I was PETA’s first Executive Director from 1987 to 1992 and wrote about the experience in my book, Growl, published by Lantern Books (2014). I concluded:
“If I’d had my way, PETA would have further developed the two-part strategy that made it so dynamic and attractive in the first place [presenting the problem of animal exploitation and the solution of animal rights], and made me want to work for it all those years ago. I would have invested more in PETA’s ability to document and publicise the problem of institutionalised animal exploitation using undercover investigations. I would have grown its ability to inspire people to engage in cruelty-free, vegan living without relying upon the gratuitous exploitation of others.
“As effective and creative as PETA remains, I believe it could be even more so. It’s perhaps a sign of PETA’s success, and the challenges it faces as an organisation, that Mercy for Animals, The Humane Society of the United States, and Compassion Over Killing are now known for their undercover investigations, and Vegan Outreach for its ‘Go Vegan’ campaigns, rather than the organisation that pioneered them. Like BUAV [British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection] when I arrived in the late 1970s, PETA has the task of reinventing itself to make it relevant and contemporary in an arena crowded with younger and more dynamic groups.”
While her experiences are not mine (all of our experiences are by their nature individually different), and thinking about what I hear from people who have worked at PETA since my time, Laura’s account reads truthful and heartfelt.