Go Vegan or the Penguin Gets It: Avian Flu in Antarctica Should Concern Us All

Posted on by Dan H

Following news that the lethal H5N1 strain of avian influenza has been detected in the Antarctic for the first time, PETA’s new billboard is asking chicken-eaters to think twice. The ad depicts a baby penguin running from a giant fork and reads, “Eat a Chicken and the Penguin Gets It. Factory Farms Are Incubators for Deadly Diseases Which Are Killing Wild Birds.”

A 2022 report confirmed that highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses originated in industries that raise birds for food. The Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds has consistently warned that the confinement of birds on farms allows avian viruses not only to spread but also to mutate, while the World Health Organization lists bird flu as a major pandemic threat. Most “conversion events” – wherein a not-very-pathogenic avian flu strain becomes much more dangerous – occur in commercial poultry systems, and more of these events have taken place in Australia than in China.

Australian law allows chickens raised for their flesh to be housed at a maximum density of around 14 birds per square metre, not even giving them enough space to stretch their wings. An investigation into Baiada, which supplies Steggles and the Lilydale “free-range” brand, documented egregious cruelty and that the bodies of dead birds as well as sick and dying birds were left among their cage-mates.

PETA’s billboard, placed cheekily close to a certain notorious bucket sign on the ever-busy Old Windsor Road in Sydney, is reminding Australians that an appetite for chicken flesh drives the growth of filthy, crowded industrial poultry farms, which act as giant Petri dishes for viral mutation.

November Is World Vegan Month

From deadly viruses to the bushfires and rainforest blazes fuelled by the climate catastrophe, eating animals has near-apocalyptic consequences. The best thing you can do for your own health and the world we live in is to go vegan right now.

If you aren’t already vegan, take the first step towards helping animals, protecting the environment, and boosting your health by signing up for PETA’s Vegan Challenge. Over the next 30 days, we’ll send you e-mails with information and tips on vegan living.