by MPD
Categories: Events
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ingridnewkirkChances are you know the name Ingrid Newkirk. If you don’t, I’d put twenty dollars and a pint of soy ice cream on the fact that you probably know the organization she calls home.

Ingrid is the President and Co-Founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – the largest animal rights group in the world. With over 2 million members, PETA speaks (OK, sometimes screams) for those creatures who have no voice at all.

Ingrid will be attending the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida’s 20th Anniversary Gala on March 14th and we had the privilege of sitting down with Newkirk for a chat!

Check out what Ingrid had to say about ARFF, Meatloaf and willing her body parts when she dies!

Ecorazzi: Hi Ingrid! Welcome to the Razz! Give our readers a brief history on PETA and how you decided to form the organization.

Ingrid Newkirk: Well, I grew up thinking that I cared about animals — and I truly did — but I’m now almost sixty and back then it meant that you knew that somebody kicking a dog was wrong or starving a horse, but you also wore fur, ate animals and didn’t think there was an option to testing cosmetics or shampoos on animals. So when I discovered that there were compassionate choices and that all animals are important – which I thank Peter Singer for that lesson – I suddenly realized that many things in my life had to change or I couldn’t really ever call myself a person that believes in kindness to animals.

So I formed PETA with five friends and our goal was to show people how appalling animals are treated in places most never go, like: laboratories, behind the Big-Top, fur farms and slaughterhouses. We didn’t want to make them sad or depressed, but instead show them that there are wonderful things they could choose instead of supporting those industries. And that’s what we’ve done for almost 30 years.

E: You’re appearing as a special guest at the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida’s 20 Anniversary Gala. How do you feel the organization has helped improve the welfare of animals living in Florida?

IN: Oh, I just have the utmost respect for ARFF – I love their name too. I think their founder Nanci Alexander is absolutely applaudable and truly a visionary. She’s totally devoted to fighting injustice to animals. She’s the one who objected to rounding up all those Muscovy Ducks — those poor things who waddle about totally harmless – and got all the troops out to help pass the ban on pig battery cages. Florida was the very first state to do that. And Ringling Bros. — which of course is an abominable circus — is based in Florida and she never lets an appearance or an event go by without protest. Perhaps most famously of all though, she decided to start Sublime – the vegan restaurant par excellence. I will die with coconut cake on my lips.

E: And speaking of death, you’ve recently arranged to have your body parts turned into “leather” products or barbecued when you die so as to help people recognize the connection between animals and humans. What do you say to those who criticize yourself and PETA for sometimes being too extreme?

IN: Well I don’t think it’s too extreme to use a body that you no longer have any use for, for a social cause – if we’re using that example. I think it’s very exciting that the only thing I really, truly care about – which is making a compassionate society – could live on after I’m gone.

As for generally, we’re like a car wreck! You may not want to look, but you have to turn around and look anyway. And we’ve learned that if we want people to talk about animals when they’re worried about the economy or war or children or any number of distractions, that we have to be provocative, gimmicky, extraordinary and sexy – so we are. And it’s only because seriousness has a very small place in today’s society. If somebody is serious it’s usually about war or the economy, but there’s a war on the Animal Nations and there has been since the beginning of time.

E: Both PETA and Ecorazzi love celebrity helpers. If there’s one celeb you’d love to see go VEG who would it be and why?

IN: Well I’d like Meat Loaf to go VEG.

E: So would we have to call him Veggie Meat Loaf?

IN: Right! He’d have to change his name, but it would be a huge press item. He’s had gastric bypass surgery and he wouldn’t have had to if he’d gone vegan. So I think for that I would choose him.

It’s time Gwyneth Paltrow — well I think she’s already vegetarian…

E: Actually Ecorazzi has posted some pretty interesting stuff about Paltrow promoting turkey and various other animal products on her blog.

IN: Oh really? Alright then I’ll go with Gywenth Paltrow. I’ve actually spotted her eating at Hangawi in New York. Stella McCartney is one of her best friends and if she can’t get it then she might as well eat the fur she wears.

E: There’s a rumor out there that PETA employees are encouraged to date omnivores so as to help convert more vegetarians. Any truth to that?

IN: There’s absolute truth to that! I encourage them! In fact if they get someone to see how wonderful a vegan diet is, I say, “ Dump him. Move on now! It’s his or her turn to go out and get somebody else over to our side.” When you talk to people one of the strongest reasons they go VEG is because they had a girlfriend or a boyfriend who was VEG.

E: Hey, well I have a long line of ex-girlfriends who’ve gone VEG thanks to me!

IN: Very good! I hope you date heavily.

E:  ME TOO!!!! In 30 years of hard work what do you consider your proudest achievement as PETA’s president?

IN: It’s not very sexy, but my proudest achievement, or my happiest thought, is how many people have had their minds, their hearts, their outlooks changed about animals and can no longer see them as things, but really as part of life. That’s my proudest achievement.

If I had to point to something tangible, I think the first convictions of experimenters and factory farmers for cruelty to animals and the end of all crash tests on animals. That was a very hard campaign to win, and now if you see manikins on TV you have to think of PETA.

E: On that same note, is there any campaign in the past 30 years that you would have done differently?

IN: Many of them, but I’m not going to tell!

E: Fair enough! Now I always end with the same question for all the famous vegetarians I interview. If you had the chance to meet one person who you’ve found specifically instrumental in the vegetarian community – dead or alive, past or present – who would it be and why?

IN: Gosh! When I think about this strategically I would want to talk to the early Quakers who were vegetarians. I would also want to talk to Gandhi.

Gandhi had such hardships and he worried if things would really happen, but so did so many of the suffragette vegetarians who saw the lifestyle as an all-encompassing ethic. I would like to strategize with them.

But I think more than that I would like to talk to Sojourner Truth. I don’t think she was vegetarian — I don’t think that issue was even on her map. But her struggle parallels the struggle for animal rights so closely, and she was totally non-violent and very much attacked by the white men of her time. I’d be very curious to have a conversation with her.

Of course a great big thank you to Ingrid Newkirk for taking the time out of her busy schedule to sit down for a chat. Check out her new book One Can Make a Difference — it’s certainty earned a spot on my bookshelf!

Also, make sure you visit and get tickets to attend their 20th Anniversary Gala where you’ll have the chance to rub elbows with Ingrid, Pamela Anderson, Bob Barker and many more hard-working activists!

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  • Elizabeth

    7 Things You Didn’t Know About PETA
    (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

    1) According to government documents, PETA employees have killed more than 19,200 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens since 1998. This behavior continues despite PETA’s moralizing about the “unethical” treatment of animals by farmers, scientists, restaurant owners, circuses, hunters, fishermen, zookeepers, and countless other Americans. PETA puts to death over 90 percent of the animals it accepts from members of the public who expect the group to make a reasonable attempt to find them adoptive homes. PETA holds absolutely no open-adoption shelter hours at its Norfolk, VA headquarters, choosing instead to spend part of its $32 million annual income on a contract with a crematory service to periodically empty hundreds of animal bodies from its large walk-in freezer.

    2 ) PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk has described her group’s overall goal as “total animal liberation.” This means the complete abolition of meat, milk, cheese, eggs, honey, zoos, aquariums, circuses, wool, leather, fur, silk, hunting, fishing, and pet ownership. In a 2003 profile of Newkirk in The New Yorker, author Michael Specter wrote that Newkirk has had at least one seeing-eye dog taken away from its blind owner. PETA is also against all medical research that requires the use of animals, including research aimed at curing AIDS and cancer.

    3) PETA has given tens of thousands of dollars to convicted arsonists and other violent criminals. This includes a 2001 donation of $1,500 to the North American Earth Liberation Front (ELF), an FBI-certified “domestic terrorist” group responsible for dozens of firebombs and death threats. During the 1990s, PETA paid $70,200 to Rodney Coronado, an Animal Liberation Front (ALF) serial arsonist convicted of burning down a Michigan State University research laboratory. In his sentencing memorandum, a federal prosecutor implicated PETA president Ingrid Newkirk in that crime. PETA vegetarian campaign coordinator Bruce Friedrich has also told an animal rights convention that “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” is “a great way to bring about animal liberation,” adding, “Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.”

    4) PETA activists regularly target children as young as six years old with anti-meat and anti-milk propaganda, even waiting outside their schools to intercept them without notifying their parents. One piece of kid-targeted PETA literature tells small children: “Your Mommy Kills Animals!” PETA brags that its messages reach over 1.2 million minor children, including 30,000 kids between the ages of 6 and 12, all contacted by e-mail without parental supervision. One PETA vice president told the Fox News Channel’s audience: “Our campaigns are always geared towards children, and they always will be.”

    5) PETA’s president has said that “even if animal research resulted in acure for AIDS, we would be against it.” And PETA has repeatedly attacked research foundations like the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, solely because they support animal-based research aimed at curing life-threatening diseases and birth defects. And PETA helped to start and manage a quasi-medical front group, the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, to attack medical research head-on.

    6) PETA has compared Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust to farm animals and Jesus Christ to pigs. PETA’s religious campaigns include a website that claims—despite ample evidence to the contrary—that Jesus Christ was a vegetarian. PETA holds protests at houses of worship, even suing one church that tried to protect its members from Sunday-morning harassment. Its billboards taunt Christians with the message that hogs “died for their sins.” PETA insists, contrary to centuries of rabbinical teaching, that the Jewish ritual of kosher slaughter shouldn’t be allowed. And its infamous “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign crassly compared the Jewish victims of Nazi genocide to farm animals.

    7) PETA frequently looks the other way when its celebrity spokespersons don’t practice what it preaches. As gossip bloggers and Hollywood journalists have noted, Pamela Anderson’s Dodge Viper (auctioned to benefit PETA) had a “luxurious leather interior”; Jenna Jameson was photographed fishing, slurping oysters, and wearing a leather jacket just weeks after launching an anti-leather campaign for PETA; Morrissey got an official “okay” from PETA after eating at a steakhouse; Dita von Teese has written about her love of furs and foie gras; Steve-O built a career out of abusing small animals on film; the officially “anti-fur” Eva Mendes often wears fur anyway; and Charlize Theron’s celebrated October 2007 Vogue cover shoot featured several suede garments. In 2008, “Baby Phat” designer Kimora Lee Simmons became a PETA spokesmodel despite working with fur and leather, after making a $20,000 donation to the animal rights group.

    Want evidence? Visit

  • Leanne Mai-ly (Vaute Couture)

    Fabulous Interview, Parrish!

    As for this SPAM comment from Elizabeth (I’ve seen it before on here word for word, which I’ve already spent the energy to respond to her “facts”) it’s interesting to follow her link to and read their group’s description:

    NAIA: “Our members are pet owners…as well as breeders, trainers, veterinarians, research scientists, farmers, fishermen, hunters and wildlife biologists.”

    Right, because hunters, fisherman, and breeders care SO much about saving animals’ lives. Or are they just an animal welfare group who wants to deface a well known AR group? Man, can’t we all just get along? Each is important in the movement…. animal welfare, animal rights, protests, humane education, etc. Let’s fight together, not each other, k?

  • Allyn

    Wow, a lot of ignorance crammed into this one. Meat Loaf was a vegetarian for years, and it didn’t make him skinny and it didn’t protect him from heart disease. And he hasn’t had gastric bypass, either.

    And there are fat vegans, for that matter. I know, because I am one. I guess I’m not doing it right, according to Newkirk, who is a complete sizist twit. She really needs to stop gossiping about celebrities who actually have talent and ability and stick to her work being a provocative attention whore.

  • Common Sense

    Sure, we can all get along, Leanne. As soon as PETA stops funding the bombing of animal testing labs and paying for the defense of those who do. There is a reason why the ELF, who PETA funds, is on the FBI’s list of terrorist groups. Why does no one address that? How about the fact that PETA is against animal research that saves human lives? If it weren’t for animal research, she wouldn’t even be alive to fight for her precious animals. I sincerely hope with all of my heart that after Ingrid dies and her body is butchered, barbequed, and made into clothing, that she rots in hell for eternity. That’s exactly where she belongs.

  • Jesse

    Leanne – Hunters and Fishermen care deeply about the health of the species population – so yes, they care about saving animals’ lives – not at an individual level, but at a community level. They pay millions into conservation programs, F&W, etc., and understand more about ecosystems than most preachy veg urbanites.

    Please link to where you’ve countered this SPAM, I’d love to see the arguments!

    Also, the Animal Rights Movement is bad for the Animal Welfare movement, and Animal Welfare movements mean nothing to the abolitionist Animal Righters. They won’t ever get along.

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