- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2000

Animal rights activists are urging college students this week to guzzle beer to save cows from the "cruelty" of being milked.
But the "drink beer, not milk" effort by the Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is losing its fizz and friends.
Officials with Mothers Against Drunk Driving have asked PETA to pull the campaign for fear it will encourage underage drinking.
The group's "Got Beer?" nationwide campus campaign was timed to take advantage of the ubiquitous green-beer St. Patrick's Day celebrations this Friday.
"We're very concerned and appalled with it for the simple fact that underage drinking is the No. 1 drug problem among American youths," said Teresa Hardt, a spokeswoman for MADD, whose mission includes the prevention of underage drinking.
But local animal rights activists such as Alexandria, Va.-based Actions for Animals Network said PETA's campaign was devised simply to catch people's attention and get them to think about milk.
"Milk is not a health food, and it is the reason for tremendous animal suffering," said Mary Zoeter, president of Actions for Animals Network.
"But I don't think groups like MADD need to worry about college students being corrupted by this campaign. I don't think PETA is out to do that. It simply wants to get people's attention. And it already has," Mrs. Zoeter said.
It's not the first time PETA has come up with a controversial campaign to promote animal rights. Several months ago, the group hung posters in bus shelters that said "Fur Bites," and featured a naked black man, his face contorted in rage, imprisoned in a zoolike cage. The man is German model and actor Mola, who is an animal rights supporter.
"We do campaigns that grab people's attention," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's vegetarian campaign coordinator. "Like the 'Fur Bites' posters, they're catchy and attractive. You notice them, and that's what we're trying to do."
The "Drink Beer" campaign comes at a time when increased attention is being focused on binge drinking on campuses, where the majority of students are under the legal drinking age of 21.
"If PETA's misguided purpose is to denounce the dairy industry, they certainly aren't advancing the ball by advocating alcohol consumption by college students," said David Botkins, spokesman for State Attorney General Mark L. Earley, who led a statewide Task Force on Drinking by College Students in 1998, one year after five undergraduates at Virginia schools died after ingesting too much alcohol.
Mr. Earley also toured colleges to encourage personal responsibility and solutions about the problem of drinking on campus.
"They'll be lucky if they don't get sued for plagiarizing the 'Got Milk' slogan," Mr. Botkins said.
Mr. Friedrich said PETA will proceed with the campaign and that it does not promote underage or drunken driving.
"College students are savvy," Mr. Friedrich said. "Nobody's going to put beer on their Cheerios or get drunk and drive as a result of our campaign."
PETA is using beer in its anti-milk campaign as a way to get attention, he said, but the campaign makes it clear that juice, water, soda and soy milk are preferable alternatives to beer.
PETA contends that milk does not do a body good because it is full of fat and cholesterol, while beer contains neither. PETA's main beef, however, is with what it says is the cruel treatment of cows and their calves on factory farms that a cow is not necessarily fulfilled by filling a milk pail.
"Dairy cows are warehoused like so many inanimate objects, kept pregnant by artificial insemination to keep milk production high and slaughtered when they are spent after three or four years," Mr. Friedrich said.
Female calves face the same fate, while male calves are slaughtered for veal, he said.
"That's why there is a hunk of veal in every glass of milk," Mr. Friedrich said. "If you drink milk, you are supporting a product that is horrible for human health, catastrophic for the environment and a living nightmare for the animals involved."
Farmers, however, are skeptical of the argument. What would be a nightmare is if the cow isn't milked at all, said Joe Plesniak, a farmer in Prospect, Pa.
A former dairy farmer, Mr. Plesniak said a cow with an udder full of milk starts to bawl and rocks from side to side if she is not milked.
"To think milking a cow is cruel is ridiculous," Mr. Plesniak said. "The cow was made to produce milk and to be milked. It's a relief for the cow to be milked. It's cruel if you don't milk the cow. Then it suffers."

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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