The Financial Times ran an insightful profile on Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA. Newkirk is famous for tossing a dead raccoon on Anna Wintour’s plate at the Four Seasons, for telling Ben & Jerry’s to use human breast milk in their ice cream, and for coming up with probably all the red-paint-throwing fur protests you’ve read about over the years. But this profile paints a vivid picture of the woman many in the fashion industry have come to hate. She loves animals (obviously), she was raised in India where her mother worked with lepers, and she’s the head of the third largest animal-rights organization in the world. We thought we’d bring you the most amazing parts of the story to read for yourself.
On her decision to not have children:
Newkirk had married at 19, and by the age of 22 had had herself sterilised, a decision she says came from the conviction that the world was full of unwanted babies. At one point, she considered adopting, but she “just got too busy with the animals. I am interested in the underdog. I went to a boarding school where the nuns beat the five-year-olds. I cried for them, and I cry for the rabbits separated from their mothers.”
On why PETA targets the fur industry in particular:
Fur is high-profile, she explains, and her exploits in fashion alert other sectors to her potential to “out” those whom she considers to be violating animal rights. “Businesses are terrified,” she claims, unable to contain a certain glee. “They have no idea what I’m going to do next.”
Newkirk’s posthumous plans:
Her will states that her flesh should be barbecued, her skin used for leather, her liver sent to France for foie gras and her eyes skewered and delivered to the Environmental Protection Agency, so that she can watch over the American administration ad infinitum. “My point,” she says “is that I am an animal.”
Just how important are animals to Newkirk?
Peta recently put out a book, One Can Make a Difference. In it, Newkirk writes, “I live only for [animals], because if I didn’t have them I would have killed myself a long time ago.” Suicide averted, Newkirk still has to find a successor. I am looking for a “Mini-Me”, she says.