundup resistant). The fruits and veggies that come out of those factory farms today have a fraction of the minerals and nutrients than the veggies we grew just 20 years ago. We are ingesting all that pain and suffering (and chemicals) with every fruit and veggie we eat. What is PETA doing to make those choices any better? And how do poor people afford to eat healthy and organic?

      I happen to have money and I can afford to eat organic… So I eat organic produce and meats… But the poor cannot afford to eat as I do. And if PETA wants a pro-veggie world, then they need to stand up and help do something about the sorry ass state of our current farms and produce. Let’s all work on better quality fruits and veggies that taste better and are better for us and are still affordable. PETA is no different than the pro-lifers that don’t adopt unwanted children… These are big fat hypocrites that only complain about the problems and try to impose their stupidity upon others. Last I checked, we live in the USA and we have a right to choose and not have jerk-wads impose their personal choices on the rest of us.

      We are not “embarrassed or upset” because we eat the omnivore diet that nature intended for us to eat. We are irritated because PETA nut job whackos are trying to force their lies and stupidity upon us and doing so in very bad taste that is degrading to human dignity. PETA is worse than the religies that come knocking on my door (and disturbing my peace and sleep) and try to convince me that all people were inbred from Adam and Eve and then inbred again thanks to Noah and his inbred Ark… Intelligent people do not live in that world of stupidity and cognitive dissonance, we live in reality, and in reality, nut job whackos are real assholes.

  8. T

    Do you know there are blatant porn images being advertised on this page?

    • Are you aware that I am a sex worker, a sex worker rights activist, and that I’m in some of the blatant porn being advertised? Cheers, friend.

      • T

        No, I wasn’t aware. This was my first visit to your page, and will unfortunately be my last. I can’t access your page when there are pornographic images, primarily because I access the internet through my University server and could get into shit for it, but also because of personal preference. Don’t get me wrong… I am a pretty sex positive individual, am very supportive of the LGBTQ community, and have been best friends with a sex worker for the last 12 years. With that said, I don’t particularly enjoy having gratuitous asshole/dick/vagina imagery being shoved in my face when I am reading (and have other people with perhaps more sensitivities capable of seeing my screen).

        It’s a shame though because I reckon you could get a lot more readers and regular traffic if your advertisements weren’t so off-putting. You seem to have a lot of really interesting things to say and I would probably be a regular reader otherwise.

        Anyway, I wish you the best of luck! Stay safe out there :)

        Maggie Mayhem Here: I am amazed that someone would come to my blog, tell me that I’m super smart and if I just weren’t the person I am making a living the best I can and if I would censor my whole life to make it easier for them to visit my blog, then they would come and enjoy my content for free! I’m glad people tell me I’m just too porny for a smart girl. This is condescending as fuck.

        Instead of being paternialistic to someone with a different life than you, try downloading READABILITY which is an awesome piece of software that gets rid of the images so you can focus on the content. It’s great for accessibility for everyone, whether they’re hiding from sex or moving GIFS that can trigger health conditions.

        Don’t tell me to change who I am so you can freely enjoy my content.

      • Paul

        Hmmmm… This is my first visit here and I had no problem figuring out that Maggie Mayhem is a sex worker /blogger/ very real and cool and up front honest person.

        I actually enjoy the gratuitous asshole/dick/vagina imagery being shoved in my face… Most people are way too uptight about nudity/porn and there is nothing more awesome than the human body. Artists have been fascinated with it since humans first appeared. People have been obsessed with it for just as long. Nothing has driven technology as fast as the porn industry and all of us can thank porn for that (especially the medical imaging field). I personally prefer looking at the female body and I adore every feminine line and curve from women of all shapes and sizes (except the severely obese). As an artist I appreciate the male body and parts but I just don’t adore it as I do the female body. I am a pretty sex positive individual, and I am very supportive of the LGBT community as well, I guess the difference is that my actions actually back up my words.

        I’m going to go out on a limb here… The conclusion I came to is that Maggie seems like a intelligent person who knows exactly what she is doing and wants. Do you think it is possible that she might like the fact that the porn ads drive away the boring/repressed people and make her blogging more interesting and fun? (That seemed kinda obvious to me and assuming she didn’t already know this seems condescending, rude, and a wee bit clueless.)

  9. Artemisia

    I’m with Jess on this one. Even the most oppressed and downtrodden humans have a lot more voice than any of these animals. So – sorry, but those ads are *not about* the people. Perhaps you could get offended somewhere that’s really *meant* to hurt humans.

  10. Paul

    PETA has the potential to do a lot of good… However, that potential is completely unrealized and wasted on an anti-meat agenda. PETA ignores science and facts and replaces them with a far too radical agenda… Example, fish do not have pain receptors in their mouths (one of the reasons they can eat spiny creatures as part of their diet… Yet PETA likens fishing to that of hooking a dog in the mouth (Unlike fish, dogs actually do have pain receptors in the mouth). Most of the garbage lies and BS pushed by PETA goes against anything credible that they could push (like CAFOs). If PETA stuck to facts and took it down from extreme radical to just to the outer right edge of sanity then they could accomplish a lot of good. They have some decent ads that lean towards risqué humor, and those ads are somewhat effective… They just need to get rid of the brain washed nut jobs that work for them and get someone with a better vision… Currently they are pushing a Nazi Veganism agenda when they should be pushing an agenda to stop cruelty towards animals…

    Let’s face it, people will never stop eating meat, animals will never stop eating meat either. If it were not for meat, our ancestors would have died long ago. We are omnivores, not herbivores… If we develop extra stomachs and evolve into herbivores, then that would be a different story. But that is never going to happen and contrary to the current PETA agenda, going Vegan is just as unhealthy as going all meat… It can sustain us for a while, but it doesn’t give us all the nutrients our bodies need. I am really fond of a quote from Julia Childs, “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. If PETA wants the ethical treatment of animals then that is what they need to start pushing for instead of the elimination of animals as a food source.

  11. pitbullgirl65

    “In general, we need to have a framework that maintains the dignity of earth and its resources, animals, and humans alike.”

    YESX1000. I don’t know why some people think these issues are mutually exclusive.

  12. Teresa

    PETA has vastly oversimplified the issues – they are not marketing an environmentally sustainable lifestyle, they are marketing a philosophy, just like political campaigners do. They have a right to do so, but they do not offer alternatives, and I am concerned that people will simply see the ads and turn to cereal crops: which are nearly as destructive to the environment (and animals!) as CAFOs are, not particularly good for humans nutritionally to base a diet on, and grown in vast swaths of monoculture agriculture using pesticides, herbicides, and irrigation techniques.
    Better is to eat local, organic, meat and veggies grown on polyculture/permaculture/agroforest farms – that is true sustainability which builds soil, treats animals with respect, and supports humans.

  13. Dina

    I totally agree with all the pro-moderation comments here. I am an ex-vegetarian who had to go back to eating meat for health reason, and I was disappointed of the lack of information available for those who want to eat non-industrial, no-pain (if that’s possible) meat. In Europe, organic meat only means that the food given to the animals is organic, but it tells nothing about the way animals are treated. But fortunately, I happened to live in a part of Germany where there’s easy access to local organic farms, and where local game meat (the most ethical kind of meat) is available. Although it took me time to gather up all that information.

    PETA is very representative of that trend of self-righteous vegans who simply tell you to stop animal products alltogether. As Paul said, I don’t think this is realistic, as there are people who simply can’t do without animal proteins.

    In Austria or Sweden, they passed law against industrial cattling. If Peta could pressure governments to pass such laws, or encourage people to find animal product that are ethically produced when they can’t go vegan, I’m sure the condition of farm animals would improve much quicker.

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  15. Gore Lando

    It’s so funny that feminists think they now “own” the left.

    Until feminism stops ignoring class, which is a more powerful source of privilege than all of the others combined, it will continue to be a laughingstock.

    • Paul

      Hey Gore… I’m not sure how you were trying to come off, but it seemed like you were throwing out a bit of a rant, but it had very little meaning and I’d say you missed your mark. I can’t tell if you were trying to insult PETA, Maggie, women, feminists, people on the “left”, or any combination of them.

      Prejudicial political terminology like the left, class, liberal, privilege, etc. do nothing but warn the rest of us that you you most likely don’t have a original thought and are just parroting the bigotry that you have been brainwashed to regurgitate. More importantly, (pay extra attention to this part), those words are extremely vague in their meanings as they have many different contextual meanings AND have recently been skewed and distorted in ways that make it impossible for anyone to decipher, with any precision, what someone is trying to mean when they use those words/terms.

      In modern times (today), I don’t think you could call anyone in the USA a feminist. Just like you really cant define anyone as a hippie. Another example is that current black panthers are nothing like the black panthers of the 60s. We do have civil rights activists today, but not in the way we used to. Those terms/labels just doesn’t apply anymore.

      In the USA, most of the feminist agenda has been realized and other than a few lose ends, that movement is over because it won. When the goal of a movement has been realized, that becomes part of history. Some people may claim to be feminists, but I don’t think they understand the true meaning of the title and that the title held by being a current activist for women’s rights (granted, there are still a few working on the final few lose ends, fair wages comes to mind but I still wouldn’t call them “feminists”). I think there is a feminist movement starting in other countries (middle eastern countries) and if it gets going, I would consider those activist to be feminists.

      In general terms, feminism does not exist (especially if relating to PETA, by definition PETA is an American animal rights organization based in Norfolk, Virginia, and led by Ingrid Newkirk), and, no one is ignoring class. Class is on everyones mind as it has been a huge part of what is currently dividing the USA. Class was beaten to death in this last Presidential Re-Election and is one of the main reasons the Republicants lost. Class is not a source of privilege by any means, it’s just a label. Money, power, and most importantly, the influence of an individual upon others is the source of privilege. But the term class is still extremely vague, the term has too many different contextual meanings.

      If you happen to read this Gore, please clarify what you meant to say originally (but please do not use the words feminists, left, feminism, class, or privilege). And in the future, if you care about communicating what you mean to others (accurately), then you might want to refrain from using those terms/words (forever).


  16. If only I could come up with a way to bait PETA and Autism Speaks into destroying each other and ridding the world of their evil.
    (Dear animal rights and autism advocates: when an autistic lifelong animal rights activist is saying this about you, you might be doing it wrong!)

    Anyway, great article, as always!

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