Tag Archives: covid-19

Covid-19 harms both workers and animals

Slaughterhouses kill more than just animals. Meatpacking plants, along with prisons, have become the nation’s leading hot spots for the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Thousands of meatpacking workers have fallen ill, many have died. Virus outbreaks at meatpacking plants have lead to the virus spreading more widely in surrounding communities, said Nicholas Christakis, director of Yale University’s Human Nature Lab and a specialist in how contagion travels through social networks.

While we wrote back in June 2020 about Covid 19 spreading in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, we now know so much more about how the virus spreads in these places. Slaughterhouses and meat processing plants are favorable environments for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The virus thrives in lower temperatures and in very high or very low relative humidity. Metallic surfaces retain live viruses. Aerosols, densely combining dust, feathers, and feces, are produced in the plants, and intense water use carries materials extensively over surfaces. Workers must speak loudly or shout over the noise, releasing more droplets and spreading them further. Workplaces are crowded, and social distancing is difficult. The plight of the slaughterhouse workers was already dire, but this just puts another layer on their hardship.

The pandemic has also led to a massive increase in animal suffering. When the pandemic first hit, slaughterhouses across the nation were forced to close. Gruesome stories emerged of the mass killing of millions of chickens and pigs that could no longer be brought to market. Chickens sometimes had to be gassed or smothered with a foam in which they slowly suffocate. Among other methods, ready-for-market pigs, with cognitive abilities similar to dogs, that couldn’t be sold were killed by a method known as ventilation shutdown, in which the airways to a barn are closed off and steam is introduced. A whistleblower’s video shows thousands of pigs dying as they were slowly suffocated and roasted to death overnight.

Although the pandemic has focused attention on these incidents, they represent a tiny fraction of the daily abuses heaped on farmed animals. The billions of animals slaughtered every year in the United States are intelligent, sensitive beings capable of feeling a range of emotions. They are driven to raise their own young and form complex social communities, both impossible under the conditions of modern farming. Instead, they live short, painful, disease-ridden lives. Chickens, which make up over 90% of the animals slaughtered every year, suffer the worst. Their deaths are subject to effectively no federal regulation, meaning the birds are frequently frozen, boiled, drowned or suffocated to death.

Avoiding the consumption of meat, including chicken, would help alleviate many of these problems. By reducing the demand for meat, fewer workers would have to work in such awful conditions, and many fewer animals would be sent to the slaughterhouse.

A perfect storm created Covid-19

The COVID 19 pandemic seems to have arisen from a perfect storm. Eating animals, wearing their fur, keeping wild animals in zoos, and having an unnatural relationship with nature have created the perfect storm. With human to human transmission, that storm has become a hurricane.

COVID 19 is a zoonosis. Zoonotic diseases are illnesses that can spread between animals and people. The flu and Ebola are also zoonoses. While scientist are still trying to understand the origin of the virus, it appears that it originated in bats. Bats are eaten in China and so are pangolins. The virus could have infected people directly or through intermediate animals, possibly pangolins or a combination of both. It begs the question, what are we doing eating these animals? Is it worth the amount it is costing us and the rest of humanity?

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Covid-19 adds to stress on slaughterhouse workers

Meat packers Covid

COVID-19 is having a big impact on slaughterhouse workers, whose job is already considered the most dangerous in the country.  The rate of slaughterhouse worker injury is now triple that of other manufacturing and processing jobs. Slaughterhouse worker injuries run the gamut of everything from repetitive motion injuries, to serious cuts and amputations, to a high incidence of certain cancers and autoimmune diseases that are strongly associated with handling meat. Human Rights Watch concludes that slaughterhouse workers have the most dangerous job in America, and even the US Government Accountable Office (USGAO) says that they face much greater risks than other workers. Read more

Helping the hungry with vegetarian food

Community Solidarity

Vegetarians are doing their part during the COVID 19 pandemic. Volunteers from Community Solidarity — the country’s largest all-vegetarian hunger relief food program — distributed tens of thousands of pounds of groceries in Hempstead, New York, recently as part of its growing effort to help people in need.  Several other regions in New York were also served.

Organizers with the nonprofit said they have watched demand skyrocket as more families face issues of hunger and food insecurity, due to the economic fallout from COVID-19.  “We have never seen this before,” said Jon Stepanian, chief executive at Community Solidarity. “Some of the families are in tears when they come to us.” While the nonprofit has been providing food relief for years, organizers are now reaching thousands more families. The organization used to serve 3,000 families directly and is now serving 10,000, Stepanian said.

In normal times, Community Solidarity assists thousands of families each week by sharing free nutritious vegetarian groceries and hot gourmet vegan meals. These plant-based foods are healthier than anything offered by mainstream food banks. They’re also more compassionate and more sustainable. Their cruelty-free mission is simple. By promoting a vegan diet, and sharing vegetarian groceries, they save animals. By empowering communities, and ending hunger, they help people.

Plant-based diet lowers risk of severe COVID-19

Coronavirus ward - low res

Based on preliminary U.S. data, persons with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and chronic kidney disease, have a higher risk for severe COVID-19 disease than persons without these conditions. For instance, in New York 86% of all deaths so far have been among people who had underlying illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, new state data shows.

This is where following a plant-based diet can offer a big advantage. It reduces the risk of type II diabetes by 78% and is over twice as effective in treating type 2 diabetes as the leading drug, metformin. Meanwhile a plant based diet can lower the risk of heart disease by 40% and relieves the pain of angina 91%. Those following a plant based diet have a 75% reduced risk of chronic kidney disease and can avoid needing dialysis.

By having lower risks of these diseases, people can expect a lower risk of severe COVID 19.

Grocery shopping tips during the COVID-19 pandemic

Here are a few tips for safely getting your groceries during COVID 19 (coronavirus) pandemic:

In the grocery store

Grocery shopping with maskIf you’re going to the grocery store, try to go when it’s not crowded. Since the virus can be transmitted through close contact with other individuals, the key to social distancing is by avoiding large groups of people. But if you don’t get your timing right and find yourself at the grocery store with a lot of people, get what you need and leave as soon as you can. Don’t dally! Read more

Pandemics start by eating animals

Covid 19 poster

Diseases that come to humans from animals are called zoonoses. The current corona virus epidemic, as well as the Flu, Ebola and other diseases, all started by eating animals, thus exposing humans to viruses that emerge from animals. Once that happens, the virus can spread from person to person, as well as from animals, and a pandemic can start.

In Wuhan, China, the alarmingly contagious virus currently spreading around the world, has been identified as a zoonotic coronavirus, similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus, and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus. This marks the third re-emergence this century of a zoonotic coronavirus.

Public health officials suspect that the current outbreak may have originated at a live-animal market in Wuhan. Selling and eating wild animals, disrupting ecosystems, and destroying forests all contribute to the risks of disease-causing viruses spreading into human populations. Read more