Practicing a bit of lettuce diplomacy, PETA plans to take its animal rights and eat vegan campaign to Cuba Tuesday.
Two “lettuce ladies” clad in bikinis covered with lettuce leaves plan to board a JetBlue Havana flight at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and spend the next few day delivering $1,000 worth of veterinary supplies, spreading the vegan message at private language schools and giving out canine treats to Cuban street dogs.
The lettuce ladies “are a fun way to teach about going vegan,” said Ashley Byrne, a spokeswoman for PETA, an organization whose mantra is “animals are not ours to eat or abuse in any other way.”
In case there are objections to their travel attire, the ladies will be carrying robes. “Dress codes are up to the discretion of the airline, but we hope they appreciate our message,” said Byrne, who is accompanying the ladies to the island and has herself been a lettuce lady on other occasions. “Obviously the most important thing is getting there.”
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It’s PETA’s first foray into Cuba, but lettuce ladies have spread their vegan message far and wide, including an appearance in front of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington. Bryne said this is the first time they will try to board a plane wearing strategically placed lettuce leaves.
They chose Cuba for the campaign because the island is now more accessible.
“We started discussing this as soon as restrictions on travel to Cuba were lifted,” said Byrne. “We’ve taken this campaign around the world and we absolutely wanted to take it to Cuba.”
We’ve taken this campaign around the world and we absolutely wanted to take it to Cuba.
Ashley Byrne, PETA
The PETA representatives will be traveling to Cuba under the humanitarian support category — one of 12 permissible categories the U.S. government allows for travel to the island by Americans.
“We have not discussed our plans with the Cuban government,” said Byrne. The Cuban Embassy in Washington didn’t respond to a Miami Herald query about PETA’s plans.
The lettuce ladies plan to stay in Cuba until Saturday spreading the message that going vegan keeps animals off the plate and delivering supplies to organizations that work with street animals.
They also plan to distribute vegetable-shaped pens and stickers to Cubans and tourists in Old Havana and Spanish-language vegan starter kits.
“The kits will have recipes and advice that make it simple for people to start a vegan diet,” said Bryne, “and the recipes are geared toward foods that we know people like to eat there — beans, rice, plantains.”
Follow Mimi Whitefield on Twitter: @HeraldMimi