We cannot continue to ignore the threat to human health from diseases originating in animal exploitation. If you are reading this from your home where you are forced to hang out with your family 24/7 or alone and have only Zoom parties as your social contact, then you should have a little understanding about why we are in this situation so you can be part of the solution now and when we finally get out of this global pandemic.
What we must acknowledge now is that while public health experts, veterinarians, and global institutions tasked with understanding and preventing zoonotic diseases have identified over 50 common diseases transferred from animals to humans, the public discourse remains focused on how we can continue to maintain the status quo of livestock production and consumption while keeping the rates of infection and death down for these endemic and epidemic diseases. However, if we are to make any real impact on the problem, the conversation needs to be about eliminating the demand for animal production industries and providing alternative livelihoods for producers. We continue to speak of meeting the demand for animal products and attempting to regulate them well enough globally so that less humans die from zoonotic diseases. The scientific reality is that this is IMPOSSIBLE and we are playing with fire.
The demand for animal products increases as wealth increases, so as individuals and societies experience economic growth, more and more animals are raised and killed for consumption. Meat consumption continues to be seen as a status symbol for many and is often wrongly thought of as a nutritional necessity. This has to change if we are going to make a difference in the demand for animal agriculture which has a detrimental effect on billions of land animals, trillions of sea animals, the environment, AND human health!
Yet why is this not being discussed by the large organizations tasked with the protection of animals? Why is it that the largest “animal advocacy” organizations cannot say the word “vegan”? Why do the RSPCA, HSUS, HSI, World Animal Protection, ASPCA, Four Paws International, Animals Australia, and many, many more feel it is more important to protect farmer’s livelihoods than the animals, the environment, and public health??? Why do those who say dog meat must be banned will only say that sheep farming must be better regulated, pigs and chickens should have more space, and beef cattle should eat more grass all before they are needlessly slaughtered at a fraction of their natural lifespan for products no human needs? Why are international organizations like the UN saying the best way to combat climate change is to change to a vegan diet, yet it’s own Food and Agriculture Organization continues to support initiatives to promote animal agriculture?
The reality is that we can support animals, the environment, human health, AND farmers’ and fishermen’s livelihoods by being honest about the implications of animal consumption on an international and local level in both the government and private sector. We have a moral obligation to end the demand for animal consumption. Switching from animal production to plant-based agriculture is possible on a global scale if we work to reduce the demand on animal products through honest marketing and by providing the necessary support for farmers to switch their production to foods that nourish rather than harm society. Veganic
agriculture (crop production without animal inputs like manure) is possible on a global scale if we commit the resources to this shift. This will take an integrated international effort, something we are getting quite used to as we watch countries’ health systems fall like dominoes while we battle this pandemic.
What can YOU do?
As a start, pressure the large organizations to apply their own logic about ending exploitation of the species cute enough to get donations to the species people regularly exploit and murder needlessly in far higher numbers than the bears, dolphins, baby seals, and doggies that get donor attention. Pressure international development organizations to STOP using animal exploitation as a livelihood development strategy. Ask your own government to own up to its climate change policies and stand against the farmers’ lobbies for the good of their entire constituency rather than being the bitch of the fat cat lawyers protecting industries that are murdering billions and putting us all at risk.
We all have a say in this pandemic. We all have a say in this one and the next dozen or so that will happen in our lifetimes. We all have the power individually to end climate change, animal exploitation, and public health disasters like the one we are facing now. Stop acting like it is someone else’s job and get off your ass and do something (inside your home, of course…)!
What can VAAR do about this?
For one, we are unapologetically vegan in everything we do. This means that we do not consume animals products on our properties. We also are outspoken as an organization about the reality of animal agriculture being a main driver of climate change, pandemics, and animal suffering– something we all have a choice to not participate in. We reject the notion of the large welfare organizations that going vegan is difficult and that not eating meat one day a week would ever begin to make a dent on the depth of the crises we face both as a species and for the entire planet. We know that being vegan 24/7 is a moral imperative for the animals and everyone sharing the earth, a position that continues to ruffle feathers even in the middle of a zoonotic pandemic. We pressure the organizations and spokespeople with the largest audiences to be morally consistent in their messaging and put out FACTS rather than donor-centric fluff pieces that protect their finances over the the future of our planet. We focus on the peer-reviewed scientific literature rather than social media memes and the farmers’ lobbyists in regard to the greatest threats to global food security, the state of environmental degradation, the way forward for crop-based agriculture, and the protection of animal health. We know that the proven ways to PREVENT these effects from animal production are through a vegan lifestyle which protects ALL species of animals and we encourage our fans and our opponents to adapt their habits to reflect their own values.
For more information about zoonoses, the correlation between smallholder livestock production and poverty, and how we can STOP these sorts of epidemics while protecting global food security, I will keep adding article links below as I gather them.