Can Texans ever be expected to give up eating meat? It would seem doubtful in a state famous for such tasty Tex-Mex cuisine, barbecue and steaks. But you have to hand it to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for coming up with a strategy that’s at least gaining some attention to the cause of vegetarianism, if not so many conversions.
The PETA folks were out at the Alamo yesterday for an action that sought to demonstrate how vegetarianism can help save water and battle global warming.
It looked like every TV news crew in town was lined up at Alamo Plaza to get footage of slender PETA volunteer Kelly Anderson taking an outdoor shower to get out the vegetarian message.
Anderson was covered only by strip of shower curtain with messages like “Clean Your Conscience: Go Vegetarian,” “One pound of meat = 2,463 gallons of water” and “One pound pound of meat = six months of showers.”
“People are shocked when they learn how resource intensive meat production is,” said PETA Environmental Campaigns Coordinator Colleen Higgins.
“It’s a great way to draw attention to a very important subject,” said Higgins when asked about the strategy of using a scantily clad woman taking a shower to get out the message.
Higgins, who came in from Atlanta to spearhead the action, said she had planned to be the one in the shower herself until Anderson called from Austin to volunteer. The tour will continue through Texas and Louisiana.
“It’s a high traffic location, a very effective way of reaching the most amount of people possible,” responded Higgins when asked by a TV reporter about why they were holding such an action at the revered Alamo site.
Higgins and company passed out “Vegetarian Starter Kit” magazines with tips on vegetarian eating as well as endorsements from celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Queen Amidala (aka Natalie Portman), Spiderman (aka Toby Maguire), Forest Whitaker, Pamela Anderson, Joaquin Phoenix, the Dalai Lama and more. The magazines also included literature on how the meat industry affects global warming, pollution and energy use.
The lit said that a 2006 U.N. report found the meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined. It also said researchers at the University of Chicago have determined that going vegetarian is more effective in countering global warming than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid, and that more than 90 percent of all Amazon rainforest land cleared since 1970 is used for meat production.
Higgins doesn’t expect everyone to turn vegetarian overnight and advised folks to start slow. She also said eating vegetarian has been shown to lower risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke.
“With the amount of steroids and hormones in meat, it’s not healthy at all,” added Higgins. She said that San Antonio has some quality vegetarian restaurants, but I have to report that you’ll be hard pressed to find any around Alamo Plaza or the Riverwalk.
After the action, I felt my usual urge to grab some chili con carne at Casa Rio, as I often do when I have downtown business in the mid-afternoon. But after viewing the PETA action, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’ve been working on cutting back my meat consumption ever since I first saw that rainforest stat in 1998, and while I still enjoy eating meat, I endeavor not to eat it all the time. I didn’t find much in the way of vegetarian cuisine downtown though, and wound up settling for a salad. This is not to say I won’t be back for some chili con carne next week, but it just felt inappropriate yesterday.
While it may be difficult to find tasty vegetarian cuisine in downtown San Antonio, your grocery store is another matter. The PETA vegetarian starter kit suggests trying the ever-growing lineup of mock meats available at grocery stores, such as veggie burgers, chik’n patties, pseudo-buffalo wings and veggie corn dogs from makers like Morningstar Farms and Boca. I’ve been eating all of these at home for years. The key is to get the ones made with soy, which does a fair approximation of meat’s taste and texture, then add your usual condiments. Watch out for veggie burgers made with mushrooms, which tend to be mushy and bland. Mock-meat products also tend to be cheaper than their meat equivalents, an added benefit in these economically challenging times.
PETA tried to launch their vegetarian message on a national level with a racy Super Bowl commercial suggesting that vegetarians have better sex. But the spot was rejected by NBC censors, who said the ad “depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.”
The rejection suggests NBC may well be in cahoots with the meat industry. The PETA commercial features “a bevy of beauties who are powerless to resist the temptation of veggie love,” using vegetables in some sexually suggestive ways. NBC objected to “rubbing pelvic region with pumpkin,” and a woman "screwing herself with broccoli," but I fail to see any broccoli being used in such a way.
Meanwhile, NBC had no problem airing a salacious GoDaddy.com commercial during the Super Bowl that featured a computer geek taking voyeuristic pleasure in using some kind of mind-control to make race car babe Danica Patrick take multiple showers. It was certainly one of the more intriguing Super Bowl spots, but its airing suggests blatant discrimination by NBC against PETA.
So do vegetarians have better sex? “They do,” said PETA’s Higgins when posed the question, although there was no reasoning given for why. Perhaps further research is in order.
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