PETA’s new tv spot, “BWVAKTBOOM,” which stands for “Boyfriend Went Vegan And Knocked The Bottom Out Of Me” is an interesting take on advocacy. The Hollywood Reporter used the line “PETA Mines Humor From Domestic Abuse In New Ad” which is what many of the comments I’ve seen comment on: a girl, clearly injured, but returning to have sex with her boyfriend. Surprisingly many of the female vegans I’ve talked to found the ad quite funny, some even saying “that’s totally true! you do get more stamina.” And PETA itself claims the ad is, of course, tongue-in-cheek, playfully ribbing on the fact that the “vegan sex” might be so good and so wild, that you’ll get hurt.
My favorite response is from the Guardian’s Arwa Mahdawi, who is not fond of this ad, or any of PETA’s sexually explicit ones. She writes:
There is also the inevitable argument that this article is itself proof of the efficacy of Peta’s tactics. That no publicity is bad publicity and that, in writing this, I have helped the violently vegan boyfriend land more (internet) hits. But even if I’ve been a pawn in Peta’s PR strategy, it should be stressed that raising a video’s views does not equate to changing people’s views. If Peta were simply after notoriety then, yes, job done. However, any meaningful measure of effectiveness for this campaign depends on people being convinced of the benefits of an animal-free diet and binning the bacon in favour of the Viagra-like qualities of bulgur wheat. Call me cynical, but it seems a long shot.
I don’t think that’s a long shot a all. Her article, along with countless others, gives PETA all the exposure it needs. The ad is shared, ridiculed, and even found entertaining by some. But the people who will really be affected probably won’t comment at all. They’ll have that seed planted – maybe they used to be vegetarian, maybe they know someone who’s vegan – and will slowly start to investigate a plant-based diet. We can only hope they look in the right places and don’t give up (American society has a lot of anti-vegan pressure, for sure), which is exactly why groups like PETA exist: they hook the curious with crazy ads like this, but have a ton of resources for how to actually go vegan.
Are there other, more subtle, or even compassionate ways to promote veganism? Of course. And groups like Vegan Outreach and Compassion Over Killing employ those, as does a group I belong to, the Louisville Vegetarian Club. We simply have delicious potlucks, people show up, and realize that eating vegan food is awesome! I honestly think there’s room for both in this world, and I’m happy to stand with all sides as our end goal is the elimination of exploiting animals. Whether it be through food, provocative ads, or ethical reasoning, the end result is challenging our long-held beliefs and getting people to think.
The controversial new ad is below, which already has over 1.5 million views:
Photo: The Inspiration Room (who also lists the credits of the video)