December 16, 1995
Web posted at: 5:50 a.m. EST
From Correspondent Anne McDermott
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- When vegetarians and meat-eaters get together, the fur can really fly. Now there's controversy over a pro-vegetarian group that is trying to get into schools to win over young converts to their cause. But their message may be going over children's heads.
Meet Chris P. Carrot. He's no ordinary carrot; in fact, he's one carrot you could call a real hot potato. Chris P. is getting a juicy rise out of meat eaters and advocates because he's the mascot of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. His main message to kids: "Eat your veggies, not your (animal) friends."
The beef industry isn't smiling at the 5-foot orange mascot. They don't consider their cattle as friends so much as they consider them dinner, and they think meat is part of a healthy diet.
PETA, on the other hand, distributes pamphlets that say: "Hamburgers are really cows who have been separated from their families and killed." But it's not clear if the message is getting through.
In any case, Chris P. isn't popular with the principal at one Beverly Hills elementary school who doesn't want anti- or pro-meat forces congregating on his campus. "If you'd like to call the police and have them come talk to us, that's fine," Chris P.'s escort and fellow PETA member told him.
And that's just what he did. "I'm not gonna play games with you people, you don't bother me at all, but when they call, I gotta do my job," an officer told the carrot and his entourage.
So they moved, but another officer grew concerned about traffic jams resulting from drivers jolted by the sight of the gargantuan, smiling vegetable.
"So what you're trying to do, possibly, is to get people to eat the right food but at the same time, get run over by an automobile," the officer said.
Don't worry, Chris P. was not hauled away. Where would they put him anyway? In a cuisinart?
Chris P. then headed to another school, this one was located in Watts, where the children loved him. Boy, did they love him. They banged on his head, pulled at his bushy green stalk, and batted him in the sides.
And they didn't seem to get his message. Asked what his favorite food is, a boy replied, "Hamburgers." Another: "Chicken." A third said he liked vegetables, but when asked which kind, replied, "Chicken."
The carrot meisters say that's got to change. A PETA members says that feeding kids meat is child abuse. Not everyone can stomach that. "You are bound to set up conflict between the child and their meat-eating parent. If you simply go to the child, if gives them these emotionally charged messages," said dietitian Mary Donkersloot. (102K AIFF sound or 102K WAV sound)
After a tiring day, Chris P. packed it in and headed home, perhaps to reflect on a day where cows are pets and he is the main course.
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