Does anyone else find it ironic that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is treating human beings like pieces of meat?
STEPHANIE BAIN, OF CAMBRIDGE, is just another vegan piece of meat to the folks at PETA.
The animal-rights organization’s fourth annual “Sexiest Vegetarian Alive” contest is including “real people” for the first time this year (rather than confining itself to celebrities), and it just announced its 10 male and 10 female finalists. Cambridge resident Stephanie Bain was among the lucky. The 21-year-old vegan is a first-year student at the New England School of Law, and hopes to make a career out of animal-welfare activism. Bain became a vegan at age 15, after a visit to PETA’s Web site educated her about the cruel treatment of farm animals. “Coupled with the knowledge that eating meat is actually detrimental to your health,” Bain says, “[veganism] made sense.”
Besides being blonde and fresh-faced, Bain is articulate, intelligent, and warm, a well-spoken young woman who is sincere about her commitment to a cruelty-free lifestyle. And yet, in a signature sensationalist ploy to garner attention to its cause, PETA is depicting her as a ditzy pin-up girl in a sailor hat who loves to belly-dance and “whip up tasty treats.” Another finalist’s profile links to a “new explicit PETA video” by “Pam” Anderson that is surely intended to entice horny Web browsers. But open it up and — wham! — you’re hit with a graphic horror show of chickens getting slaughtered. Very clever, you tricky cockteasers. And very manipulative.
PETA has historically had no problem exploiting sexuality in its quest to denounce the exploitation of animals. After all, these are the folks who brought you the “I’d Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur” campaign. And, to be fair, PETA has done a great job of quashing the myth that all vegetarians look like hairy lumps of tofu reeking of patchouli oil; celebrity spokes-sexpots include Pamela Anderson, Casey Affleck, and Joss Stone. But let’s get real. Who’s looking at a naked woman in an anti-meat ad and thinking, “That’s a fine rack. You know what’s not a fine rack? Rack of lamb. I’m goin’ vegan!”?
Most of the write-ups on the final “Sexiest” contestants, found on GoVeg.com, read like asinine Playboy surveys. Instead of looking for “boys who love to feel their feelings,” the turn-ons of these herbivore hotties include “compassion” and “vegan boys.” Sure, the bios include factoids about activism, education, and role models. But yawn! Bring on the titties! After all, sex sells, right? Way to go for promoting your countercultural anti-exploitation message by buying into mainstream marketing tactics. Again.