PETA's 'Plan V' for Contraception Misses Mark

PETA urging people to go vegan to lose weight for Plan B to work.

ByABC News
December 4, 2013, 5:17 PM

Dec. 4, 2013— --

PETA has jumped into the Plan B conversation to offer its own contraceptive plan: Plan V.

For vegan.

As in go vegan to lose weight and Plan B will work better for you at preventing unwanted pregnancies.

In its letter to Population Connection, a nonprofit organization aimed at population stabilization, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, president Ingrid Newkirk noted that vegans were 18 percent thinner than nonvegans.

"With access to family-planning tools being essential, we're proposing 'Plan V,' a program that will encourage women to adopt a healthy vegan diet in order to lose weight and so take control of their reproductive rights," Newkirk wrote.

This comes on the heels of news that the French manufacturer of a Plan B-like drug in Europe announced that it was seeking to change its label after a study of 1,700 women found that the emergency contraceptive pill didn't work as well for women who weighed more than 176 pounds.

"If extra pounds are thwarting a woman's ability to use Plan B, PETA's 'Plan V' could be the prescription they need," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement. "Going vegan is a great way to lose weight and get healthy, and it could help women regain control over their reproductive lives."

In a response to PETA, Population Connection president John Seager wrote, "It would be unfortunate if the importance of access to and consistent use of modern contraception gets lost in some wide-ranging discussion about everything under the sun, including the many positive benefits of a vegan diet."

Weight experts worry that PETA is sending the wrong message, oversimplifying the weight loss and perhaps even unintentionally adding stigma to the issue.

Emily Dhurandhar, an obesity researcher at the University of Alabama, said there's often more to losing weight than simply going vegan. If dieters don't reduce the number of calories they take in through food and increase their energy output, they won't lose weight.

"We assume weight loss is easy. 'Oh, you just do one thing,'" she told "It's a challenge."

She said this is an example of an oversimplication of weight loss, which is prevalent throughout society today. This "is often rooted in a bias that weight loss is simple and that people are choosing to be overweight, and weight is an issue of personal responsibility," Dhurandhar said in an email.

Dhurandhar said she believes PETA was trying to use recent Plan B news as a springboard for promoting its own goal of convincing more people to forgo animal products -- not intentionally engaging in "fat shaming," as Mother Jones called it in a recent article.

Alicia Woempner, a special projects manager at PETA, said she is 6 feet tall and weighed more than 200 pounds before going vegan a few years ago. Now she weighs 150 pounds.

"It's unfortunate that we cannot have a productive discussion about women's health without the conversation devolving into accusations of fat shaming," Woempner said, adding that the average woman is under 5 feet 4 and would be overweight if she weighed more than 176 pounds and was therefore too heavy for Plan B to be effective.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a senior medical contributor to ABC News and practicing OB/GYN, said that regardless of whether they decide to go vegan, it's important for women to remember that all forms of hormonal contraception can potentially have decreased effectiveness for women with higher body weights.

"For women in this weight range, they should understand the need for checking future pregnancy tests following the use of [emergency contraception] and also the value of an IUD [intrauterine device] ... following unprotected intercourse to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy," she said.