How far is too far when it comes to shock-marketing? Is there any cause that is such a good cause that there should be no limitations to the methods used in order to illicit a response from the public?
PETA is an organization that is no stranger to shock-marketing tactics. They have caused controversy around the world with one outrageous ad campaign after another, relying heavily on the opinion that there is no such thing as bad publicity. But is that true? Are there some lines that shouldn't be crossed? Or are they correct in their logic and that any attention brought to a cause through any means is better than no attention at all?
PETA's most recent ad campaign (seen above) has caused outrage and controversy among many activist communities: Vegan, Vegetarian, Feminist and Sexist. Through their most recent billboard, PETA suggests that omnivores are fatter than vegetarians and that the obesity epidemic can be solved by going vegetarian. Obvious sexist issues with the billboard aside, is this assertion true? No. Eliminating meat from one's diet is not the magic bullet that is going to make a fat person a thin person. This is especially wrong in the case of a person transitioning from an omnivorous diet to a vegetarian one in which initially high protein foods are often substituted with high fat foods. There is no conclusive evidence that supports PETA's claim that a vegetarian diet is a magic blubber-buster. The image is upsetting and the billboard has been a popular topic among blogging vegans nationwide.
What are your thoughts?
Here are mine: I don't have an issue with PETA bringing attention to the obesity epidemic; It's a problem that is supported by the propagation of false education surrounding diet in our country and around the world. What I do have an issue with is the falseness of the statement on the billboard. Going vegetarian is not going to be the weight loss be all and end all that it promises and, in fact, it can have the opposite effect, as I personally experienced. As a young and uneducated vegetarian, I made the most obvious substitutions for meat in my diet; I exchanged the meat for cheese, and carbs. I still ate pizza loaded with cheese and veggies, I traded in my meat sandwich for a cheese sandwich with extra mayo and I ate more fried vegetables than anyone should. I gained weight, and lots of it. Over the course of a year I probably gained a shocking 30 pounds. What was happening? What was I doing wrong? I was under the same spell that PETA is trying to cast on the public with their new campaign. I wasn't concerned about portion size or fat content, I was only concerned with not eating meat. Meat was evil, wasn't it? Meat was the father of all that was wrong in our society and the dirty little secret behind obesity, wasn't it? Nope. Meat was just the tip of the iceberg and I didn't start losing weight again until I came to my sense, started thinking like an intelligent person and eliminated dairy from my diet as well.
Am I an overweight person? Yes I am. Do I believe that meat was the cause of my obesity? No way. The cause of my obesity was a lack of proper portion perception and a lifetime of food pyramid education provided to me by our friends at the USDA (read sarcasm), not to mention a lack of self control. It isn't easy to admit those things, but they're true. I am not, by any means, suggesting that veganism is the cure for the obesity epidemic, the point I am trying to make is that I don't agree with PETA putting information out there that is blatantly false, and insulting and misleading a whole lot of people in the meantime. You had me with your cute piggy pictures and catchy 'Go Veg' stickers PETA, but for now I'm going to have to break up with you. I can only hope that you seek to redeem yourself in the future by offering honest and true information to your impressionable public.