PETA Tries Capitalizing on Cattle Flooding Deaths with Billboards

A billboard from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) doesn't appear to be meeting the animal rights group's goals of pushing people to a vegan diet after being installed in Kansas City, Missouri. ( Courtesy of FOX4 KC )

After more than a month since widespread flooding and blizzards devastated cattle producers in Nebraska and surrounding states, an animal rights group is using the tragedy to push a vegan diet.

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced on April 1 plans to build billboards in cities near where flooding was prevalent this spring. The press releases included an inaccurate death toll count from the storms saying “approximately 1 million calves were killed in the flooding across the Midwest—many of whose dead bodies washed up along the riverbanks.”

The planned billboards include a Holstein dairy cow wearing an activity monitoring collar that appears to be swimming in a pond. The wording on the PETA billboard says “Stop Eating Meat! They Die for Your Cruel and Dirty Habit.” Cities included Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; Fargo, N.D. and Sioux Falls, S.D.

“Every hamburger or steak dinner supports an industry that has repeatedly allowed scores of sensitive animals to suffer and die in natural disasters,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA’s billboard will challenge passersby to take personal responsibility for the painful deaths of these gentle calves by keeping cows and all other animals off their plates.”

The first billboard arrived in Kansas City around mid-April and have come under scrutiny from social media users and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. In a response to a news story by Kansas City television station FOX4, Mike Deering, the orgs executive vice president, shares that farmers and ranchers are at the mercy of the weather and these floods were devastating.

“Farm and ranch families love their animals. It’s their life. When disaster strikes, they put it all on the line to save their livestock,” Deering says. “Neighbors help neighbors. We stand tall and have zero tolerance for the hate and ignorance of PETA.”

People that FOX4 interviewed even said that the advertisement is deceptive.

“It’s out of context,” says Emily Reinhardt, who tells the TV station she rarely eats meat. “A flood happened and [it had nothing to do with] eating meat or the farmers treating cattle [poorly].”

Here is a sampling of the social media posts that have followed after the billboard became news and some of the comments point out the obliviousness of the animal rights group, while others say they aren’t going to give up eating beef:

This isn’t the first time that PETA has used tragedy to help push a vegan agenda. A crash in November 2017 involving beef cattle prompted a similar misuse of a dairy calf in a PETA billboard. After a semi-trailer hauling hogs in Minnesota rolled over in July last year the animal rights group planned a similar billboard. A March train collision with a semi-trailer in California also prompted PETA to put up a billboard telling people to go vegan.

For more on PETA’s billboard tactics during the past few years read the following stories: