PETA's worst campaign ever says milk causes autism




You sound so good in theory. Ethical treatment of animals? That’s a great concept to work toward. Surely an organization with that as their stated goal ought to be a well respected, diplomatic, reasonable group of people, right?

But somewhere along the way, you went off the rails. Perhaps you attracted bad influences somehow, and picked up their terrible habits. Whatever happened, despite any good intentions you once had, you’re now known simply for the cloud of insanity that wafts eternally around you. Your championed goal is laudible, but your methods are inexcusible.

And what’s worse - they’re counter productive. Is it any wonder nothing changes when the biggest, most famous, most firmly established, pro-ecological animal rights group in the world - the prestigiously named People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - is seen globally as a giant laughingstock? When you try to promote change by hurling vitriolic fury and abuse? When you knowingly spread lies and misinformation to scare and confuse people? When in your warped little world, the ends somehow justify any means you please?

You could have been so great. You could have made an actual difference. But you trampled your chance to pieces, threw it all away, and then lit the trash heap on fire so no one else could salvage the broken remains.

The single worst thing ever to happen to the animal rights movement was PETA.


I think PETA is amazingly tiresome, and I’m a vegan. Mostly I just want them to shut the hell up.



I completely understand your anger. At the same time I can’t help but love this in a small way.

Yes, it’s totally absurd and non-scientific. The “link” is a few anecdotal quotes from people who have no idea what they are talking about…

… exactly like the anti-vaxxer propaganda.


I hated the ad, but it’s also from 2008, which made me wonder what motivated Forbes to pick it up now. Sounds horrible and fishy.

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You mean sea kitteny.


Re-read the article - while the ad was originally displayed and then removed in 2008, PETA just put it back up this week.


Nah, I have faith that PETA can sink even lower if they’d just try a little bit harder…

When you have to depend on nude/body-painted models to regularly deliver your message, you’ve clearly lost the debate.


Lately I’ve been semi-seriously wondering if PETA hasn’t been taken over by people ideologically opposed to their mission in order to discredit the whole animal rights movement, as they’ve been so successful at doing just that, in so many ways, that it seems impossible to explain through incompetence alone. I keep reading about instances where their putative allies beg PETA not to do something, because it’ll set back their cause, and PETA do it anyways, and then PETA have all these laughable/rage-inducing campaigns like this one that make it impossible to treat them seriously.


Shuck, I know very few things for certain in this world, but I can tell you this with absolute conviction.

If you bet against the human race’s potential for stupidity, you’re going to lose.


You’re going too far here. First, it’s more than “a few anecdotal quotes.” They lead off with two scientific studies that suggest that milk and gluten may exacerbate the symptoms of autism. The studies are a little old, and the sample sizes aren’t huge. But they do have reason for claiming there’s a link.

And it’s different from the anti-vaxxer propaganda in another way: if you believe the propaganda, the health benefits may actually outweigh the health risks. Milk isn’t actually all that good for you. They sell it as a builder of strong bones, but the calcium is far outweighed by its high protein content. Protein is amino acid, and the body responds to acid by leaching calcium out of the bones.

That’s not to say that the campaign isn’t awful. They’re trying to turn people off milk by taking advantage of people’s fear and disgust toward an already marginalized group. Using autism as a bogeyman is inevitably going to make people more afraid of autistic people. And the billboard amounts to fearmongering. Most people who read it will guess that it means “dairy causes autism,” which the studies don’t even remotely suggest causation. If taken at their word, the studies only suggest that dairy (and/or gluten) may exacerbate symptoms). They’re being deeply misleading.

But I don’t think a comparison to anti-vaxxers is called for.

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I’m not a fan of cruelty to animals, but every time I see a PETA ad it makes me want to kick a kitten just on general principle.


I worked with children and adults with autism and other disabilities. Some people have had a reduction in symptoms when they change their diets. I think it’s perfectly fine that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals put out the information that cutting out dairy products may help reduce symptoms. I mean, obviously PETA doesn’t agree with the way cows on dairy farms are repeatedly impregnated and have their babies taken away from them within days so people can take the milk. So of course that is PETA’s mission, to encourage more people not to drink it. But if the information helps people suffering from autism, I don’t see how that is a bad thing.

Fixed that for you.


You are kidding, right? “X causes autism!” is the anti-vaxxer campaign.

When I first saw the billboard, I thought that PETA was simply mocking them. Then, after reading the linked blog post (with the anecdotes) it became obvious that they are copying the campaign to target the same people who believe that “X causes autism” even when the science doesn’t agree.


The problem is, there’s only a chance that PETA is correct, and consequently only a chance that they could help people suffering from autism.

Yet the way they are framing autism as a fear tactic is absolutely, undeniably hurting people who suffer from autism, by stigmatizing their condition and breeding social intolerance.


Ah, PETA. They’re like the Scientology of animal protection.


They’re just as bad as the anti-vaxxers, and here’s why: Just like the anti-vaxxers have caused real, negative medical outcomes for their children (see “measles”), the Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) supporters are also backing something with no real scientific support, and there’s already some evidence that children following the diet show a loss in bone density.

In fact, 14 compared studies showed no benefit from the diet. A 2003 study, “found children displayed higher deficiencies in certain amino acids compared with children with ASD who were not on restricted diets”.

(Source: A Brief Guide to Autism Treatments By Elisabeth Hollister Sandberg, Becky L. Spritz)

Also, a 2008 study found a specific increase in bone loss for boys on the GFCF diet. Note that children with ASD and autism are already at risk for poor bone development because of a variety of factors including medication, food choice, and lack of exercise. The study examined 75 boys, 9 were on the diet.

“The boys in the study who were on a casein-free diet had the thinnest bones. In fact, the 9 boys who were on a casein-free diet had bones that were 20 percent thinner than normal for children their age. Boys who were not on a casein-free diet showed a 10 percent decrease in bone thickness when compared to boys with normal bone development.”

Here’s one more link to another review of GFCF studies (from 1999 to 2012) that also comes to the conclusion that the diet has little or no benefit, and should only be used if children test positive for specific food allergies.;35/1/3


I’m going sea-kittening this weekend.


You won my internet today!