Sunday, March 12, 2000

PETA wants to grab our milkshakes




BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Boy, did I want to hit the snooze button a few dozen more times Friday. But I got up and went to the office. To top it all off, the gorgeous weather ended just in time for the weekend. I spent those sunny, 70degree days at my desk.

        I work for a living.

        If I'd had my druthers, I'd have spent last week with my good friend Magic — who only works for a living when I make him. The rest of the time, he eats his head off, hangs around with his friends and sleeps as late as he wants. He is a horse. That's what he does for a living.

Division of labor
        Part of the reason I have to get up in the mornings and crawl into work is to make enough money to keep him in comfortable shoes and top-of-the-line horsey food. Not to mention pedicures and shampoo. In return, he occasionally allows me to clamber up on his back for a scenic tour.

        At these times, he does most of the work. His legs are longer, so it only makes sense. Magic wishes I would knock off a few pounds. I wish he came with seat belts and a roll bar.

        We don't always get exactly what we want. Magic and I compromise. I personally think he is happier than he might be if he were out on the range, dodging mountain lions and scrounging for his share of scrubby grass.

        I really can't speak for him.

        In fact, he already has a well-organized advocacy group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). They are not dedicated to animal welfare, but to animal rights. They oppose anyone who “exploits” animals for human benefit or entertainment.

        Since I cannot think of anything more entertaining than sitting on a squeaky leather saddle worn by a horse who did not volunteer for duty, I guess I am guilty on two counts — the leather and the riding.

        Our rides together, I suppose, are a variation of the old joke about a ham and egg breakfast. The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed. So the horse is involved and the cow is committed. Or something like that.

Your milkshake at stake
        Most of us became aware of PETA in connection with fur coats. But in case you haven't been paying attention, they don't just want your fur coat, they don't just want your pork chop — they want your wool sweater and your milkshake. They are not merely vegetarians, but are vegans (Vee-guns), opposed to consumption or use of any animal products, including milk and wool.

        Somebody there has a genius for marketing and a wicked sense of humor. To protest a bass fisherman pictured on the Wheaties box, PETA called him a “cereal killer” and labeled it “Weenies: The breakfast of lip-rippers.” They are responsible for the grotesque poster of a skinned cow's head with the caption, “Do you want fries with that?”

        Now, they have appropriated the “Got Milk?” slogan.

        The PETA campaign, pegged for next week and St. Patrick's Day and aimed at college students, asks “Got Beer?” and suggests that college students should “wipe off those milk mustaches and replace them with foam.” As if they needed the encouragement.

        A cup of 2 percent milk is compared with a cup of regular beer, applauding beer's zero fat and cholesterol. Of course, PETA did not mention calcium or proteins or vitamins. Or alcohol.

        One begins to suspect that PETA, which doesn't like fishermen, circuses, hunters or zoos, doesn't have a love for all God's creatures. They have not taken public positions, for instance, on abortion, the death penalty or hunger.

        And I fear they are living in the past, when we all roamed free. The world is more complicated, maybe even more communal. We trade with one another, a division of labor. Including our animals.

        Get used to it, Bossy. Everybody has to pull her own weight in this world. And milk is your job.

        E-mail Laura Pulfer at laurapulfer@enquirer.com or call 768-8393. Author of I Beg to Differ, she appears regularly on WVXU radio, National Public Radio's Morning Edition and Insight's Northern Kentucky Magazine.