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New PETA Ad Mocks ‘Humane Meat’ In Controversial Religious Sketch

PETA has been upping the aggressiveness of their marketing of late, especially when targeting fast food. The latest PETA ad, however, stirs up a bit of controversy to the group’s hard-nosed stance against eating meat.

The new commercial features a meat industry executive going to confession with a priest, portrayed by actor James Cromwell. After “confessing” that terms like “humane slaughter,” “sustainable,” “free range,” and other ethical meat terms are all a fraud and cheap marketing ploy. The exec then expects to receive forgiveness and penance for tricking millions of meat eaters. Cromwell, however, refuses to assign penance or forgive the man, saying that “we have to draw the line somewhere” before shutting the confessional window in his face.

PETA’s press release about the ad had some strong words against ethical livestock practices, calling humane meat a “myth.”

“Animals on so-called “humane” farms are typically mutilated without painkillers, artificially inseminated, kept in crowded conditions without access to sunlight or fresh air, separated from their offspring, and shipped in the freezing cold or suffocating heat to the very same slaughterhouses used by every other meat producer. There, they’re hung upside down and their throats are cut in full view of one another, often while they’re still conscious and struggling to escape.”

While the sketch and accompanying statement are powerful in delivering their message, there are a few things that PETA gets wrong in the matter.

Firstly, there are actually federal laws that dictate whether farms can make claims such as “free range” on their product. Not all of the claims are governed, like “all-natural,” but several are. Additionally, there are now “humane slaughter” programs in progress at slaughterhouses thanks to people like Temple Grandin, whose work drastically improved the conditions and practices of meat packing facilities nationwide.

PETA’s ad is also likely to draw the ire of many Catholic Christian organizations and factions due to their misappropriation of the sacrament of confession. Priests do not deny absolution or penance to those who admit their sins. While that is done in the commercial for theatrical effect, there are definitely those who will be offended by Cromwell’s priestly portrayal.

The PETA ad was scheduled to run during the Super Bowl, but cost negotiations with NBC have apparently stalled that effort, based on the activist group’s press release.

By Constantine Spyrou

Constantine's life revolves around eating, studying, and talking about food. He's obsessed with eggs, gyros, and the future of food.