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PETA put up a billboard urging Baltimore to stop eating crabs. It didn't exactly go over well.

PETA is coming after Baltimore’s beloved crab.

The animal rights group selected the local crustacean as the mascot for its latest pro-vegan campaign. A billboard in Baltimore pictures a crab with the words, “I’m me, not meat. See the individual. Go vegan.”

Danielle Ohl, a reporter for the Capital Gazette, tweeted a picture of the billboard Thursday, and it set off some strong reactions. (The Capital Gazette is part of the Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Locals took to Twitter to share their reactions to the billboard that was erected yesterday on the corner of East Baltimore Street near the Shot Tower. Jimmy’s Famous Seafood chimed in, too.

“I thought it was fake, honestly,” said Tony Minadakis, owner of the restaurant. “I was shocked. It was pretty tone-deaf.”

Kelly Diaz, 35, said she found the billboard “funny,” though she agreed it made a bold statement given its location.

“This is Baltimore and we are a city that has had great pride in our crabbing industry,” she said.

But Diaz, a 35-year-old attorney, said she doesn’t have an issue with vegetarian or vegan lifestyles, and has even tried — and enjoyed — a zucchini-based faux crab cake.

Vegan crab cakes happen to be having a bit of a moment in Baltimore right now, with the Land of Kush restaurant’s version being named one of the top 10 vegan seafood dishes nationwide, by none other than PETA.

The city is also in the middle of Vegan Restaurant Week. But the billboard was actually erected to engage local diners ahead of the Baltimore Seafood Festival in September, a PETA spokesperson said.

“This is exactly the point. We want people to look up and hopefully change what’s on their plate that day,” said Amber Canavan. “Our ad, it reminds people that crabs are not inanimate objects. They’re living, feeling individuals.”

PETA has placed similar billboards in other East Coast cities. The Maine International Jetport is the site of a lobster-themed pro-vegan advertisement.

Baltimore’s crab-themed billboard is the only one of its kind in Maryland, Canavan said.

The Norfolk, Va.-based organization wants to call attention to the way crabs are caught and cooked.

“PETA's billboard aims to give Charm City residents some food for thought about sparing sensitive marine animals the agony of being boiled alive or crushed to death in fishing nets simply by going vegan,” said Tracy Reiman, PETA executive vice president, in a statement.

Jimmy’s Seafood continued to take shots at the animal rights group Friday morning with a special good morning message.

llumpkin@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lauren_lumps

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