Cortney O'Brien

As eager families travel to relatives’ homes this week to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, they may be surprised by billboards from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals discouraging holiday merriment. The billboards are targeted at children, reading “KIDS: If you wouldn’t eat your dog, why eat a turkey? Go Vegan.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s latest advertising ploy in Nevada and California is sure to make people lose their appetites.

The animal rights group even took its attack on traditional Thanksgiving dinner all the way to the White House. On Tuesday, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk implored President Obama to forgo the presidential turkey pardon. The event is a tradition in which the Commander in Chief grants a bird forgiveness from ending up the main dish at Thanksgiving dinner.

"It makes light of the mass slaughter of some 46 million gentle, intelligent birds and portrays the United States' president as being in some sort of business partnership with the turkey-killing industry," Newkirk wrote in a letter to the White House. Newkirk also asked the president to choose a "delicious, healthy Tofurkey" for his holiday dinner instead.

Many charities and food banks are in desperate need of help, yet donors blindsided by PETA’s attention grabbing advertising are cutting checks for animals instead of people.

PETA’s misguided allocation of money is no surprise considering its long history of valuing animals over human life. In 2003, the group embarked on a campaign in California entitled “Holocaust on Your Plate.” At the event, 60-square-foot panels showed chilling scenes from Nazi death camps juxtaposed with disturbing photographs from factory farms and slaughterhouses. That’s not where PETA ended the comparison, making sure to point out 12 million animals are killed every four hours in the U.S. and juxtaposing with six million people exterminated in the Holocaust. Hitler ordered his Nazi regime to brutally kill Jews and other victims because of his hatred and racism, disposing of anyone who did not fit in his “perfect” Aryan race. Animals, on the other hand, are killed so that people may eat.

PETA’s outlandish events and advertising are not the only way the organization wastes money. In its 2011 annual report, the non-profit reveals it received $30 million in contributions, over $20 million of which went toward “public outreach and education” and “research, investigations and rescue.”

Part of the “research” PETA has conducted in the past includes studying the treatment of monkeys in the Oregon National Primate Research Center. For four months, a PETA investigator claimed the monkeys were “driven insane by laboratory conditions,” according to peta.org.

In New York City, approximately 1.4 million people rely on food banks. The New York Food Bank spent $1,807,319 in 2010 on its Community Kitchen program, a food banking mission that provides the needy an average of 50,000 meals each month, the organization reports. Based on this statistic, the $30 million in contributions that went toward PETA could easily fund the program and keep New Yorkers full for a decade. PETA's time and money suggest that disinfecting monkey cages are more valuable.

To counter PETA’s goals this Thanksgiving, let’s explain why we celebrate the holiday in the first place. Let’s highlight the pilgrims’ bravery in coming to the New World to escape a system in which they were persecuted to build a better life. Thanksgiving is meant to celebrate our love of family and country, not an opportunity for animal rights groups to persuade us meat eaters are cold-hearted animal abusers. With the right message, we can ensure dinners will be guilt-free and we can keep turkey on the table.


Cortney O'Brien

Cortney O'Brien is a Townhall web editor. Follow her on Twitter @obrienc2.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography