PETA billboard gets a crabby reaction in Md.

WASHINGTON — Steamed crabs are a Maryland tradition, but they’re one that the animal-rights group PETA is trying to change.

There’s a big billboard in downtown Baltimore — sort of where the Inner Harbor meets Little Italy — with a big blue crab on it that says: “I’m ME, Not MEAT. See The Individual. Go Vegan.”

“People might not realize it right off the bat, but crabs and other aquatic animals are complex,” said Amber Canavan, a spokeswoman for PETA. “They’re like us in many ways, including their ability to feel pain. So scientists have determined that crabs and other crustaceans, like all animals, feel pain.”

PETA is known for being provocative about pushing animal rights and vegan messages.

“It was the perfect place to place this billboard and get this conversation going,” said Canavan.  “This is obviously needed in Baltimore.”

Not everyone agreed.

“Hell no, it’s Maryland,” said Sammie, who found the idea “absurd.” Her friend likened it to the Chick-fil-A cows saying to eat more chicken.

“That’s why people come to Maryland — to eat seafood, blue crabs,” he added.

“I think it’s a little comical,” added Megan. “This is a crab-loving city.”

When asked about vegan seafood entrees — which Canavan said have “pleasantly surprised” people — Megan said it’s something she’s not willing to consider, nor would she expect any restaurants around here to do so either.

“I would not recommend it” if they want to stay in business, she said flatly. “I don’t even know what that would be.”

Another woman, who didn’t want to give her name and was clearly annoyed by the suggestion coming from PETA, had this message:  “We’ve got crime in Baltimore. Focus on that, not the crabs.

“Pick your battle. Crabs aren’t one of them.”

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