Usually, the only time you hear about the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals around here is when they get our attention by having folks like Jamie Bamber and Tricia Helfer take their clothes off. But this time, PETA got our attention with a promotional stunt we admit up front ... we're not quite sure we understand.
Baltimore's Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum is in danger of closing due to budget cuts, and the activist organization has made an offer to pick up the slack—IF the museum would "prominently display an ad at the Poe House featuring a man clutching his chest and reading, 'The Tell-Tale Heart of a Meat-Eater. Don't Be Haunted by Bad Health: Go Vegan. PETA.'"
Here's the offer PETA made to museum curator Jeff Jerome:
Dear Mr. Jerome,
I am writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 2 million members and supporters-including thousands in Maryland-with an offer to help a little bit with the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum's struggling finances. PETA would like to pay to prominently display an ad at the Poe House featuring a man clutching his chest and reading, "The Tell-Tale Heart of a Meat-Eater. Don't Be Haunted by Bad Health: Go Vegan. PETA." Our ad would remind museum visitors of the benefit of living healthy, humane lives while learning about Poe's timeless prose.
Few behaviors take such a severe toll on one's heart as consuming meat, eggs, and dairy products. The cholesterol and saturated fat in animal products can lead to elevated cholesterol levels and heart attacks. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, one of the world's most respected nutrition experts, has made patients who were suffering from clogged arteries virtually "heart-attack proof" by putting them on healthy, plant-centered diets. William Castelli, M.D., former director of the Framingham Heart Study, the longest-running clinical study in medical history, says of the heart disease epidemic, "If Americans adopted a vegetarian diet, the whole thing would disappear." In addition, going vegan reduces people's risk of cancer, diabetes, and other major diseases.
The cruelty involved in producing meat, dairy products, and eggs could also trigger a sense of guilt like that described so vividly by Poe in "The Tell-Tale Heart." In today's industrialized meat and dairy industries, chickens and turkeys have their throats cut while they're still conscious, piglets have their tails and testicles cut off without being given any painkillers, fish are suffocated or cut open while they're still alive on the decks of fishing boats, and calves are taken away from their mothers within hours of birth.
PETA's pro-vegan ad could help save the lives of literature lovers and animals, while the revenue would help preserve this great writer's legacy. I look forward to your response.
We can SORT of see the connection between Poe's classic short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" and the reported effects of a diet too high in red meat ... well, actually, no, we can't, not really. It's quite a stretch. But if it helps keep open a museum dedicated to the author of "The Raven" and "The Fall of the House of Usher," we say, take the money!
But what do you think?