PETA 'meal' could cause some to gulp

Thursday, July 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The animal-rights advocacy organization People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) often takes extreme routes to build awareness of its pet issues. Its latest: the Unhappy Meal, part of a campaign exhorting McDonald's to improve living conditions for chickens and pigs on its "factory" farms.

The kit is a colorful cardboard box that resembles the Happy Meals package, with a toy replica of Ronald McDonald as butcher and animal figurines whose necks are slashed. The package claims that hens are crammed into cages no bigger than a desk drawer; that some cows may be skinned while alive; and that dirt-lovin' pigs can spend their lives in cement stalls, unable to turn around, and can go crazy from boredom.

The kit urges McDonald's to serve veggie burgers and suggests consumers write anti-cruelty letters to McD's CEO Jack Greenberg.

McDonald's says it is committed to the issue of animal welfare. Although discussions between PETA and McDonald's have stalled, the chain is looking into these issues, says spokesman Walt Riker.

PETA will hand out Unhappy Meals at selected McDonald's this summer in larger cities such as Dallas, and will distribute them to junior high schools in the fall, says spokesman Bruce Friedrich. He acknowledges that the Unhappy Meal is a bit absurd but hopes that it will spark a debate about the way pigs, chickens and cows are raised.

But why stop there? Inspired by PETA's advocacy spirit, here's a quick, light-hearted list of other fast-food reforms we'd like to see:

Stop piercing the heads of the little antenna balls.

Promote Dave Thomas to shift manager. Get him a 10-cent-per-hour raise.

Send "Senor Bueno" to a carpal tunnel syndrome treatment facility.

Introduce grains into the Chihuahua's diet.

Ban the "smothering" of all hash browns.

- Teresa Gubbins