Lettuce ladies urge Kazakhs to go vegetarian
By Michael Steen
ALMATY, Dec 12 (Reuters Life!) - Two British animal rights campaigners clad in nothing more than bikinis made of lettuce leaves braved freezing temperatures on Tuesday to urge the people of Kazakhstan to stop eating horses and go vegetarian.
As the putative homeland of fictional TV reporter Borat, the vast and formerly nomadic Central Asian state has risen to prominence in recent months, leading People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to ask them to stop eating meat.
"Whereas Borat is ridiculing the country, we're trying to come here with a positive message," Yvonne Taylor, 35, told Reuters. "We're saying that going vegetarian is the best thing people can do for their health and to stop animals suffering."
Kazakhstan's national cuisine is almost entirely meat-based. Horse sausage and boiled sheep's head are delicacies while lamb and offal are part of the staple diet.
Wearing sequined green bikinis made of plastic lettuce leaves and high heels, Taylor and colleague Lucy Groom, 27, shivered as they waved placards and posed in the biggest city Almaty at temperatures hovering just above freezing.
"We've got stronger immune systems because we're vegetarian," Taylor told reporters and photographers wearing winter coats in front of Kazakhstan's independence monument.
Passers-by, including groups of schoolchildren visiting the monument, gave the PETA campaigners a mixed reaction.
"I guess they are trying to encourage kids to eat their greens which is okay," Tursunai, a school teacher, said as she watched the campaigners, who call themselves "Lettuce Ladies," hand Russian-language leaflets to the children.
But pensioner Maria Amantayeva, walking past the monument with her husband, was less impressed. She said the only problem with meat in Kazakhstan was it was now too expensive.
"Kazakhs have eaten meat for generations and many have lived into their 90s or to 100," she said. "Why are men so weak today? I'll tell you, they don't eat enough meat."
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