Friday, 13 May 2011

PETA's 'nasty vegan chocolates'

Following the death of Osama Bin Laden, PETA sent vegan chocolates to locally-based Navy SEALs.  This article criticises them for 'seeking publicity', and the comments indicate that many people find this kind of behaviour heinous.  Really, how dare you send that "nasty vegan chocolate" to Navy SEALs?  How awful!

Image owned by PETA.

Seriously, people.  Firstly, yeah, PETA got some publicity out of this.  Maybe they intended to.  I will say though, that PETA's primary concern does not seem to be what people think of them.  Furthermore, even if this is purely a publicity stunt, it doesn't mean that it's not a nice thing to do.  For all you know, there's a vegan or lactose intolerant SEAL out there who is very grateful for the free chocolate.  Love My Rifle More Than You, for instance, describes a female, vegetarian US soldier who often had trouble finding foods she could eat.  Or, maybe there's someone out there who's simply open-minded enough to appreciate the opportunity to try it. 

This criticism also seems really hypocritical; name me one single omnivorous company who has never, ever, done anything for the publicity (if you've heard of them; how can you, with no publicity?).  Wanting publicity for your company is not a horrible thing to do; it's just good business.

The chocolates, which feature Bin Laden's face, were created in 2009, when US Troops in Afghanistan suffered a chocolate shortage.  There are at least two people in the comments who think that 'created in 2009' means that only one batch of chocolates were made then, and these were the ones sent to the troops.  Really?  Are you that desperate to criticise PETA?  They're not perfect, but reaching that hard just discredits you, as it makes you look like an idiot.  PETA also offers the chocolates for sale on their website, with free shipping to US military addresses.

I should also mention here that chocolate is naturally vegan.  Cocoa beans do not come from animals.  Dark chocolate can be made with no milk whatsoever, and I bet most people have had some 'nasty vegan chocolate' without ever noticing a difference.  Secondly; these people are American.  The 'chocolate' they know is made by Hershey, and tastes like tile grout.  I'd ask forgiveness for being snobby, but I'm not sorry.  Unless Hershey has drastically improved their chocolate in the past four years or so (which is definitely possible, to be fair, it is a long time), then it still has that awful after-taste.  Even Cadbury's products made in the US taste disgusting, since they're manufactured in Hershey factories.  You don't get to pass judgement on any kind of chocolate if you've only had Hersheys.  End of discussion.

(That paragraph is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but, really, Hershey's chocolate, is in my opinion, gross.  Don't pounce on me).

All of that being said, I'm not totally behind the fact that the chocolates feature Osama's face.  He caused the death of thousands of people, and I don't think he has the right to claim our sympathy (he can get in line behind their families).  And, true, PETA is a charity which fights for animal rights, and some people see a contradiction in the celebration of violence and a human death there.  (I don't; there's a difference between hunting and farming, whether it applies to humans or animals.  I don't know what the right thing to do was or is, but I can see why it's less complicated to just shoot him - it's not the same as keeping him captive, forcefully impregnating him, removing the children, and shooting him at  young age (dairy cows).  Nor is it the same as slicing body parts off him, and keeping him in a small cage, on a floor of his own filth (that would be chickens).)

I'm going off on a tangent.

My point is, I do find it in bad taste for the chocolate to feature Osama's image.  I don't often see eye-to-eye with the admin of etiquette hell, but I do agree with her summation of the situation, that this is a time to treasure life and freedom, not celebrate death.

I think it would have been more of a positive symbol to have something which celebrated the SEALs achievements, not just the fact that they killed a man.  Maybe an image of the Statue of Liberty, or something, something positive and life-affirming, not a celebration of death, hypocritical or not.

While I'm not convinced that the death of Osama Bin Laden is the death of terrorism (I don't think this is one of those occasions where you cut off the head and the body dies), it is, perhaps, still a time to celebrate an achievement.

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