The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the nation’s most notorious animal-rights group, has grown by leaps and bounds. With over 700,000 members, 120 employees, and a rich vein of celebrity supporters like Paul McCartney, actress Kim Bassinger and many others, PETA’s 1999 budget was reported to be more than $16 million, $3 million over their previous fiscal year. Last year, PETA programs sponsored by its education department reached 170,000 schoolteachers and enrolled more than 4 million students.

Seeing PETA’s unprecedented growth, other older animal protection organizations have grown more militant in an effort to not be over-shadowed. But in the war of words, it’s hard to out-gun PETA.

Here’s how PETA and other animal rights zealots fight to restrict your food choices:

“Arson, property destruction, burglary and theft are ‘acceptable crimes’ when used for the animal cause.”
– Alex Pacheco, PETA’s former director, now head of an animal rights fundraising company.

“We’re looking for good lawsuits that will establish the interests of animals as a legitimate area of concern in law.”
– Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s longtime president.

“Meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health as tobacco use. It’s time we looked into holding the meat producers and fast-food outlets legally accountable.”
-Neil Barnard, PETA science advisor and president of the militant Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

“Perhaps the mere idea of receiving a nasty missive will allow animal researchers to empathize with their victims for the first time in their lousy careers…I find it small wonder that the laboratories aren’t all burning to ground. If I had a more guts, I’d light a match.”
– Ingrid Newkirk, after an underground group Justice Department mailed 87 razor-blade laced threats to medical researchers studying news drugs on primates.

“Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but 6 billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses.”
– Ingrid Newkirk, president, PETA

“The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration.”
– Michael W. Fox, vice president, The Humane Society of the United States

“We feel that animals have the same rights as retarded children.”
– Alex Pacheco

“To those people who say, ‘My father is alive because of animal experimentation,’ I say, ‘Yeah, well, good for you. This dog died so your father could live.’ Sorry, but I am just not behind that kind of trade-off.”
– Bill Maher, PETA celebrity spokesman

“If the death of one rat cured all diseases, it wouldn’t make any difference to me.”
– Chris De Rose, director, Last Chance for Animals