Robert - I agree that most people see PETA as fanatical. Why? Unfortunately, the media focuses on their more radical and controversial actions and campaigns and ignores most of the positive things they do. I know that is why I used to think of them as fanatical, even though I knew very little about them at that time.
As far as veg*nism goes, I don't think people turn down veg*nism because of PETA.
I think people aren't veg*n for the following reasons (just to name a few
1) I think many people are totally unaware exactly what goes on in factory farming - blissfully ignorant, and motivated to stay that way,
2) Even if they are made aware of the horrors of factory farming, many are ignorant of what they would eat as an alternative and figure it's just a necessary evil,
3) They are blitzed by ads from all directions of the M&D industry: McDs, Arby's, Olive Garden, on and on and on....and,
4) Everyone they know eats meat, so why should they change? To be an outcast?
The last thing they do is think "PETA is a bunch of starry-eyed radicals, so I'm not giving up meat."