Pamela Anderson's risque advertisement promoting vegetarianism has proven just a tad too sexy -- even for Montreal, a city long celebrated for its sultry side.

The former Baywatch star was denied a permit to publicly launch her latest animal-rights campaign after city officials got a peek at the partial nudity in the ad poster.

In that PETA ad, Anderson's bikini-clad body is marked up like a butcher's diagram, with parts of her flesh stencilled with labels like "breast," "round," and "rump."

The caption reads: "All animals have the same parts. Have a heart -- Go vegetarian."

In a statement, Anderson called the move surprisingly puritanical for a city whose strip clubs have long been a favoured destination of international tourists.

But a municipal official said Anderson and the animal-rights group PETA can still hold their event Thursday if they want to: the catch is they won't have the city's formal blessing.

Montreal film commissioner Daniel Bissonnette, whose office denied the permit, called it a difficult situation.

"On one hand we're working for an organization where we're getting reminded on a daily basis that we should work in a sexism-free environment and that equality between men and women and the image of women is very important," Bissonnette said.

"On the other hand, it's not our intention at all to prevent people from going in the public domain and sharing their message."

Anderson, who is in town to perform at the Just for Laughs comedy festival, had hoped to launch the campaign at a public square in front of Montreal's city hall.

The plans were nixed by city officials in an email to PETA -- a group Anderson often works with.

In the email, a city official called the advertisement sexist and not something Montreal could endorse.

"We, as public officials representing a municipal government, cannot endorse this image of Ms. Anderson," wrote Josee Rochefort, an official in charge of issuing permits with the city's television and film office.

"It is not so much controversial as it goes against all principles public organisations are fighting for in the everlasting battle of equality between men and women."

Anderson was expected to launch the campaign Thursday at another event instead -- a previously scheduled news conference at a Montreal restaurant where she planned to promote her comedy-festival appearance. Anderson is hosting a gala on Thursday evening.

A PETA spokeswoman said a decision would be taken later on whether or not to reschedule the public outdoor event.

The Canadian-American television star is no stranger to controversial social causes.

Anderson has been affiliated with PETA for years and has appeared in a number of its attention-grabbing promotional campaigns. She is an outspoken opponent of Canada's seal hunt.

The ex-Playboy Playmate was travelling to Montreal late Wednesday and was not immediately available for comment.

But in a statement, she called the city's decision a farce.

"In a city that is known for its exotic dancing and for being progressive and edgy, how sad that a woman would be banned from using her own body in a political protest," Anderson said.

"In some parts of the world, women are forced to cover their whole bodies with burqas -- is that next? I didn't think that Canada would be so puritanical."

Meanwhile, Dan Mathews, a PETA official who will be in Montreal, said the city is confusing "sexy" with "sexist".