NORFOLK, Va. – A new ad campaign by an animal rights group urging college students to replace their milk mustaches with beer foam has angered anti-drunken driving activists and the dairy industry.
Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) plans to unveil its “Got Beer?” campaign on college campuses nationwide this week, in time for those green-beer St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
PETA says the dairy industry is cruel to cows and contends milk isn’t as healthy as beer because of its fat content, a claim scoffed at by nutritionists as oversimplified.
In a letter Friday, Mothers Against Drunk Driving asked PETA to pull the campaign.
“We’re very concerned and appalled with it for the simple fact that underage drinking is the number one drug problem among American youths,” said Teresa Hardt, a spokeswoman for the Irving, Texas-based group.
The campaign also comes at a time of heightened concern about campus binge drinking.
“If PETA’s misguided purpose is to denounce the dairy industry, they certainly aren’t advancing their ball by advocating alcohol consumption by college students,” said David Botkins, spokesman for state Attorney General Mark L. Earley.
PETA said it will proceed with the campaign.
“College students are savvy,” said PETA’s Bruce Friedrich. “Nobody’s going to put beer on their Cheerios or get drunk and drive as a result of our campaign.”
Susan Ruland, a spokeswoman for the dairy industry’s “Got Milk?” and milk mustache campaigns, called PETA’s parody “ridiculous on so many levels. It’s kind of amusing.”
Cows produce more and better milk if they are treated well, so it would not make economic sense for dairy farmers to mistreat the animals, she said.
And David Swain, director of The Wellness Institute at Old Dominion University, said drinking nonfat milk eliminates the drawbacks of milk, adding: “Milk has many valuable nutrients in it that beer does not have.”