As COVID-19 restrictions ease around Australia, PETA members dressed in biohazard suits to protest in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall, urging people to ditch meat in order to help avoid future pandemics.
Activists held signs reading, “Meat Kills” and “Prevent Pandemics: Go Vegan,” while TV screens behind them showed footage of local factory farms and abattoirs.
As our lives return to (somewhat) normal as cases of COVID-19 in Australia decline, it would be all too easy to forget what caused the worldwide health crisis in the first place. Experts believe the virus originated at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in China, a place that sells live and dead animals, including fish, birds, badgers, bats, pangolins, and turtles for human consumption.
It’s no wonder that a deadly virus flourished in such an environment, with so many stressed, terrified animals in such close conditions.
But factory farms and abattoirs in Australia are really no different, and in fact, the types of animals most commonly connected to viral outbreaks in humans are chickens and pigs. Australia is home to countless farms on which chickens are crammed together inside small cages and pigs are packed in faeces-ridden sheds as well as abattoirs, where these animals are killed on floors soaked with blood, urine, and other bodily fluids.
Overall, 75% of recently emerged infectious diseases affecting humans were transmitted from other animals.
In a paper published in 2018, Belgian spatial epidemiologist Marius Gilbert found that Australia had generated more instances of historical “conversion events” – in which a not-very-pathogenic avian flu strain suddenly becomes dangerous to humans – than China, where COVID-19 originated.
Animals used for food aren’t responsible for zoonotic diseases – these outbreaks are a human problem. Human actions towards other animals have created multiple global health crises. It’s time for us to change.
To prevent future pandemics like COVID-19, we must end the demand for animal flesh entirely.
You can help prevent future pandemics by ridding your diet of meat, dairy, and eggs. Take our vegan pledge and eat as if all our lives depend on it, because they do.
Meanwhile, PETA is urging the World Health Organization to shut down live-animal markets. Will you join us?