Ingrid Newkirk, the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, must not fly very often. Last month the head of the militant animal-rights group sent a letter to Frontier Airlines CEO Sean Menke, suggesting that if he wanted to help the company fight its way back from bankruptcy, he should remove meat products from the Denver-based airline's in-flight meals and serve only vegetarian fare.
The catch? Frontier, like most other cost-cutting, nickel-and-diming, fuel-hungry post-9/11 airlines, hadn't been serving anything meatier than Sun Chips (at least on 99 percent of its flights), says company spokesman Steve Snyder. This week, in fact, Frontier did away with all free snacks, replacing them with a line of specially created munchies from Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Co. — available for $3 a bag. Although the snacks all feature creatures on the packaging — consistent with Frontier's longtime animal-related branding and marketing campaigns — none of them have animals inside.
In her letter, Newkirk cited a recent United Nations research report indicating that the meat industry generates more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the planes, cars, trucks, ships and trains in the world. Which means that less meat equals less pollution and better PR. In addition, she pointed out that overweight flyers would drop "excess baggage" by eating veggie food, thereby saving the airlines some fuel costs.
But Snyder wasn't amused by PETA's pluck.
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"Not sure if that was a tongue-in-cheek press release," he says. "If they were serious, we obviously haven't given a lot of time to this. We've got some fairly serious issues in front of us to deal with."
Clucky charm: And speaking of pluck, Denver has turned chicken. On April 26, the Denver Botanic Gardens hosted a how-to class on raising the birds in the city (Off Limits, May 1), and the crowd of fifty or so was so enthusiastic that the DBG has replaced a second two-hour class with two four-hour classes, one on May 31 and another on June 29, at its Chatfield location. The fact that owning livestock isn't exactly legal in Denver — aside from certain permitted exceptions — didn't dampen the egg-citement.
The Gardens also replaced chicken professor Susan Tobias, owner of the now-closed Rancho de Pollo in Boulder, with Kelly Simmons, director of the non-profit Boulder Sustainability Education Center. "My feeling, having watched [Tobias] teach, was that she didn't have enough experience with backyard chicken-keeping that people were looking for," says public-programs manager Celia Curtis. Simmons "lives what she teaches," Curtis adds, since she runs urban-chicken workshops and raises hens in her small suburban back yard in South Boulder. A few months ago, Simmons also gave testimony that helped lead to the legalization of chickens in Lyons. Can Denver be far behind?