DETROIT (WWJ) – Can a vegan diet help cut down on violent crime in Detroit? That’s the suggestion of PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in an eye-catching new ad.
Reacting to recent FBI crime numbers in Detroit, the watchdog group is rolling out a colorful billboard that reads: “Peace in our lunch time. Choose peace. Choose vegan” — with a picture of a black person’s fist in the air holding carrots.
“Violence and cruelty to any living being beget more violence and cruelty, whereas compassion for animals who suffer and are killed for the table promotes understanding and kindness,” said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, in a media release. “PETA’s message of peace encourages everyone to save lives, promote nonviolence, and make a difference every day simply by choosing vegan meals.”
In addition to sparing the lives of more than 100 animals a year, PETA says, people who go vegan reduce their risk of suffering from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity — issues important to the Motor City, which has been climbing up “Fattest Cities in America” lists.
Owner of the Detroit Wholistic Center and longtime vegan, Jesse Brown agrees with the basic idea behind PETA’s ad.
“When we make food choices, when we’re really conscientious about what we put into our bodies, then that reflects in other ways; how we treat ourselves all together,” he told WWJ’s Stephanie Davis. “What things do we value? Are we valuing things over people?”
One outspoken local activist feels differently. Sam Riddle of Detroit called out the ad as ignorant and racist, likening PETA to neo-nazis and the KKK.
“Detroit may be America’s fattest and most violent city but to attribute that to us not eating our veggies is racist BS because Detroit is also America’s blackest, most segregated and poorest city,” Sam Riddle said. “PETA compost is comprised of a displaced reality rooted in racist white privilege that would have us growing some damn carrots instead of growing jobs and good schools to combat crime and poverty born of wealth inequality and systemic racism that justifies corporate welfare before helping single mothers.”
Riddle pointed out that, although there’s progress being made, affordable fresh food can still be hard to come by in the inner city.
“We have gardens in Detroit because we can’t afford PETA recommended tofu,” Riddle added. “If PETA wants Detroit to improve our diet, PETA must address the historic roots of why we eat like we eat including slavery on plantations run by PETA ancestors.”
PETA has not yet announced exactly where and when the billboard will appear.