The anti-meat movement is growing in directions that just about no one expected. Multi-million-dollar animal rights groups have always used impressionable 20-something banner wavers as a standing army, but now activist leaders are going after academia itself.

The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health raised a few eyebrows this month when its “Center for a Livable Future” (CLF) preemptively endorsed the soon-to-be-launched Meatless Monday campaign. For the record, CLF receives the bulk of its funding from New York City socialite Helaine Lerner, who also bankrolls nearly 100 percent of the GRACE Factory Farm Project. So far, absolutely no media commentators have bothered to inquire about the apparent hijacking of a university graduate school by anti-corporate and animal-rights messages.

And Sunday’s edition of The Pantagraph, a Central Illinois newspaper, describes a university-sanctioned visit to Illinois State University by a salaried PETA “lecturer” named Gary Yourofsky. One of this country’s most vehement opponents of meat consumption, Yourofsky sports an Animal Liberation Front tattoo on his arm and has spent time behind bars for releasing animals from a mink farm.

Shortly after 9-11, Yourofsky demanded that animal-rights activists avoid giving money to the American Red Cross, since that charity had refused to embrace PETA’s “animals first” philosophy. He has suggested that all American livestock producers should be “put on trial for depraved, nefarious, and inhuman acts of terrorism against the animal kingdom.” And in perhaps his best-known public comments, Yourofsky has openly advocated firebombing as a tactic to win “animal liberation,” telling other activists that he would “unequivocally support” an arson that resulted in the death of a so-called “animal abuser.”