Look be­hind the mnemonic

Country Life Every Week - - Letters To The Editor - Fol­low @agromenes on Twit­ter

FEW COUN­TRY LIFE read­ers will be sup­port­ers of PETA (Peo­ple for the Eth­i­cal Treat­ment of An­i­mals), the an­i­mal-rights or­gan­i­sa­tion. How­ever, I could only ad­mire its flair for pub­lic­ity in com­man­deer­ing the vil­lage of Wool for its re­cent ve­gan cam­paign. It gar­nered head­lines in ev­ery news­pa­per and gave the is­sue the widest of cov­er­age. Not since those five fa­mous su­per­mod­els posed naked rather than wear furs has PETA scored such a PR hit, putting it to the front of ev­ery­one’s mind with a vengeance.

How­ever, now the pub­lic­ity has run its course and Wool has re­turned to its usual quiet ex­is­tence, I think it’s time we took the pre­ten­tious Amer­ica-based or­gan­i­sa­tion and its false­hoods head on. Un­like Com­pas­sion in World Farm­ing, and even the RSPCA, this is not an or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to an­i­mal wel­fare and the abo­li­tion of cru­elty. In­stead, I be­lieve it is pur­su­ing aims that are thor­oughly an­tag­o­nis­tic to the coun­try­side and dam­ag­ing to the wider wel­fare of Bri­tain.

We can use­fully take the group’s ini­tials as a mnemonic. P is for peo­ple whose in­ter­ests PETA ap­pears to­tally to ig­nore, so fix­ated is it upon an­i­mals that it doesn’t ac­knowl­edge any role for hu­man be­ings in hus­bandry. Although it uses in­ci­dents of cru­elty to add weight to its cam­paigns, it’s not the cru­elty that counts, it’s the fact that we ‘use’ an­i­mals at all that angers the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Thus, the wool from the most pet­ted of sheep is to be con­demned in favour of man­made fi­bres, hemp or cot­ton.

There’s no ac­knowl­edge­ment that sheep are on the hills only be­cause gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple have cared for them in or­der to shear their wool and eat their meat. Take that away and we will have no sheep—and no cows, pigs or chick­ens. The en­tire PETA phi­los­o­phy den­i­grates peo­ple, but, were it im­ple­mented, it would be an­i­mals that would suf­fer al­most to ex­tinc­tion.

Then there’s E, for the en­vi­ron­ment. PETA seems to have no use for the en­vi­ron­ment. Its at­ti­tude to farm­ing would leave much of our most beau­ti­ful up­lands un­tended and their green swathes would be­come bram­ble-rid­den thick­ets. No an­i­mals means no graz­ing, which means the land­scape that cen­turies of farm­ing has cre­ated would be changed beyond recog­ni­tion—yet the dam­age doesn’t stop there.

As to­day’s mono­cul­ture has shown, with­out an­i­mals, the fer­til­ity of arable land is se­ri­ously re­duced and the move back to mixed farm­ing is in­creas­ingly nec­es­sary to nour­ish the plants upon which PETA’S mem­bers rely. What’s more, its en­thu­si­asm for man­made fi­bres en­tirely ig­nores the dam­age be­ing done to fish, seabirds and prob­a­bly to hu­man be­ings by the vast quan­ti­ties of mi­crofi­bres that wash­ing these clothes sends into our rivers and oceans.

T is for twad­dle—the non­sense that PETA spouts. It’s not only that a ve­gan world de­void of live­stock harms the en­vi­ron­ment and soil and leaves no place for pigs and cows and sheep, it also could be bad for hu­man health. Of course, we eat too much meat and, of course, we’re pro­duc­ing too much bad meat, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat meat, drink milk or con­sume eggs. Less and bet­ter should be our watch­words. Hu­man be­ings are om­ni­vores. We are con­sti­tu­tion­ally cre­ated to eat meat and our health can suf­fer if we don’t.

Last, we should think of the A—that’s for an­i­mals. They’re what the whole busi­ness is sup­posed to be about, yet it’s the an­i­mals that would suf­fer most were PETA to be a suc­cess. Its en­tirely sen­ti­men­tal ap­proach would have the op­po­site ef­fect that it in­tends. Fewer an­i­mals, no hus­bandry and a mis­er­able diet: what a prospect! PETA de­serves and should get our full-hearted op­po­si­tion.

PETA is pur­su­ing aims that are an­tag­o­nis­tic and dam­ag­ing

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