People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster to go vegan,
October 14, 2019
Jeffrey D. Dunn
President and CEO
Dear Mr. Dunn,
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, in response to reports that Sesame Street has introduced a new character named Karli whose mother is battling addiction. We applaud you for tackling difficult topics by creating characters to whom children can relate and who discuss important issues facing modern society, as you have in the past with characters such as Kami and Julia. Please, will you consider introducing a vegan character so that kids who don’t eat meat for ethical, environmental, health, or religious reasons can also see themselves reflected in popular culture and so that those who still do will learn why others choose not to? Allow me to elaborate.
On today’s factory farms, there are no sunny days for animals. The throats of chickens and turkeys are cut while they’re still conscious, piglets often aren’t given painkillers before their tails and testicles are cut off, fish are suffocated or cut open while they’re still alive on the decks of fishing boats, and calves are taken away from their mothers within hours of birth.
Our young people are facing a future in which they’ll be living with the devastating effects of climate change, and as the mother of a toddler, this issue is particularly important to me. Sesame Street can discuss the impact of climate change by creating storylines in which a vegan Muppet is working to mitigate animal agriculture’s deleterious impact on the environment, which has been extensively documented. A recent analysis by a team of international scientists found that massive reductions in meat consumption are essential to avoid dangerous climate change, including cutting beef consumption by 90% and dairy milk consumption by 60% in Western countries. Globally, the average person will need to eat 75% less beef, 90% less pork, and half the number of eggs. In fact, meat production has such a devastating effect that the Union of Concerned Scientists lists meat-eating as the second-biggest environmental hazard facing the Earth.
Additionally, eating animal products is bad for human health and has been linked to heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Considering that nearly 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant and that milk is the most common allergen affecting young children, a character who doesn’t consume dairy is more than relatable. Even Cookie Monster knows that he must eat his fruits and veggies, and since he included a recipe for vegan cookies in his cookbook, he might even find that he prefers plant-based, cruelty-free cookies!
A vegan Muppet could provide an opportunity for you to teach children about all these important issues and would show them a world that’s tuned into compassion. We look forward to hearing from you.
Very truly yours,
Senior Director, Youth Programs
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently puslibhsed its 2016 report on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ activities as a private animal shelter.
In 2016, PETA took in 2,007 animals total, including 892 dogs and 1,071 cats, along with a handful of other animals. During the same period, they euthanized 557 dogs and 854 cats.
PETA takes a lot of heat over all of the euthanizations they do, but the raw statistics might not tell the whole story. As PETA notes in its intake policy (emphasis added),
PETA’s Animal Shelter and Community Animal Project practice an open admission policy, meaning that we do not turn away animals regardless of their age, history, breed, physical condition, or temperament. The shelter does not use a waiting list or charge a surrender fee, and our staff is available 24/7, including to respond to after-hours emergencies and pick up and transport surrendered animals. PETA often takes in the aggressive or feral animals rejected by other shelters as unadoptable. It also offers a free compassionate euthanasia service to community members who wish to end the suffering of their ill, aged, or injured animal companions but who cannot afford to pay the fees required by most veterinary practices.
It would be interesting to find out what percentage of animals the group euthanizes belong to this last category.
I’d never heard of them before, but apparently there was a popular band in Australia in the 1980s called Hunters & Collectors. According to their Wikipedia page, they formed in 1981 and then broke up in 1998, with some sort of reformation in 2013.
So, of course, this band is a hot button item for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In a March 2, 2017 press release, PETA asked the group to change its name to something more animal friendly.
Dear Mark, John, Doug, Jack, Rob, Barry, Jeremy, and Michael,
I hope this letter finds you well. On the eve of the duck-hunting season, we at PETA Australia have a request that may help save lives: Would you consider changing the name of your band to discourage people from hunting animals?
We feel sure that it was never your intention to promote the killing of intelligent, sensitive, and defenceless animals, but your name may nevertheless make hunting seem appealing to your fans.
. . .
As your Adelaide reunion show is coming up, now is the perfect time to for a band namelift. Might you consider “Hunters & Collectors of Antiques”, “Hunters & Collectors of Vinyl Records”, or even “Hunters & Collectors of Beer Cans” as possible replacements? You could even enlist the help of your fans to crowdsource the holy grail of names on social media.
Do you see what we see? By agreeing to change your name, you would help raise awareness of the cruelty inherent in hunting waterbirds and give ducks a fighting chance.
Associate Director of Campaigns
Apparently it is common for students at Kansas State to sneak live chickens into the auditorium when their team plays rival Kansas, whose mascot is the Jayhawk. The student(s) then throw the chicken out onto the floor as a way of mocking the Jayhaw mascot.
Yeah, it didn’t make any sense to me either.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals got wind of the practice, however, and sent a letter to Kansas State objecting to this mistreatment of animals.
The athletic department followed up with a statement asking fans to discontinue the tradition, saying,
These actions severely tarnish the image of our University, its athletics teams and the majority of our outstanding fans and supporters and while viewed by many as harmless pranks, these acts are likely illegal.
PETA’s Debbie Leahy told the Associated Press, “Any student who throws live birds on a basketball court should be thrown out of school.”
A bigger question might be how the chicken throwers managed to get in to Kansas State in the first place.
N.C. vs. Duke: blood feud. Reggie Hayes, The News-Sentinel (Indiana), March 6, 2007.
Kansas State Athletic Department Condemns Chicken Toss. Associated Press, February 28, 2007.
The Associated Press reported today that Bobby Berosini lost his final appeal in this long-running battle with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
According to the Associated Press, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling requiring Berosini to pay $250,000 in legal fees that PETA incurred in lawsuits related to a defamation lawsuit that Berosini filed against PETA in the late 1980s.
Berosini initially won the first round after a jury awarded him a $3.1 million judgment against PETA. That award, however, was overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court and Berosini was ordered to pay PETA’s legal fees.
According to PETA, Berosini actually paid the $250,000 amount in question in the latest round of lawsuits several years ago.
Former Las Vegas showman loses PETA legal fights fee. Associated Press, March 5, 2007.
Ingrid Newkirk, of all people, gave a speech at a conference addressing violent conflict in the Middle East at which she said,
. . . we call all attacks on civilians, whether against Palestinians in Jenin or Israelis in Tel Aviv, what they are: War crimes.
If we want an end to violence, it means that we must first reject the slaughterhouse, the animal circus, and animal skins and remember that kindness to animals has been a cornerstone of every great religion in the history of the world.
Mohandas Gandhi, one of the icons of the nonviolence movement, taught that how we treat animals shows our ability to empathize with those who are ‘different’ from us, which is the first step toward living in peace with our human neighbors.
Leaving aside the accuracy of her claim about religion and animals, it is interesting that Newkirk declares violence against civilians “war crimes”, but as far as I know neither Newkirk or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has ever apologized for Dan Mathews remarks in admiration of serial killer Andrew Cunanan. Cunanan murdered fashion designer Gianni Versace, and in 1999 PETA’s Mathews, asked to name a 20th century man he loves, replied,
Andrew Cunanan, because he got Versace to stop doing fur.
Animal rights group addresses Mideast conflict. Ynetnews.Com, January 4, 2005.