PETA plasters anti-crab-eating billboards

By Karen Campbell, Jenny Fulginiti

BALTIMORE, MD (WBAL) -- Crabs are friends, not food. That's what billboards near the Baltimore Inner Harbor are saying in an attempt to get people to go vegan.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has plastered billboards near seafood restaurants in Baltimore as part of a nationwide campaign to get seafood off people's plates.

The billboard displays a colorful blue crab and says, "I'm ME, Not MEAT. See the Individual. Go Vegan."

The posters are located near seafood restaurants such as Phillips Seafood, Mo's Fisherman's Wharf, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks, The Oceanaire Seafood Room and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

One billboard sits atop Silver Moon II in downtown Baltimore.

"Whatever they say, 'Go vegan,' whatever, nothing is going to work," said Nick Lentis, owner of Silver Moon II.

"Vegan is for vegan. Do what you have to do. Eat what you have to eat. Don't press the people to go do that, so leave the people alone., Lentis said.

PETA spokeswoman Amber Caravan said the billboards are meant to start a conversation.

"We don't need to be subjecting these feeling and intelligent animals to unnecessary cruelty and violence. We have all the alternatives at our fingertips," Caravan said.

The Land of Kush is a restaurant that specializes in those alternatives. Owner Greg Brown became a vegan for health reasons and see's the billboards as encouraging.

"Somebody might see the sign and say , 'Ugh I don't like that.' But then it begins a whole conversation and when they dig in and explore, now we can go into the different levels of what vegan means. It might mean health, animal rights or environmental issues," Brown said.

"Just like humans, crabs feel pain and fear, have unique personalities, and value their own lives," said Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of PETA. "PETA's billboard aims to give Charm City residents some food for thought about sparing sensitive marine animals the agony of being boiled alive or crushed to death in fishing nets, simply by going vegan."

But, some say eating crabs is something they won't give up.

"I love crabs. I'm so used to eating crabs, so I wouldn't give up eating crabs," said local Larry Wallace.

"Everybody, they know Maryland and Baltimore City, they sell the best crabs," Lentis said.

The billboards will remain up through Sept. 15, when the Baltimore Seafood Festival will be held.

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