There Is More Than One Way To Peel A Potato

The next time you teach idioms you might want to think carefully about the animal idioms you use. Are they promoting cruelty?

Phrases such as “bring home the bacon”, “take the bull by the horns” and “kill two birds with one stone” might appear to be innocent enough but according to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), these common phrases “perpetuate violence toward animals”.

Last year, PETA US encouraged us to consider the power of words through a viral campaign which aimed to end the use of anti-animal sayings.

PETA, argues that some animal idioms can normalise abuse and….

Teaching students to use animal-friendly language can cultivate positive relationships between all beings and help end the epidemic of youth violence toward animals.

Dr Carys Bennett from PETA UK spoke to talkRADIO and said that “archaic” sayings such as ‘there is more than one way to skin a cat’ have “no place in modern society” and as part of a humane curriculum we should swap them for cruelty-free versions such as ‘there is more than one way to peel a potato’. Other ‘harmful to helpful’ suggestions include:

  • ‘Killing two birds with one stone’ – ‘Feeding two birds with one scone’
  • ‘Flogging a dead horse’ – ‘Feeding a fed horse’
  • ‘Let the cat out of the bag’ – ‘Spill the beans’
  • ‘Bring home the bacon’ – ‘Bring home the bagels’
  • ‘Be the guinea pig’ – ‘Be the test tube’
  • “All your eggs in one basket” – “All your berries in one bowl”
  • ‘Taking the bull by the horns’ – “Taking the flower by the thorns”

Dr Bennett says that animals are sentient beings not objects and that “Hate speech in other terms related to sexism, racism and bigotry just isn’t acceptable anymore.”

As you would expect, after PETA announced their suggestions there was an online backlash and plenty of ridicule.  Are PETA feeding a fed horse and are there bigger fish to fry?

PETA wanted to start the conversation and engage with children and the public about compassionate language in relation to animals and they have certainly “opened a can of worms”.

Whether you agree with PETA or not, the idea of using helpful non-animal idioms to replace ‘harmful’ animal sayings is something to provoke discussion and debate.


Download the other sayings here.

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