In an unforeseen turn of events, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has taken aim at LEGO® Barn and Farm Animals (60346). It is one of the new summer 2022 sets. In a letter written to LEGO® Group CEO, Niels Christiansen, the activist group urges rebranding the set into a “sanctuary” as opposed to a “farm”. Interestingly enough, the set is not called a farm. The set is a barn with farm animals. “Farm animal” is an accurate descriptor in this case. In real life, these animals are the result of artificial trait selection by mankind. They do not represent naturally occurring species. It is also a human term that the animals themselves care nothing about. Only the human members of PETA seem offended by it.
Through a run-on sentence in their letter, PETA states that “animal farming is a bloody, cruel business, which is also a major cause of the climate catastrophe, and in 2022, no firm should be promoting it, especially to children”. In an equally long-winded sentence, they go on to push their vegan agenda by claiming “the UN has stated a global shift to plant-based eating is essential if we are to mitigate the worst effects of the climate catastrophe, promoting farming animals to children is dangerously irresponsible”. I find the concept of using the climate change argument for rebranding a set on the verge of release misguided. What is the carbon footprint of rebranding all those packages that have already shipped?
PETA writes really long sentences to scold the LEGO® Group.
This is one of the reasons I have never been able to back PETA. They present valid arguments, but in an overly sensationalist way. Their holier-than-thou approach to veganism serves not to educate the masses. It makes people feel attacked for their views and practices. For such an apparently “woke” organization that throws around terms like “speciesism”, they certainly know how to push away and alienate potential supporters. They also twist the truth in an attempt to herd people to their cause. For example, this letter to the LEGO® Group.
“The UN has stated a global shift to plant-based eating is essential…” makes it sound like the United Nations are trying to turn the world vegan. As much as PETA would love to hear this, it is not what the UN actually published. The statement refers to the special report on climate change and land produced by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The IPCC is a branch of the UN that assesses the science of climate change. In their report, the IPCC recommends reducing meat consumption as a way to mitigate climate change. In fact, Hans-Otto Pörtner from the IPCC is on record saying: “We don’t want to tell people what to eat”. There is no doubt that eating less meat would have a positive impact on the environment. However, twisting the facts to con people into backing your worldview is not the way to go about it.
PETA’s attack shows a clear lack of imagination and missed the opportunity to change the world through play.
As for the LEGO® set, PETA argues rebranding the set “would help children recognise that animals are sentient beings to be cared for, who feel joy, pain, love, and grief, not edible commodities to be used and abused”. A noble sentiment in another overly long sentence. However, who says children playing with this set do not already recognize the animals in that way? PETA shows a clear lack of imagination in their attack on a simple children’s toy. I do not know many children who will imagine their LEGO® farm animals being herded off to the slaughterhouse. While you can argue (and PETA does) that this barn scenario perpetuates the status quo in food production, you can also argue that it offers the opportunity to change long established norms through play.
The world faces so many problems today. An organization like PETA should pick their battles better and get with the times. They missed an opportunity to focus on imagination and changing future perspectives through play. As PETA takes aim at LEGO®, they fell back on their usual modus operandi of scolding and shaming people. Instead of attacking others with your views, include them in creative, realistic solutions through positive and inclusive interactions.
Until next time,
p.s. In case you were wondering, PETA’s letter fails to mention the Farmer’s Market Van and Grocery Store. Both sets also come in the summer 2022 series. Neither set depicts selling meat as food…
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