Business consultants are fond of saying that “a leader without followers is just a guy taking a walk.” We might say the same about a certain quasi-medical animal rights group that enjoys very little approval in the mainstream medical community. If you’re the so-called Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and very few doctors pay attention to your PETA-approved vegan-diet malarkey, what do you do? You make it a legal requirement for them to listen, of course. California doctors may soon become just such a captive audience.

For the uninitiated, PCRM is a deceptive animal rights group with longstanding ties to PETA. A majority of its funding comes from a single wealthy vegetarian restaurant owner, who (not coincidentally) is also the largest donor in PETA’s history. PCRM’s food mission is simple: leverage the prestige of a relative handful of vegan medical doctors to justify denigrating anything that contains meat, dairy, or eggs.

It’s no longer a secret that PCRM is a home for disaffected animal activists who want to force us all into meatless eating (for our own good, of course). Recently the McClatchy-Tribune News Service began adding a “tag” to PCRM president Neal Barnard’s opinion essays, noting that he “is president of the vegan advocacy group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.”

California’s legislature, however, may not (yet) get the joke.

According to legal observers (see page 3), the Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee of the California Senate recently approved a bill affecting the state Medical Board. If it becomes law, the Board would start including “changes in nutrition and lifestyle behavior” when educating doctors about treatments for chronic diseases.

This sounds innocuous enough on the surface, but there’s more. The bill is backed by PCRM and an organization called the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM). Curiously enough, ACLM’s 11-person advisory board includes four doctors who also sit on PCRM’s advisory board (and another who is a former PCRM advisor). One of those overlapping advisors, the vegan diet guru and long-time PCRM strategist John McDougall, testified in favor of the bill and reportedly wrote it.

Opposition to the bill comes from the California Academy of Family Physicians, the California Medical Association, and the California Orthopedic Association, among others.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with educating doctors (and their patients) about chronic diseases by examining lifestyle choices. But putting vegan evangelists in charge of the curriculum is a bad idea. Like PETA activists who slowly worm their way into middle schools with animal rights propaganda, PCRM’s infiltration of doctors’ Continuing Education systems appears to be a steady and deliberate process.

And as California goes, so goes the country.