By Anisah Shukry
KUALA LUMPUR March 7 — Shoppers in the Bukit Bintang area here were left gawking at the sight of four “mermaids” sprawled across a fishing net, their silver bodies glittering in the hot midday sun.
Decked in “fins” and slathered in silver body paint, the four members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an international animal rights organisation, held signs that read “Try to relate to who’s on your plate — go vegetarian” to encourage the public to not eat fish.
Cars passing through the busy intersection between Jalan Sultan Ismail and Bukit Bintang slowed as drivers craned their necks to witness the unusual spectacle.
At the same time, other PETA members walked around the area distributing pro-vegetarian pamphlets to the crowd of onlookers.
The campaign manager, Claire Fryer, 32, stressed that fish feel pain as other animals do, and that it is the duty of the public to stop eating all animals and adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.
“People can look into the works of God’s teachings and what God actually asked was for us to care for animals and to respect all life. ‘Thou Shall Not Kill,’” Fryer told The Malaysian Insider today, quoting the Bible.
Any form of unnecessary use of animal cruelty, including slaughtering animals by the throat as done by Muslims, is unjustified and could be stopped through vegetarianism, she said.
Fryer added that those whose livelihood depends on the fishing industry should look for “other options to support themselves, without putting fish and animals through needless cruelty.”
Among the crowd of curious spectators was student Fara Bani.
While Fara described herself as a “semi-vegetarian”, she said this campaign was a wake-up call for her to take the plunge and swear off eating fish for good.
“Campaigns such as these help inform people about how eating animals contribute to their continued suffering,” Fara told The Malaysian Insider.
PETA is the world’s largest animal rights organisation, with more than three million members and supporters around the world.
Operating under the principles that animals are not to be eaten, worn, experimented upon or used for entertainment, PETA has held vegetarian events across the world.
PETA is most known for enlisting global celebrities to pose in the nude while promoting the group’s cause.