Tue., July 7, 2020
Have you checked on your vegan friend lately?
Try looking on cloud nine, just down the road from El Dorado, a few miles past the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Odds are, they’re still there – in paradise. Why? Because a pro-plant-based hashtag was trending on Twitter. Trending – during COVID-19, police brutality, protesting and heartache, on a platform subjugated by a sniveling, angry man in the high castle: #theendofmeatishere.
It all started when the New York Times story – aptly headlined “The End of Meat Is Here” – was able to briefly capture the ADHD-ridden spotlight of modern social media, leading to a whirlwind of pro- and (mostly) anti-vegan sentiment.
It did what others before it were unable: It succinctly and methodically laid out all the benefits of a plant-based diet while simultaneously dismantling several myths. Such as that we need animal protein (we don’t), or that farmers would suffer most if we allowed the factory farming system to collapse (they wouldn’t).
The part that struck me most, though, was its assertion around meat’s role in COVID-19 – and how the pandemic might not exist without it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic – meaning they spread from animal to human, the primary avenue being consumption.
Remember the 2002 SARS outbreak? The World Health Organization linked it to some sort of animal, though its origin is uncertain. How about the bird flu? Swine flu? A mystery their source is not.
What’s more, our broken relationship with animal consumption keeps finding its way into our other foods. In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration investigated factory-farmed cows as a source of a massive E. coli contamination of lettuce. E. coli is a bacterium that primarily lives in intestines.
According to a study of U.S. Department of Agriculture data on factory farms in Yuma County in Arizona by foodandwaterwatch.org, “Samples of nearby irrigation canal water tested positive for the same strain of E. coli that caused the outbreak. The canal is close to a CAFO that can hold more than 100,000 head of cattle at any one time.”
And while the industry has discovered clever workarounds for E. coli in the beef itself – mostly by washing the meat in ammonia before it’s shipped – we still deal with massive food recalls like clockwork.
That’s all to say, we can