There’s a very good reason why Neal Barnard and his immodestly self-named Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is trying to convince Americans to go vegetarian (“Veggie regime trumps meats,” DP, 3/4/03). And it has nothing to do with health.

Readers should know that PCRM is not a legitimate medical organization, but rather a front group for the animal rights movement. Neal Barnard isn’t even a nutritionist — he’s a psychiatrist, and a non-practicing one at that.

PETA (yes, that PETA) has already funded PCRM to the tune of over $850,000. The two groups share offices, staff and financial accounting as well. The animal rights watchdog newspaper Animal People News wrote in December that PCRM and PETA should be considered “a single fundraising unit” and accused the groups of attempting to “evade public recognition of their relationship.”

Ninety-five percent of PCRM’s members never graduated from medical school. The American Medical Association has called PCRM’s recommendations “irresponsible and potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans.” And PCRM has been formally censured by the AMA.

Most Ivy Leaguers are too smart to take dietary advice from animal-rights zealots. But when activists put on the sheep’s clothing of the medical profession, it becomes more and more difficult to tell who’s credible.