Last updated on: 5/24/2011 | Author:

Ingrid E. Newkirk Biography

President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Pro to the question "Should People Become Vegetarian?"

“Let me offer five good reasons to go vegetarian that are worth considering by every kind and just person: First, we share with all animals the ability to feel joy, love, pain, loneliness, and the desire to avoid harm, so let’s relate to who is on our plate.

Second, if we find it horrifying to imagine stepping into a factory farm, separating a mother cow from her calf and slitting the infant’s throat just so that we can experience the fleeting taste of a piece of meat, then we surely find something wrong with paying someone else – via our meat counter purchases – to do it for us.

Third, it is impossible to talk about justice, understanding, and multiculturalism and to object to violence, exploitation, oppression, discrimination, and supremacism without choking if we are still trying to find a way to justify stealing the very lives from other individuals we consider ‘different.’

Fourth, meat is decomposing flesh from a body that was not given up without a struggle, fear, and suffering – unless we are eating roadkill from animals who died instantaneously and never knew what hit them.

Five, it is so easy to switch to vegan living, because today we have cookbooks like Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet; vegan fast food like Taco Bell’s 7-Layer Burrito (hold the dairy); an endless variety of ethnic restaurants (e.g., Italian, Ethiopian, Japanese, Szechuan, Indian); and supermarkets that sell protein-packed and cholesterol-free taste-alikes (e.g., soy sausage, fakin’ ‘bacon,’ vegan ‘cheese’ pizzas, and faux chicken) just in case we ever get a craving for the taste of meat or dairy products – and all of them come without the factory farming, environmental destruction, cruelty, and other ugly, dirty aspects of using animals as food.”

Email to, May 5, 2011

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Co-founder and President, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 1980-present
  • Former Director of Cruelty Investigations, Washington Humane Society
  • Former Poundmaster, Washington, DC
  • Former Chief of Animal Disease Control, Commission on Public Health in Washington, DC
  • Former Deputy Sheriff, Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Former animal shelter worker
  • Helped to create the first-ever spay-and-neuter clinic in Washington, DC
  • Coordinated the first arrest in US history of a laboratory animal experimenter on cruelty charges
  • Helped get the first anti-animal cruelty law in Taiwan
  • Attended various convent boarding schools in India
  • Born June 11, 1949, in Surrey, England
  • District of Columbia’s first female poundmaster
  • In a Nov. 2007 inverview with David Shankbone she voiced her support for Animal Liberation Front (ALF) actions to liberate animals, with the caveat that she does not support actions involving arson
  • Named one of the top businesspeople of the year in Fortune magazine
  • Subject of the award-winning 2007 HBO documentary I Am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk
  • Has appeared on the television shows The Colbert Report, The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Politically Incorrect, Crossfire, Nightline, 60 Minutes, Voice of America, and 20/20, among others