Earlier this week, a small group of women stood on a busy street corner in downtown Minneapolis, wearing bikinis made of lettuce and handing out cups of vegan hot cocoa. Calling themselves "sexy lettuce ladies," the women were representing PETA in an effort to urge Minnesotans to make veganism part of their 2014 New Year's resolutions.
Putting aside the issues of PETA's credibility and the fact that these were all conventionally attractive women in very little clothing, I've had a hard time deciding how I feel about this stunt.
The lettuce ladies certainly garnered attention, primarily because they were standing outside in tiny bikinis on a day when the high temperature in Minneapolis was a tropical three degrees. They were featured on nearly all of the Minneapolis-St. Paul news outlets (this City Pages slideshow, for example), and they appear to have received a great deal of attention from passers-by, despite the fact that very few people leave the warmth of the skyways on frigid days like this one.
But did the lettuce ladies actually convince anyone to go vegan? I doubt it.
People aren't going to make such a major life change simply because a pretty woman in a bikini gave them a cup of hot cocoa. They need a reason to change that makes sense for them and where they're at in their lives. They need the tools to make that change, and they need the support to keep it up. To their credit, the lettuce ladies did hand out information on veganism, but how many of those pamphlets do you think ended up in the trash? Quite a few, I'm guessing.
That being said, I don't think the lettuce ladies caused any harm. Our nation is one that consumes more and more animal products every year, so anything that makes people think twice about their meat consumption is a step in the right direction.
So how can we motivate people to make the move toward a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle? It's a hard nut to crack. The benefits of veganism are widely touted, but people are skeptical and unwilling to make the effort. And I don't blame them - becoming a vegan is a huge change, and it's certainly not an easy one. But if we can convince people to make even the smallest shift toward an animal-friendly lifestyle - eating one less serving of meat per week or buying from companies that don't test on animals, for example - the effects could be significant. This is something that I will explore further in a future blog post.
What do you think? Have the lettuce ladies appeared in your town?
*Image courtesy Joey B. Lax-Salinas / JoeyBLS Photography