As part of an ongoing ad campaign, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has posted billboards and posters across the U.S. encouraging people to look at animals as individuals rather than as food.
But one Baltimore restaurant is fighting back, defending a Maryland tradition with an ad of its own.
What's going on?
PETA's latest campaign shows a single animal on each advertisement, with the message: "I'm ME, not MEAT. See the individual. Go Vegan."
Last month, the animal-rights group erected a billboard with the message near several seafood restaurants in Baltimore. The animal highlighted is a Maryland blue crab, a regional delicacy typically steamed or boiled and served with Old Bay seasoning and vinegar or drawn butter.
PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman explained to Patch, "Just like humans, crabs feel pain and fear, have unique personalities, and value their own lives. PETA's billboard aims to give Charm City residents some food for thought about sparing sensitive marine animals the agony of being boiled alive or crushed to death in fishing nets simply by going vegan."
What was the response to the PETA billboard?
But PETA's billboard isn't just about making a philosophical statement — it's about putting people out of business, according to John Minadakis of Jimmy's Famous Seafood.
Minadakis responded to the ad by putting up a billboard of his own.
"We said we gotta respond," he told WJZ-TV, "we gotta get our crab up there and show them what a real Maryland crab looks like."
His billboard reads, "SteaMEd crabs. Here to stay. Get Famous," with a picture of a steamed blue crab dusted with seasoning.
"Maryland's backbone is the crab industry, and we were not going to sit idly on the sidelines while they attempted to cripple the local economy," Minadakis told Fox News. "We rolled up our sleeves, got to work, saved up our money, and erected the billboard. We will not be bullied into submission by PETA."
"As small business owners, we felt compelled to defend our history and livelihood from this unprovoked attack. My father built this landmark with his bare hands. Our family was raised in this business, and literally grew up on the second floor of the building," he added.
Jimmy's Famous Seafood has also mocked PETA using social media, tweeting out pictures of crab-picking customers with the message: "Found some photos of @peta - People Eating Tasty Animals..."
— Jimmy's Famous Seafood (@JimmysSeafood) August 25, 2018