Washington, DC – An animal-rights front group claiming to be a medical charity is offering phony nutrition advice on airport food, school lunches, and high-protein diets. The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom today called on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and its leader Neal Barnard to come clean about their ties to radical animal rights activists.

PCRM recently threatened legal action against doctors who prescribe high-protein, meat-oriented “Atkins” diets, and ran advertisements calling school lunches that include meat and milk “weapons of mass destruction.” As with PCRM’s many other pronouncements, these were animal-rights judgments masquerading as legitimate medical advice.

The American Medical Association calls PCRM’s recommendations “irresponsible” and “dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans.”

“Yet the group’s news releases have fooled television producers, newspaper editors, and even industry insiders,” said Center for Consumer Freedom research director David Martosko, “because they cloak their animal rights agenda in medical terms.”

Less than 5 percent of PCRM’s members are doctors, and PCRM has never made a list of physician-members available to the public. Neal Barnard, the group’s leader, is not a nutritionist, but a non-practicing psychiatrist.

PCRM has long-standing ties with PETA. Since 1999, PETA has used a private slush fund called the Foundation to Support Animal Protection (co-chaired by Barnard and PETA president Ingrid Newkirk) to funnel over $595,000 to PCRM. To date, more than $1.3 million has flowed to PCRM through PETA and other animal rights groups, including some with links to domestic terrorism.

“A vegetarian diet is a perfectly acceptable consumer choice,” added Martosko, “but any doctor who says that you absolutely must ‘go veg’ to be healthy probably has a hidden agenda. In the case of PCRM, it’s all about animal rights extremism. Would you take medical advice from PETA?”