American non-profit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals stirred up a hornet’s nest on social media on Wednesday after it proposed a list of alternatives to common phrases and idioms that reference violence against members of the animal kingdom. PETA argued that it was time to recognise “speciesism”, or anti-animal phrases in daily conversations.

However, the essence seemed to have been lost in the messaging, with a lion’s share of social media users finding much fodder for humour, sarcasm and most of all, animals puns, in PETA’s post. Among PETA’s proposals was to replace the phrase “Bring home the bacon” with “Bring home the bagels” and “Beat a dead horse” to “Feed a fed horse”.

Some on Facebook and Twitter pointed out the fallacy in some of PETA’s proposed phrases.

Some wondered about the fate of other idioms.

Several tongue-in-cheek alternatives were proposed.

Many criticised the premise altogether, considering it futile. A common refrain was that PETA should have had “bigger fish to fry”.

A social media user pointed out that there were many anti-human phrases too, which might need correction next. A few others criticised PETA for not taking into account the feelings of plants, who had replaced bulls in the revised list.

Others racked their brains for all the animal phrases they could think of.

Amid the jokes was some more serious backlash against PETA for a follow-up tweet that seemingly equated anti-animal language with concerns like racism, homophobia and ableism. Some also pointed to previous controversies surrounding PETA, including criticism over its euthanisation statistics.

In response to the criticism over seemingly conflating issues, PETA spokesperson Ashley Byrne told Washington Post that it was “not a competition”. She added,Our compassion does not need to be limited. Teaching people to be kind to animals only helps in terms of encouraging them to be practice kindness in general.”