PETA Once Again Claims Beer Is Healthier Than Milk

PETA is back at it, making the claim that beer is healthier than milk, this time in Madison, Wisconsin — the heart of “America’s Dairyland.”

According to a report from WISC-TV, a PETA-sponsored billboard has appeared at the Hilldale Mall, suggesting, “It’s official: beer is better for you than milk.”

The billboard is located less than a mile from the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus — a placement that many are calling intention, as UW-Madison is America’s top party school and likely to be receptive to the message that beer is good for them and that they should drink more of it.

PETA spokesperson Daniel Carron said that targeting college-aged students is especially important for them.

“It’s our responsibility to teach the new generation about the dairy industry. PETA’s position is, we’re in the role of showing this new generation what’s going on behind the scenes in the dairy industry, how that milk comes to get into a glass and all the cruelty that’s associated with it.”

This is hardly the first time that PETA has run this campaign. The “Got Beer?” campaign has been going since at least 2000. It’s sparked controversy every time, drawing backlash from several groups, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who are understandably upset. According to the Associated Press, PETA typically pulls the campaign shortly after it gets started — they did so in 2000, under pressure from MADD, and again in 2002, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

MADD has been consistently unamused by PETA's recurring "drink more beer" message.
MADD has been consistently unamused by PETA's recurring "drink more beer" message. [Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]

But the “Got Beer?” ad keeps popping up like a bad penny. This time around, PETA has added some rather interesting claims, which seem to have little to do with animal cruelty.

“It’s official: beer is better for you than milk. Studies show that beer can strengthen bones and extend life, while milk is linked to obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Drink responsibly, avoid milk. Seriously.”

The bottom of the ad cites some interesting sources, although it fails to point to any specific source or study.

“According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and the American Journal of Epidemiology.”

On their own website, PETA claims that the point of the “Got Beer?” campaign is not to encourage or promote beer drinking, and that they stress “that PETA recommends juices, soy milk, and mineral water—even soda—over milk OR beer.” So why feature beer so prominently, then?

“Had we used soda instead of beer, there would have been no media interest in the campaign, of course. PETA urges everyone, beer-drinkers included, to drink responsibly. Where milk is concerned, there’s no such thing!”

Interestingly enough, PETA has not only been severely chastised over the “Got Beer?” campaign in the past, they’ve actually been threatened with legal action. As PETA puts it on their own website, “apparently some functionary over at the California Milk Processors Board got his panties all in a bunch,” accusing them of infringing on the “Got Milk?” trademark after PETA’s related “Got Pus?” campaign.

"Got Milk?," one of the most recognized brands in advertising history, turns 23 this year.
"Got Milk?," one of the most recognized brands in advertising history, turns 23 this year. [Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Got Milk]

When the campaign was pulled in 2000, PETA made a $500 donation to MADD as a supposed goodwill gesture, stating that they had stopped the campaign out of respect for MADD’s position.

But that hasn’t stopped them from resurrecting it every few years, drawing fresh attention — and criticism — to the group.

Meanwhile, it has to be noted that there are continuing concerns over the health benefits of milk. But as the Globe And Mail notes, while humans have no requirements for cow milk in their diets and it’s probably not as healthy as the dairy industry would like us all to think, you can still get a lot of different nutrients from it, while no dietitian will argue that beer is, at best, empty calories.

[Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images]