If you woke up this morning looking for yet another reason to dislike/poke fun of/impugn PETA, today is your lucky day.* The organization that thrives on single issue campaigning and high-profiled tomfoolery has now decided, in its infinite wisdom, to pursue a mission unprecedented in its mooniness: it wants to make Mars vegan. Forget for now that nobody lives on Mars. Minor detail. Instead, take a moment and be fair about this. Hear PETA out. Consider, will you, what a spokesperson has to say:
Colonizing Mars can give us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes on one planet and create a just civilization on another. Ensuring that Mars is a vegan planet (rather than importing animal products from Earth or creating factory farms on our new home) would protect animals from the horrors that they endure in the meat, egg, and dairy industries.**
Okay, after giving this claim due consideration, here is what I judiciously conclude: ludicrous! No, it’s worse than that. PETA is already an organization that tends to evoke heroic levels of mockery, so much so that it may alienate as many potential vegans as it converts—thereby collecting millions of donations to break even. (How many times have you heard: “you’re not a PETA person or anything are you?”) And now we have this Mars gambit. The sad thing about this idea isn’t that it’s absurd. It’s that it’s defeatist and arrogant and counterproductive.
For one, the proposal implicitly concedes that, here on earth, where billions of farm animals suffer daily, all hope is lost. Screw it, says PETA, Earth has been conquered by the omnivores. Let’s take our schtick to the solar system, where it’ll be easy to promote veganism to the intergalactic rubes who trickle in once the Martian gates open. It’s also arrogant—and contradictory—in that, while noting how humans have so effectively trounced the current global ecosystem, it gives a green light to head to Mars a “create” yet another civilization. In essence, invade another landscape.
Plus, you honestly think that the prime movers in Mars colonization (god I can’t believe I just wrote that phrase) are going to be the types of people to be told what to eat? Ha. To the contrary, they’re going to either be rich and powerful colonizer kings who are so accustomed to having their way that they just went to freakin’ Mars for the hell of it. Or, more likely, they’ll be a teeming mass of oppressed, dark-skinned humanity that Earth cast off and shot into space like a spitball, with vague directions scribbled on a napkin and a year’s worth of canned goods. (Kind of like how medieval communities rounded up the mentally infirm [sorry if that's the wrong phrase], put them on a ship, and shoved them to sea–hence, “ship of fools.”)
Whatever the case, this idea is a black hole of bad judgement, bad public relations, and bad news. PETA-ful.
*Actually your lucky day was back in August, when this story first broke, but for some reason it’s back in the spotlight, and on my plate. In any case, just work with me on this. Go with it.
**Can you imagine, like, getting an education, learning to think and write, getting a job, and being asked to write a press release about going to another planet?