PETA created a mini-campaign called “Stop Anti-Animal Language” that focused on how our word choices affect how we see and think of things. I’m not a big fan of PETA because I feel that they contradict themselves in many ways including the euthanization of animals from underprivileged homes instead of helping them find happy homes. ( I’ll include related links at the end of this post.)
Although I don’t agree with PETA’s tactics on other topics, I understood what the organization meant when they created this campaign and have even made the point myself prior to their campaign: Words do matter. Whether you’re talking about race, gender, species, or even food, the way you refer to something or someone affects the way you view that something or someone.
For example, in many cultures cow meat is referred to as beef and pig meat is referred to as pork. Many people would probably be disgusted if you refer to the meat by the animal type. In fact, there are studies showing that people tend to choose meatless options depending on the way meat is referred to and the presentation of the meat. For example, 2016 study by The University of Oslo revealed that participants were less inclined to eat pork that was referred to as pig and also less inclined to eat animal flesh if the head was still attached. Words and presentation matter.
Aside from the way we refer to animals that are typically consumed, we can look at the idioms we use that include negative language towards animals. Examples are “kill two birds with one stone” or “take the bull by the horns.” This language objectifies animals and can lead the user of this language to think little of the subject.
PETA suggested alternative language to traditional idioms. Although some of the suggestions were a bit far fetched, I agree nonetheless.
I posted a video of my initial reaction and thoughts of the campaign over on my YouTube channel. I’d love for you to watch it and share your opinions on the matter.
University of Oslo Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27405101
Example of PETA contradicting themselves:
Killing Animals: PETA’s Open ‘Secret’: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/… PETA wants to change ‘anti-animal’ sayings, but the Internet thinks they’re feeding a fed horse: https://www.washingtonpost.com/scienc…