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Old PETA Campaign Linking Milk to Autism Has People Outraged

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An old People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) campaign is making its way around the internet again, almost 10 years after it was originally launched. In 2008, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) fought — and won — to have a PETA billboard taken down that linked drinking milk caused autism. In addition to the billboard, the campaign, titled “Got Autism,” also featured an article on PETA’s website, which still exists to this day.

According to PETA, “Anyone who wants to alleviate the effects of autism should try giving cow’s milk the boot and switch to healthy vegan alternatives instead.” The organization’s claims were based on two incredibly small studies, that looked at 20 and 36 children respectively. Since then, multiple studies have found the evidence linking casein-free (the protein found in milk) and gluten-free diets as a “treatment” for autism to be “limited and weak.”

The campaign appears to be brought back to people’s attention by Jack Monroe, an autistic British food writer who tweeted on Thursday asking the controversial organization to remove Monroe’s recipes from its site.

Less than a day following their tweets, PETA removed Monroe’s recipes from its site but has not taken down the original article or issued any comments regarding its campaign. Since then, others have replied on Twitter criticizing PETA and asking them to remove the campaign from its website.

The campaign’s resurfacing marks the third time people have protested the nearly decade-old campaign. The campaign made headlines again in 2014, but was not removed despite media attention.

Update: A spokesperson for PETA told The Mighty: 

This is an old campaign that is still on our website because we have heard from people who have said it contains helpful information. Many families have found that a dairy-free diet can help children with autism, and since the consumption of dairy products has been linked to asthma, constipation, recurrent ear infections, iron deficiency, anemia, and even cancer, dumping dairy is a healthy choice that everyone can make.

The Mighty reached out to Jack Monroe and has yet to hear back. 

Originally published: September 8, 2017
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