PETA hopes Nickelodeon's pizza-loving heroes in a half shell will go dairy-free in the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series.
In a letter sent today to the cable network, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked that the upcoming television reboot change more than the characterizations of Raphael and Leonardo, and depict the four heroes as vegans.
“Modern kids are embracing vegan food, so why shouldn’t modern Ninja Turtles?” PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in a statement. “Vegan pizza is popular, and it’s healthier and far kinder to animals than old-fashioned dairy cheese pizza. PETA thinks that’s something the ‘Heroes in a Half Shell’ would support.”
Announced in March 2017, the 2D-animated Rise of the Teenage Mutant Turtles will reimagine the iconic characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, and make several changes to established Turtles lore -- perhaps most notably, Raphael is now the leader, and Leonardo is the “self-professed ‘coolest’ brother.” The voice cast includes John Cena as new villain Baron Draxum.
The 26-episode first season is set to debut sometime this year, which likely means PETA's request arrives a bit late.
In the letter to Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami, PETA's Lauren Thomasson cites the growing popularity of tofu and non-dairy milk among Generation Z (those born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s), and the rise of vegan options on college campuses. "Putting vegan pizza on the Fab Four’s plates is sure to inspire fans to try it themselves, and that would be great news for cows," Thomasson writes. "The dairy industry isn’t kind to these gentle, intelligent beings — they often spend their lives standing on concrete floors, separated from their babies and tethered to machines until their milk production wanes. Their misery ends at the slaughterhouse."
In addition to Cena, the voice cast of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles includes Omar Miller (Ballers) as Raphael, Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) as Leonardo, Brandon Mychal Smith (You’re the Worst) as Michelangelo, Josh Brener (Silicon Valley) as Donatello, Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries) as April O'Neil and Eric Bauza (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as Splinter.
Read the full text of PETA's letter to Nickelodeon below:
Dear Ms. Zarghami,
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide—a bunch of them dyed-in-the-half-shell fans of Mikey, Leo, Raph, and Donnie—to say, “Bodacious!”
That was the reaction around here when word got out about Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What really got PETA buzzing, though, was the “different direction” that you spelled out for the new series. More laughs? Mystic ninja powers? Gnarly!
But every fan worth his or her nunchucks knows that wherever the show leads the Turtles, they’ll be fueling up with pizza. It’s practically their raison d’être, right? That’s another reason why I’m getting in touch: to ask that their pies and slices be vegan, because compassionate eating is the direction that TMNT fans, their siblings, and their parents are taking.
Check this out: Generation Z already scarfs down 57 percent more tofu and chugs 550 percent more nondairy milk than millennials do. Meanwhile, 70 percent of U.S. college campuses offer daily vegan options—that’s an awesome 42 percent jump from just four years ago—and one in five even have an all-vegan dining station. Twenty-six percent of all consumers say that they’ve cut back on eating meat in the last 12 months, and 58 percent of adults drink nondairy milk.
What’s that mean for reptilian—and human—pizza connoisseurs? More than 40 restaurant chains across the country, including Two Boots, &pizza, and Pizza Studio in the Turtles’ New York City stomping grounds, have taken note and added vegan cheese to their menus, and many of them now offer cruelty-free toppings like mock meats, seasoned tempeh, and tofu.
Putting vegan pizza on the Fab Four’s plates is sure to inspire fans to try it themselves, and that would be great news for cows. The dairy industry isn’t kind to these gentle, intelligent beings—they often spend their lives standing on concrete floors, separated from their babies and tethered to machines until their milk production wanes. Their misery ends at the slaughterhouse.
I’ve got to believe that the Turtles would be willing to help save other animals’ lives.
Thanks for your time and for considering this important issue. I’m looking forward to discussing it with you.