Volunteers with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals donned revealing lettuce garments Wednesday and passed out vegan sandwiches along Pennsylvania Avenue,encouraging hungry gawkers to quit their meat-eating ways.
“PETA wants to let visitors to D.C. know that,even though they may not be able to avoid the hassles of the government shutdown,they can avoid an artery shutdown by choosing delicious vegan meals,” said Ashley Byrne,35,a PETA campaign specialist from New York who spoke for the Lettuce Ladies.
She encouraged tourists who were turned away from the shuttered monuments and museums to visit the District’s many “vegan-friendly” restaurants,such as Everlasting Life Café,which provided the faux fried chicken sandwiches.
“That will give them something tasty to write home about,” Bryne said.
But while the Lettuce Ladies originally set out to feed the tourists,they ended up passing out most of the sandwiches to government employees on their lunch hour – those who had escaped the shutdown.
“It’s delicious – very good,” Eulonda Lea,49,a federal employee in Washington,said. Lea said she tried veganism in the past,but her perseverance eroded because she’s “not a very good cook.”
The Lettuce Ladies got Lea back on the wagon,though,at least for lunch.
Katie Lopynski,22,a PETA intern from Norfolk,Va.,said it was her first time working as a lettuce lady. Another declined to identify herself.
“You’ve got two beautiful girls dressed in lettuce,I’m sure they’ll get the attention they need for what their doing,” said Jennifer Bonini,44. “And the food is good.”
Jennifer Bonini and her husband,Fabio Bonini,40,who co-own Forever Dancing Ballroom in Falls Church,Va.,said they loved the meatless sandwiches and connected with PETA’s healthy message.
“I believe it is not the healthy thing to eat,” Fabio Bonini said. “Based on the research they say it’s not good for your system,that it has hormones and several things.”
“And as we’re getting older,we don’t digest it as well,” Jennifer Bonini added.
With the health-care debate still raging in Congress,Bryne said people could reduce their health-care costs by switching to a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet – specifically,veganism.
“A vegan diet is a great way to stay healthy,” Bryne said.
PETA’s attention-grabbing methods are controversial,but research does show a link between a vegetarian diet (less restrictive than veganism) and lower death rates. The National Institutes of Health reported in June that vegetarians have a lower rate of death due to cardiovascular disease,diabetes and kidney disorders.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States,with 600,000 deaths per year,200,000 of them preventable,according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That death rate is associated with a diet high in fat and cholesterol,along with unrelated factors such as genetics and exercise.