“You Can Live Without Chicken Wings. I Can’t. Try Vegan,” reads the latest public service announcement from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which debuted on January 8. Truer words have never been said (printed), as a larger-than-life image of a chicken reminds passersby that our choice to eat meat is an unnecessary and deadly luxury.
Timed to align with the fast approaching Super Bowl, which will be hosted at the MetLife stadium in New Jersey this coming Sunday, the message specifically targets tourists in town for the festivities. Unfortunately, chicken wings have evolved to go hand-in-hand with football, now an ingrained aspect of this annual sports tradition. (As if equipment fashioned from pigskin weren’t enough cruelty for one franchise.)
“300 million chickens are raised and slaughtered every year just to be eaten on Super Bowl Sunday,” wrote PETA campaign specialist Ashley Byrne on her Facebook page. Now that’s a stark stat. And, comparably devastating, this figure doesn’t come close to approaching how many feathered friends are bred-and-dead for other elective dishes every other day of the year in the US alone. Roughly 9 billion, by the way. Birdbath? More like bloodbath.
With this thought-provoking poster, PETA hopes to raise awareness and inspire change, which is evidently so sorely needed. It’s also promising to see the nonprofit advocating veganism rather than vegetarianism, as sometimes folks forget that dairy and eggs are equally egregious. (I became vegetarian based on a PETA pamphlet I received in 2002. Had I understood then what I know now, I would have eschewed all animal products so much sooner!)
On a less depressing note, Byrne and a volunteer, Michelle Gjuraj, braved the low temps in New York yesterday and took to Times Square to distribute flesh-free wings from Vinnie’s Pizzeria. According to PETA’s senior media coordinator Shakira Croce, the women—scantily clad in black-and-white ref getups—attracted “…tons of guys and people who have never tried vegan wings before.” (No surprise on the guys!)
“They were a hit,” Croce beamed, “and one girl hugged us because she said we looked so cold and it was so nice that we were out there.” We agree! That’s commitment to chickens. Hugs all around.
Akin to football season, the billboard’s prominent placement comes to an end this Sunday. Hopefully during its nearly month-long lifespan it will have left an impression, changing the hearts and minds of some observers’ otherwise chicken-consuming dining decisions.