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PETA is now fat-shaming women into vegan diets
Recent findings about Plan B have spurred the advocacy group's questionable new campaign
PETA has a thing for skinny women.
PETA has a thing for skinny women. (PETA.org)
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n the past, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has resorted to such extreme tactics as comparing people who eat meat to Nazis. In that respect, perhaps its latest campaign to fat-shame women into vegan diets isn’t that bad. But it’s still pretty bad.

In an attempt to gain vegan converts, PETA has jumped on the recent news that Plan B, a morning-after pill, may be ineffective for women weighing more than 176 pounds.

In a display of convoluted logic that acts as a thin veil for its agenda to get as many people to go vegan as possible, PETA announced in a press release that women should adopt “Plan V” as a “Plan B lifeline for overweight women.”

PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk believes that the campaign “will encourage women to adopt a healthy vegan diet in order to lose weight and so take control of their reproductive rights.” She has even reached out to Population Connection, a pro-family planning and sustainable growth group.

Unfortunately, the connection between being overweight, going vegan, and being able to use Plan B doesn’t flow quite as smoothly as the people at PETA probably hoped.

For one, it is easy to forget but extremely important to remember that the reported weight limit does not amount to a “no fat chicks” label. Whether a woman is 6 feet tall or 5 feet tall, 176 pounds remain the cutoff. The Body Mass Index (BMI), which is what determines whether one is classified as overweight or obese, has nothing to do with it. So losing weight is not necessarily a factor at play for women unable to use Plan B.

But that hasn't stopped PETA from telling women that vegan diets will help them shed pounds, which has the added benefit of making them eligible to pose naked for PETA. And although PETA says “vegans are 18 percent thinner than their counterparts,” there isn’t medical evidence that vegetarian or vegan diets actually lead to weight loss. It’s just a correlation, PETA.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that PETA has played up thin (and hot) women to its advantage. As Kate Dries at Jezebel writes, “PETA’s history of using ‘sexy’ ladies to promote their agenda is long and storied, which is to say it’s incredibly tired.”

And if it weren’t bad enough for PETA to pressure women into losing weight for its own vegan agenda, it’s even worse that it’s obfuscating a serious reproductive issue.

Population Connection’s president, John Seager, expressed just that concern. In an email to Mother Jones, he writes:

It would be unfortunate if the importance of access to and consistent use of modern contraception gets lost in some wide-ranging discussion about everything under the sun, including the many positive benefits of a vegan diet.

Emily Shire is chief researcher for The Week magazine. She has written about pop culture, religion, and women and gender issues at publications including Slate, The Forward, and Jewcy.

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