Miss United Kingdom Universe Brooke Johnston’s PETA Interview
PETA: What made you decide to get involved in speaking up for animals?
Brooke: I feel that animals are voiceless and that it is our responsibility to help them and contribute to their well-being. I’ve been an animal rights advocate since I was a child and a vegetarian for 12 years, so it’s my privilege to be here today and help PETA.
PETA: What incident made you become a vegetarian?
Brooke: When I was 15 years old, I was taking a class on environmental geography, and a girl did a presentation on why she was a vegetarian. She talked about the health benefits and the environmental benefits, but the thing that moved me the most was when she talked about how animals were treated in factory farms. When I learned about this, I was shocked – I’d never heard about it. I’d always assumed that animals were raised on an “Old MacDonald” kind of farm and treated well. I did some further research on it and consulted PETA’s websites, and I learned that the cruelty was, in fact, a reality. I decided that I could not support any industry that would treat animals like this, so I just gave up meat. It’s been 12 years, and I’m happy and healthy and very glad about my decision.
PETA: What would you say to people who are hesitant to go vegetarian?
Brooke: Try it for a weekend. Vegetarianism is really easy and delicious, and it can make a big change in how you feel about yourself and your energy levels. Try it and see how it goes, and you’ll see that it really does make a difference. You’ll be a lot happier too.
PETA: What would you say to people who don’t care about what happens to animals in factory farms or abattoirs?
Brooke: Think about what would happen if somebody did that to you. We often see on the news how children are treated badly, and we feel compassion for them, and I find it hard to believe that no one could feel compassion for animals who spend their lives abused and in cages. Just think about how you would feel if it were your dog or cat or your own child.
I mean, it is appalling. If you do your research, you’ll find that most of what’s on your dinner plate has been treated cruelly. Why would you want to contribute to that suffering?
PETA: Have you ever turned down a modelling job because of your strong belief in animal rights?
Brooke: Yes, my strong belief in animal rights has led me to turn down some modelling work. I was asked one time to do a fashion shoot for fur, and of course, I immediately turned it down. I believe even more strongly in boycotting fur than in not eating meat. Fur is disgusting. I told my agent that under no circumstances was I ever to be booked for a fur campaign.
PETA: We create provocative ads, and some people think that we go too far. What do you think?
Brooke: I think that the provocative ads are good because you need shock value to get the message across. It’s only complementing the shocking acts that are done by factory farms and fur manufacturers, so I think it’s necessary.
PETA: What’s the best thing about being Miss United Kingdom?
Brooke: It’s hard to say because there are so many wonderful opportunities. I’ve been able to travel, meet really interesting people and compete in Miss Universe, which is a lot of fun and my dream. But I must say that working with charities and being able to be a voice for charities is really nice.
I’ve worked in an orphanage for children with HIV, which is very special, and I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to raise money for them. Working with PETA, which is an organisation that I’ve been following since I was a young teen, has been a really great experience, and I’m so happy to be able to do it.
PETA: How was your experience as a “Lettuce Lady” in an ad for PETA?
Brooke: It’s been somewhat surreal doing this because I grew up looking at these adverts by PETA and following what you’re doing, and now I’m part of it. It’s really great, and I’m very proud to be associated with this wonderful organisation.
Also, an important thing that made me become vegetarian was information, so I hope that if someone sees this ad and can find out more about how animals are treated – and maybe make a positive change in his or her life for the well-being of animals – it’s only a good thing.