PETA gets a lot of flack from vegans for handing out awards to people and organizations who haven't done much to help animals.
OK, so someone stopped wearing fur, that's great, but they're still wearing leather. Or a cosmetic company that stopped testing on animals but still contains animal ingredients. Or the restaurant that stops selling foie gras and veal but leaves chicken and steak on the menu. Or how about the fast food chain that adds one vegetarian item to the menu... big whoop!
The baby steps deserve recognition, but an award? Really?
The teeny tiny bits of progress here and there just don't seem worth acknowledging. In truth, I'm insulted whenever a nonvegan brags to me about how they only eat meat six days a week. Sure, meat-reduction is great, but don't tell me all about it, tell your friends who eat meat everyday! They're the ones who need to hear it.
In the past I've tried to ignore all of PETA's awards because of this. Even though I can rationally see these baby steps as progress, emotionally they bring me down. They remind me of how we're only moving inches at a time when we've got miles to go.
But yesterday I read something that helped me understand PETA's awards. It was Nobel Peace Prize myth-busting:
Myth: The prize is awarded to recognize efforts for peace, human rights and democracy only after they have proven successful.
More often, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see the effort through, sometimes at critical moments.
So, the Nobel Peace Prize, like many of PETA's awards, are not simply for an accomplishment; they're praise to encourage more, similar accomplishments. That puts them in a whole new light, something that's a lot easier to stomach.
(Crossposted at Vegan Soapbox.)