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Ingrid Newkirk is an animal rights activist, an author, and the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She is best known for the animal rights awareness[…]

The sky may be falling, but there is no reason not to change your consumption habits to help the environment, Newkirk says.

Question: What is reasonable to ask of people?


Ingrid Newkirk: Well the sky may be falling, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do some things that are within your control. And to me the important thing is that you take a step, any step. Don’t just stop at a step. Think, “What else can I do now?” and keep going. Walk the walk of caring about yourself, the earth, the animals, the whole nine yards. But if you know; the first thing is to become informed. Because if you don’t really know what’s going on, and people say, “Oh don’t show me. I like my steak.” But really you owe it to yourself as an intelligent being to find out what are the facts, and then you can make an informed decision.

And I believe that unless you’re Attila the Hun, that when somebody shows you facts, for example, about what happens to animals in the circus, you may decide you’re going to go to Cirque de Soleil where all the performers are paid, they get to go home at the end of the day and be with their family. You may make that informed decision. You may do nothing else that helps animals. Or you might decide then to open up your eyes, go to for example, read “Making Kind Choices”. Go to, learn something. Look at a film, get a fact, and then think to yourself, “Hmm, there is something else I can do,” and you might want to do it.

So it’s in every pursuit you have an opportunity to contribute to the sum total of happiness, or at least to reduce the sum total of misery. So no one is the Buddha. No one is Gandhi. And I’m not even sure Gandhi was Gandhi. The stories come out about what Gandhi did now and then. But we can all just as fallible human beings start to think about what we’re doing and make choices that we may end up actually liking better.


Recorded on: November 12, 2007