Washington, D.C. (CNSNews.com) - The message may have been to avoid eating meat, but most people lining up Wednesday outside a Congressional building appeared more interested in ogling a Playboy Playmate and consuming the free veggie hot dogs than in embracing the agenda of the event's sponsor, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Lauren Anderson, Playboy Magazine's Miss July, showed up in a red, white and blue bikini to dole out the hot dogs to congressional staffers and at least one U.S. Congressman, and to promote PETA's agenda.
But a consumer group called the "Cruelty-Free Congressional Cookout," event "window dressing" to cover PETA's support of organizations that "are linked to terrorism."
Anderson told CNSNews.com that her message was for "everybody to go vegetarian" because "cruelty to animals is terrible and it needs to be stopped."
When asked if she favored shutting down animal farms in the U.S., Anderson replied, "I would love for people to have the animals, but just stop killing them, it's not necessary."
According to Anderson, the consumption of meat is unnecessary in today's world.
"Maybe if we were back in the Indian days, where, you know, they killed you and ate you and, you know, you shot them with an arrow and then ate them raw, maybe that would be a different story," she explained.
Anderson disagrees with some animal rights activists who oppose PETA's use of nude models to promote its cause.
"I don't believe I am exploiting women or I wouldn't have been here and I wouldn't have been in Playboy," she said.
The crowd of several hundred, mostly men, included Rep. James Moran (D-Va.), who agreed that the use of nude models to further PETA's cause was not offensive.
"My gosh! What a creative thing -- to exploit attractive women to sell a point," Moran said with sarcasm in his voice.
Then, in a serious tone, he added, "One of the reasons why they are so attractive is because they watch their diet and they don't eat a lot of meat."
"Of all the exploitation of women, I think this is one of the least exploitive ways in which attractive women are used," Moran said.
Bill Schneider, CNN's senior political analyst, posed with Anderson for a television promo.
"I am Bill Schneider. Why is Playboy's Miss July here on Capitol Hill? It's not what it looks like. I am here to investigate," Schneider insisted during repeated tapings.
Mike Burita, communication director for the Center For Consumer Freedom, an advocacy arm of the restaurant and food and beverage industry, warned the congressional veggie dog eaters not to be distracted from what he said was PETA's real agenda.
"I would encourage them to pay heed to PETA's message when they support both philosophically and financially groups that are linked to violence and terrorism," Burita said.
Burita's group supports an IRS complaint filed by the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, that alleges PETA has supported FBI designated domestic terrorist groups like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF).
Burita believes the FBI should investigate PETA's ties to extremist groups, but a PETA spokesman dismissed the allegations.
"If we did anything illegal or untoward or anything like what they are accusing us of, we would be shut down in a matter of days and the fact is that has not happened," said Dan Shannon, a campaign coordinator with PETA.
"We stand by all of our donations. It is all public record," Shannon added.
According to Shannon, the ELF donation was made to "their press office to publish a pamphlet about environmentalism and vegetarianism."
Burita countered that that is "one of seven responses [PETA] have given" regarding their donations to ELF.
"To my knowledge, there is nothing that the ELF is engaged in that is considered a lawful activity," Burita said.
Moran seemed unconcerned about the controversy surrounding PETA, saying he was present only to make a culinary statement, not a political statement.
"I am really here to get a good taste of the hot dogs," Moran said.
Moran did say some activists could get "too extreme," pointing to a recent article he read about a group that believes people should not pull fruit off of a tree, but wait until it hits the ground to consume.
"I am not with those guys. I prefer my fruit unbruised, so if that makes me a moderate, so be it," Moran said.
Nick Siegel of Harrisburg, Pa., on vacation in Washington with his family, also did not concern himself with PETA's political agenda.
"I am not sure what their message is. I want to get a hot dog," Siegel said as he waited in the long line with his children.
E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.
See Earlier Story:
Feminists Battle 'Animal Rights' Activists Over Alleged Sexism