Ingrid Newkirk

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Ingrid Newkirk (born July 11, 1949) is a British-born animal rights activist, and the co-founder and current president of PETA, the world's largest animal rights organization.


  • Look out for your baby or your friend, of course. That is easy. The test of moral fiber is to stick up for those you relate to least, understand minimally, and do not think are that much like you.
    • Keynote address at the 2002 "Animal Rights" conference[1]
  • I am just trying to make the best possible case for the animals. That is clearly what I have been put on earth to do. Even after I am gone I will try to continue.
  • When we build an attractive home, we raze land on which animals have already built their homes. They have nowhere to go.
    • Reason, June, 1990
  • We have to be aggressive when those we stick up for have no voice. I don't consider it radical to say cruelty is wrong and that animals should be respected. I consider it radical to eat corpses, put electrodes in animals' heads, make elephants live in chains in the circus, and poison animals we consider a nuisance.
    • Veg Family, March, 2003 [3]
  • We are opposed to all cruelty, so as advocates of non-violence, opponents of oppression, people who abhor the cruelty inherent in slaughtering we say the only ethical way to consume flesh is to pick up the carcass of an animal who has died naturally or been killed accidentally, say by being hit by a car, and eat that.
    • India Together, July, 2000 [4]
  • Seriously, I think everybody needs to be more disciplined; nobody needs any meat. But from a perspective of how many animals suffer, it’s probably better to kill and eat one whale than it is to eat fish, chickens, cows, lambs and eggs.
    • Satya, November, 2000 [5]
  • I think that’s just a throwaway line, because most people don’t really care if they are being true to their original nature. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be wearing clothes and driving cars, but out picking berries and eating bark. If you study anthropology — which most people don’t — and you start to learn about our intestinal structure, our teeth, our digestive system, our mouth structure, you begin to realize that maybe we aren’t meant to be eating animals after all.
    • Montreal Mirror [6]
    • In response to people who say it is natural to eat meat
  • Eating meat is primitive, barbaric, and arrogant.
  • There is no hidden agenda. If anybody wonders about — what’s this with all these reforms — you can hear us clearly. Our goal is total animal liberation.
  • Six million people died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses.
  • That's what the Nazis did, isn't it? Treated those "others" they thought subhuman by making them lab subjects and so on. Even the Nazis didn't eat the objects of their derision.
  • Animal liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals
    • Vogue 1989 September 1
    • Attributed variants:
      • "When it comes to having a central nervous system, and the ability to feel pain, hunger, and thirst, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy"
      • "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They’re all animals." — Washingtonian magazine, 1986 August 1
  • I am not a morose person, but I would rather not be here. I don’t have any reverence for life, only for the entities themselves. I would rather see a blank space where I am. This will sound like fruitcake stuff again but at least I wouldn’t be harming anything
  • Humans have grown like a cancer. We're the biggest blight on the face of the earth.
  • I’m not only uninterested in having children. I am opposed to having children. Having a purebred human baby is like having a purebred dog; it is nothing but vanity, human vanity.
  • If that hideousness came here, it wouldn't be any more hideous for the animals — they are all bound for a ghastly death anyway. But it would wake up consumers. … I openly hope it [hoof and mouth disease] comes here. It will bring economic harm only for those who profit from giving people heart attacks and giving animals a concentration camp-like existence. It would be good for animals, good for human health and good for the environment.
    • ABC News interview, 2001 April 2
    • During the hoof and mouth disease outbreak in Europe
  • I plan to send my liver somewhere in France, to protest foie gras (liver pate) … I plan to have handbags made from my skin … and an umbrella stand made from my seat.
  • While the final decision as to the use of my body remains with PETA, I make the following suggested directions:
    a) That the 'meat' of my body, or a portion thereof, be used for a human barbecue, to remind the world that the meat of a corpse is all flesh, regardless of whether it comes from a human being or another animal and that flesh foods are not needed.
    b) That my skin, or a portion thereof, be removed and made into leather products, such as purses, to remind the world that human skin and the skin of other animals is the same and that neither is 'fabric' or needed.
    c) That my feet be removed and umbrella stands or other ornamentation be made from them, as a reminder of the depravity of killing innocent animals, such as elephants, in order that we might use their body parts for household items and decorations.
    d) That my eyes be removed, mounted and delivered to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency as a reminder that Peta will continue to be watching the agency until it stops poisoning and torturing animals in useless and cruel experiments.
    e) That my pointing finger be delivered to Kenneth Feld, the owner of Ringling Brothers or to a circus museum, to stand as the 'Greatest Accusation on Earth' on behalf of the countless animals who have been deprived of all that is natural and pleasant to them, abused and forced into involuntary servitude for the sake of cheap entertainment.
    • Ingrid Newkirk's will, quoted in "Mother Nature", The Observer 2003 June 22 [8]
  • If Vice President Al Gore advocated killing rabbits to see if women are pregnant and called it a step forward for science, we'd all think he'd gone 'round the bend. We don't need to do that sort of thing anymore, we'd say. We have better, kinder ways.
  • If anyone did that, I absolutely apologize. … Because everything we do is based at adults. We're asking adults be responsible. You were telling me about giving your children meat and milk. They're going to be to grow up to be tubs of lard. They're getting heart attacks.
    • Interview on CNN's Crossfire (2002); in response to Tucker Carlson's description of a PETA member campaigning directly to his four-year-old son outside a circus.

On publicity[edit]

Probably everything we do is a publicity stunt … we are not here to gather members, to please, to placate, to make friends. We're here to hold the radical line.


  • We are complete press sluts.
  • Society is celebrity-based and we are determined to use [celebrities'] voices to make sure no one forgets there are issues over the use of animals. Celebrities can be great for our cause and can really make people sit up and think for the first time about animal abuse.
  • In today’s world of tabloid press and with so much competing for people’s attention, it’s a miracle to get their attention at all. And of course having to compete with the advertising budget of even one of our adversaries is impossible. If the whole movement pooled its resources and went after simply one thing, like the veal industry, we wouldn’t make a dent, advertising dollar for advertising dollar. To me the greatest success is in catching the attention of the public and reminding them that there’s an animal involved, and that that animal is believed not to have been treated properly by a segment of the population.
    • Satya, November, 2000 [9].
  • No one has to stand behind us; we’ve never asked anyone to defend the way we get attention. The fact is we are the biggest group because we succeed in getting attention. … The fact is we may be doing all sorts of things on a campaign but the one thing that gets attention is the outrageous thing. It simply goes to prove to us each time, that that is the thing that’s going to work; and so we won’t shirk from doing that facet — in addition to all the other things we do that you never hear about because no one cares.
    • Satya, January, 2001 [10].

On animal research and activism against it[edit]

  • If my father had a heart attack, it would give me no solace at all to know his treatment was first tried on a dog.
  • Even painless research is fascism, supremacism, because the act of confinement is traumatizing in itself.
    • Washingtonian Magazine, August, 1986.
  • I know it's illegal [trespassing], but I don't think it's wrong.
  • It [animal research] is immoral even if it's essential.
  • When I hear of anyone walking into a lab and walking out with animals, my heart sings.
    • "To Market, To Market," Los Angeles Times Magazine, 1992 March 22.
  • I wish we all would get up and go into the labs and take the animals out or burn them down.
  • Would I rather the research lab that tests animals is reduced to a bunch of cinders? Yes.
  • Perhaps the mere idea of receiving a nasty missive will allow animal researchers to empathize with their victims for the first time in their lousy careers. I find it small wonder that the laboratories aren’t all burning to the ground. If I had more guts, I’d light a match.
  • If it’s anything that’s going to result in suffering to animals or people, then I don’t think [the end] justifies the means. … Yeah; but then again if you could hurt ten people to save 100 people and there was no option, what would you do? I can’t really address that.
    • Satya, January, 2001 [11].
  • Our nonviolent tactics are not as effective. We ask nicely for years and get nothing. Someone makes a threat, and it works.

On other animal rights groups[edit]

  • Well, it’s not like this is anything we are trying to hide. About three times in our 21-year history we have thought it was a good idea — and still do — to defend some very good activists who have done some decent things for animals and who have happened to get into trouble. One of those people is Rodney Coronado, who is a very committed Native American animal rights activist and a decent person. He did something [firebombed a research facility at Michigan State University] that put him in prison for three-and-a-half years and I think that if we hadn’t provided him with a good legal defence he wouldn’t be back out doing productive things in the community again — like the good person that he is. We are very happy to have done that.
    • Montreal Mirror [12].

On pets[edit]

  • In the end, I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.
  • Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation.
  • I don’t use the word 'pet.' I think it’s speciesist language. I prefer 'companion animal.' For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding. People could not create different breeds. There would be no pet shops. If people had companion animals in their homes, those animals would have to be refugees from the animal shelters and the streets. You would have a protective relationship with them just as you would with an orphaned child. But as the surplus of cats and dogs (artificially engineered by centuries of forced breeding) declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out, and we would return to a more symbiotic relationship — enjoyment at a distance.
    • The Harper's Forum Book, Jack Hitt, ed., 1989, p. 223.
  • You don't have to own squirrels and starlings to get enjoyment from them … One day, we would like an end to pet shops and the breeding of animals. [Dogs] would pursue their natural lives in the wild … they would have full lives, not wasting at home for someone to come home in the evening and pet them and then sit there and watch TV.
  • The bottom line is that people don't have the right to manipulate or to breed dogs and cats... If people want toys, they should buy inanimate objects. If they want companionship, they should seek it with their own kind.
  • If a girl gets sexual pleasure from riding a horse, does the horse suffer? If not, who cares? If you French kiss your dog and he or she thinks it's great, is it wrong? We believe all exploitation and abuse is wrong. If it isn't exploitation and abuse, it may not be wrong.
  • And I love walking someone else’s dog. I don’t have the luxury of having a dog myself because I travel too much, but I love walking and cuddling somebody else’s dog. I just came back from the shelter today and they let me walk three dogs at lunchtime. It was great.
    • Satya, January, 2001 [15].
  • We do not advocate "right to life" for animals.
    • On a postcard to Nathan Winograd, a neuter/release and no-kill shelter advocate[16].
  • Euthanasia is the kindest gift to a dog or cat unwanted and unloved.
    • At a press conference in 2005, after two PETA employees were arrested for animal cruelty after dumping hundreds of dead animals in a dumpster [17].

Quotes of others about Ingrid Newkirk[edit]

  • Since co-founding People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals 21 years ago, Ingrid Newkirk has emerged as one of the shining lights of the animal rights movement. Through the use of shock tactics and a continuing series of controversial media campaigns, Newkirk and PETA have been able to effect change where other animal rights activists have failed miserably. Although criticized at one point or another by seemingly everybody under the sun, PETA nevertheless has a world-wide membership of over 300,000 activists and continues to be one of the most visible animal rights organizations in the world.
    • Chris Barry, Montreal Mirror [18].
  • Fast-food chains, clothing designers and even U.S. presidential candidates know the bitterness of the long, hard P.R. winter that is a Newkirk-directed campaign. Tofu cream pies are thrown at CEOs, gruesome billboards go up near corporate headquarters and throngs of vocal protesters dog profit margins at the wave of Newkirk's hand. McDonald's, General Motors, Calvin Klein and, most recently, Burger King have all buckled under the strain in one way or another.
  • Ingrid Newkirk is not only a thoughtful animal rights and environmental activist. She is an inspirational leader. A heroine. A woman upon whom so many depend, around the world, for information and guidance. In a world where all animals, everywhere, are more threatened than ever, Ingrid Newkirk is their champion.
    • Alec Baldwin (attributed) [20].
  • When we were in Savannah, she told me, in the most unequivocal terms, that the world would be an infinitely better place without humans in it at all.

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