Peta pushes vegetarianism after US mad cow discovery

NEW YORK - A chicken with an M16 assault rifle is the face of a new advertising campaign by animal rights group Peta, which warns consumers that 'If the beef doesn't kill you, I will', following the discovery of mad dow disease in the US.

The ads, appearing in print and on billboards, go on to explain that chicken could contain salmonella and that women who eat meat are more likely to get breast cancer than those who do not.

The ads direct people to visit GoVeg.com, which has more information about turning vegan.

Peta has also started delivering emergency vegetarian starter kits to shoppers and diners at grocery stores and restaurants across the US. Members of the charity, which is notorious for its over-the-top marketing, will carry signs reading "It's Mad to Eat Meat -- Go Vegetarian".

In a statement, Ravi Chand, vegan outreach coordinator at Peta, said: "If you eat meat, you already have to worry about salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter, heart disease, strokes, high-blood pressure and cancer, as well as your weight."

He added: "Now you can add mad cow, chicken or pig disease to the list. The best way to ensure that you and your family won't get sick is to go vegetarian."

The organisation never knowingly uses a light touch when heavy-handed tactics will suffice. It has mastered the art of controversy by linking Thanksgiving turkeys with terrorism and the slaughter of cattle with the Holocaust.

Nonetheless, it retains a large base of celebrity supporters including the famous vegan musician Moby, actress Pamela Anderson, who has posed in a lettuce bikini for the charity, and singer Sophie Ellis Bextor, who has appeared in an anti-fur ad.

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