What's the beef? Veganism can bring peace to Middle East, says PETA head

What's the beef? Veganism can bring peace to Middle East, says PETA head
The leader of the PETA animal rights groups has offered an unorthodox solution to political turmoil in the Middle East.
2 min read
10 Sep, 2017
PETA is often criticised for its 'extreme' tactics in promoting animal rights [AFP]

With Israelis and Palestinians at an impasse for decades, the head of US-based animal rights organisation PETA has suggested a novel way to bring about Middle East peace.

"Peace begins at the breakfast table," Ingrid Newkirk, president and founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA], told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

While many will be surprised by the animal rights activists' idea, Newkirk insisted that her suggestion was a serious one. 

"This is not a simplistic statement," she added. "How can we expect to have peace if we ourselves are putting animals through a slaughterhouse? They are fellow living beings like us, and if we can't understand that, how can we expect to have a greater understanding of other people in the world? So I encourage everybody, use your power, use your voice, be the person you want to be."

PETA, which is one of the world's largest animal rights groups, says it campaigns against animal testing, livestock farming and other industries. Their mission is to achieve a "cruelty free life" for animals.

Despite its lofty ambitions, the organisation has often been criticised for taking an "extreme" stance on several issues.

The organisation once described milk as a "racist" drink and in 2007 members of the group dumped a ton of manure outside a London restaurant after its owner, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, appeared on television cooking horse meat.

It has also been criticised for carrying out a high number of euthenasia procedures of animals handed into their centres. 

PETA defends its tactics saying they are deliberately "colourful and controversial" and designed to grab headlines.

Speaking ahead of an animal rights march in Israel, Newkirk praised the country as a "leader" in environmental consciousness and veganism

"Israel is a leader in the switch to vegan eating, vegetarian foods, for animals but also for the environment; there is a huge environmental consciousness," Newkirk said.

She also highlighted that Israelis are well placed to adopt veganism due to the counrties "wonderful wealth of fresh produce". 

She also said that people in the Middle East would not need to local far for wholesome, vegan food.

"Tasty vegan food like hummus, falafel and tahina - which were once regional specialties - have now proliferated the global food market and have become mainstream."

While Newkirk's suggestion for solving the Middle East's troubles might be viewed as naive by some, but she may be right about Israel's progressive attitudes towards animal rights.

Some might more cynical about the country's appropriation - or "theft" - of Arab "vegan" cuisine.

Many will be asking, however, why this same compassionate approach is not shared for Palestinians...