WASHINGTON – Washingtonians on Capitol Hill consumed a new kind of pork Thursday.
Vegan hot dogs and lettuce-leaf bikinis took over part of Capitol Hill for PETA’s annual protest against national hot dog day, its meat-based rival. PETA staff and bikini-clad volunteers handed out free vegan hot dogs to passersby, offering an animal-free way to celebrate the unofficial holiday.
“This is a delicious way to show you can pig out without killing a pig,” Stephanie Jaffa, senior policy associate at PETA, said. “You get veggie dogs and veggie eating. Obviously, it’s healthier for you.”
At times, the line for vegan dogs stretched to about 20 people. While many stopped for vegan dogs, some just wanted a picture with the bikini-clad volunteers.
Lindsay Rajt, associate director of campaigns for PETA, said vegan dogs have more protein and less fat than traditional frankfurters. One other drawback to the North American Meat Institute’s Hot Dog Lunch, Rajt said, is that there are no bikinis.
The origins of national hot dog day are a bit obscure. According to Janet Riley, President of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (operated by the American Meat Institute), national hot dog day got its start through the council. Riley said the tradition probably began sometime in the 1950s.
In 2014, the country spent more than $2.5 billion on hot dogs in supermarkets alone, according to the council. And according to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who considered themselves vegetarian declined from 1999 to 2012 from 6 percent to 5 percent. Two percent of Americans labeled themselves vegan in 2012.
“Why participate in the killing of the animals?” Jaffa said, adding that vegan hot dogs are healthier for both animals and people. “It’s a win-win.”
Reach Matthew J. Connor at [email protected] or 202-408-1494. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Download photos: PETA-vegan.zip