What do McDonalds and Burger King have in common, other than monster shares of the fast food market? Both can brag--or shudder--about having PETA on their list of shareholders. Michael Crumb of the Los Angeles Times reports that PETA has spent the past seven year buying shares of at least 80 companies, including McDonald, Burger King, and Kraft Foods. According to Crumb, PETA hopes to "influence their animal welfare policies on such things as how chickens are slaughtered or buying pork from suppliers that keep pregnant sows in small crates. By buying stock, PETA is guaranteed the right to present its ideas directly to officials and other shareholders, many of whom would otherwise likely pay little attention to the group."

While an odd pairing, PETA's efforts have yielded significant results, according to an interview between Crumb and PETA senior campaigner Ashley Byrne: "After PETA bought stock, Safeway grocery stores and restaurant companies Ruby Tuesday, Sonic and Burger King agreed to give purchasing preference to suppliers that abide by what the group says are more humane rules, such as not confining chickens and hogs in small cages." As Crumb observes, PETA's move towards "traditional" influence in the boardroom is starkly contrasted with PETA's past tactics of "sending out scantily clad demonstrators to protest fur" and other "provocative stunts."

(For a refresher on other PETA highlights, see the organization's Groundhog Day protest and misguided praise of Avatar's animated beasts.)