By Tom Purcell
Ah, heck. I wasn’t in Washington, D.C., a week ago and missed the Lettuce Ladies.
You see, July, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, is National Hot Dog Month.
It’s when we pay homage to the 7 billion delicious dogs we’ll eat between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.
But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is none too happy about that.
Every July, PETA sends babes clad in bikinis made from lettuce leaves to Capitol Hill, where they promote vegetarian dogs.
As the bikini babes mesmerize congressional members and staffers, PETA folks chat them up.
According to peta.org, they’re told that “pigs suffer on factory farms and that flesh-based hot dogs contain noses, toes, anuses, and other ‘undesirable’ body parts.”
Sounds like a Harry Potter recipe.
Sounds mighty tasty, too — so long as it’s all ground up, stuffed into a sausage casing, grilled to perfection and washed down with ice-cold beer.
PETA says “meat not only causes life-threatening health conditions and animal suffering, but also greenhouse-gas emissions, water pollution, and land degradation.”
And that “sexy vegetarians are living proof that kicking the meat habit is a great way to stay fit, trim, and energetic!”
That may be true, but another way to stay fit, trim and energetic is to stay a 21-year-old bikini babe.
Still, I have to give PETA credit for its strategy.
In the old days, PETA had a reputation as a nutty organization best known for extreme activities.
Though a spokesperson told me PETA never sponsored spray-painting of fur coats, bombing of animal-testing labs or throwing of tofu pies at public figures, PETA supporters were associated with such acts, and much of America viewed the lot of them as the nuts they were.
They’ve gotten smarter.
Instead of hammering away directly at their agenda — to stop all meat eating, slaughter and animal research — they’ve shifted their focus to something nearer and dearer to our hearts: impotence.
PETA says eating meat clogs arteries, which weakens all organs. It created billboards displaying a bikini babe holding a plate of sausages and saying, “I threw a party but the cattlemen couldn’t …”
In any event, though I missed the Lettuce Ladies this year, their annual outing seems to be losing its oomph.
This year’s Lettuce Ladies included “Sexiest Vegetarian Next Door” winner Kate Veltkamp and runner-up Udara Perera — attractive lasses, judging by their photos.
But the Lettuce Ladies I’d met included two former Playboy models, who generated lots more press.
I was smitten by the curvaceous Julie McCullough, a former Playmate of the Year, who said she’d do anything — anything — to discourage eating meat, including running naked down the street to raise funds for the effort.
A UPI photographer next to me nearly fainted — a portly Reuters reporter began to shake — but I managed to keep my composure.
I asked her if she took credit cards.
Perhaps it’s a sign of our troubled times that fewer folks seem interested in PETA and its Lettuce Ladies this year — media coverage was modest.
I suppose people worried about making mortgage payments embrace more commonsense thinking, such as this:
If God didn’t want us to eat ground-up pig toes in sausage casings, why’d he make them taste so good?
©2011 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, a freelance writer is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For more info contact Cari Dawson Bartley at 800 696 7561 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Email Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.