Coronavirus Cases Prompt ‘Meat Kills’ Billboard

PETA Points Out That Animal Markets, Transport, and Slaughter Are Linked to All Flu-Like Viruses

For Immediate Release:
February 21, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Omaha, Neb. – As 11 patients with coronavirus are now quarantined at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, PETA plans to place a billboard near the hospital that warns, “Meat Kills—Go Vegan,” and lists a litany of public health threats associated with using animals for food. The coronavirus is known to have originated in a market in Wuhan, China—a “wet market” where live and dead animals are sold for human consumption. In this case, pangolins and bats were sold for soup, but it’s not the first time such viruses have been traced back to live animals—most commonly pigs and chickens—who were confined, shipped, killed, and eaten.

“Filthy factory farms, slaughterhouses, and meat markets threaten the health of every human being on the planet by providing a breeding ground for deadly diseases like coronavirus, SARS, bird flu, and others,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA urges everyone to take the message seriously and protect themselves from fatal conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and others by avoiding meat like the plague.”

In addition to carrying a high risk of contamination from pathogens—including E. coli, campylobacter, and salmonella—meat contains no fiber and is packed with artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vegans are far less prone to suffering from heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer than meat-eaters are.

How to reduce your food’s carbon footprint, in 2 charts–The answer is not “eat local.”

A shopkeeper surveys fresh fruit and vegetables at a food market in Istanbul.
A shopkeeper surveys fresh fruit and vegetables at a food market in Istanbul.
 Tim Graham/Getty Images

“Eat local.” It’s a recommendation you’ve probably heard before. Environmental advocates and even the United Nations have hyped a “locavore” diet as a way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the climate. The basic idea is that more transportation leads to more emissions, so you want to reduce the distance your food has to travel to get to you.

And certainly, if you can eat local, that’s great. But it’s not the most effective way to reduce your food’s carbon footprint.

The website Our World in Data recently explained, with some great charts, why your focus should really be elsewhere.

“Eating locally would only have a significant impact if transport was responsible for a large share of food’s final carbon footprint. For most foods, this is not the case,” writes Hannah Ritchie. “Emissions from transportation make up a very small amount of the emissions from food and what you eat is far more important than where your food traveled from.”

Take a look at the chart below, which examines 29 different food products, from beef to nuts, and breaks down how much greenhouse gas emissions each stage in the supply chain is responsible for. The data comes from the biggest meta-analysis of worldwide food systems we’ve got so far, published in Science in 2018.

Our World in Data

As you can see, the share of emissions from transport (shown in red) is generally pretty tiny; the distance our food travels to get to us actually accounts for less than 10 percent of most food products’ carbon footprint. Processes on farms (shown in brown) and changes in land use (shown in green) typically account for much more of the emissions from our food.

Translation: What you eat is much more important than whether your food is local.

So, next time you find yourself trying to choose between a couple of different dinner options — local prawns versus non-local fish, let’s say — remember that from an emissions standpoint, the fish is the better choice even though it comes from farther away.

It can be hard to know which products in your grocery store are air-freighted, since they’re almost never labeled as such. But a good rule of thumb is to avoid fresh fruits and vegetables that have a short shelf-life and that come from far away (check the label for their country of origin). Berries, green beans, and asparagus are examples of foods that are often air-freighted. Locally sourced berries, green beans, and asparagus, though, have a low carbon footprint.

What about “sustainable meat” versus plant-based foods?

At this point, you might be wondering where plant-based foods fit into all this. With so many grocery stores and restaurants now selling Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, it’s reasonable to wonder about the carbon footprint of products made from protein sources other than meat.

Some have argued that you can have a lower footprint if you eat beef or lamb sourced from low-impact producers than if you switch to plant-based alternatives. But the evidence suggests that’s just not true.

“Plant-based foods emit fewer greenhouse gases than meat and dairy, regardless of how they are produced,” Ritchie writes.

Here’s another chart, which shows that less meat is nearly always better than sustainable meat when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. The data comes from the same 2018 meta-analysis mentioned above, which considered the food systems in 119 countries.

Our World in Data

As you can see, beef and lamb are way over on one extreme in terms of the amount of emissions they produce. By contrast, plant-based protein sources like tofu, beans, peas, and nuts have a very low carbon footprint.

“This is certainly true when you compare average emissions. But it’s still true when you compare the extremes: there’s not much overlap in emissions between the worst producers of plant proteins, and the best producers of meat and dairy,” Ritchie notes.

Translation: Eating plant-based food is almost always going to be better for the environment than eating even the most sustainable meat.

That said, it’s worth noting that some types of meat are much harsher on the environment than others. Replacing beef or lamb with chicken or pork — again, regardless of where you get the products from — is an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint.

This is all coming strictly from an emissions standpoint, mind you. It doesn’t take into account animal welfare. Perhaps you think the welfare of animals like pigs, which show signs of high intelligence, is an important consideration here; if so, you might think it’s a bad idea to substitute pork for other types of meat. And we have to slaughter about 200 chickens to get the same amount of meat we’d get from one cow, which raises environmental as well as animal welfare concerns.

There are multiple factors to consider when making food choices, and your final decision may shake out differently depending on how you weight each of them.

Disney parks expand vegan food options and they’re delicious

 (just don’t call them ‘vegan’)

David G. Allan, CNN • Updated 14th February 2020
Editor’s Note — David Allan, editorial director for Features at CNN, has been a vegetarian for more than 25 years and Star Wars fan for 40 years. This is the first time those two priorities have intersected. The views expressed here about Disney’s plant-based options are his own.
Orlando, Florida (CNN) — The self-described “happiest place on Earth” is getting increasingly happier for animals, and for those who are increasingly removing those animals from their diet.
After a big push last fall, the resort development division of Walt Disney World in Florida has identified more than 400 new and proven “plant-based” options on the menus of all its food locations, including park restaurants, food carts and hotel properties. That’s 580 locations in Disney World alone. And a similar effort is underway at the Disneyland park and resort in Anaheim, California.
Just don’t call these non-meat, non-dairy, non-honey options “vegan.”
“Most research shows that the word ‘vegan’ appeals to vegans but the trend is much broader than that,” explained Cheryl Dolven, a manager for food and beverage health and wellness with Walt Disney World Resort Development, Optimization and Standardization.
“‘Plant-based’ is much more broadly appealing,” Dolven added.
“I get it, ‘vegan’ sounds weird,” I said to Dolven, who politely didn’t disagree.
“Plant-based” can be defined more loosely than vegan, says CNN Health contributor and nutritionist Lisa Drayer. But Disney defines their “plant-based” options as “made without animal meal, dairy, eggs and honey,” according to their website, meeting the commonly accepted definition of vegan.
Like many of Disney's food offerings, some of the vegan dishes are themed to match their location. This hummus dish served at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is called a "Felucian Garden Spread," a reference to a planet covered in overgrown plants in the Star Wars universe.

Like many of Disney’s food offerings, some of the vegan dishes are themed to match their location. This hummus dish served at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is called a “Felucian Garden Spread,” a reference to a planet covered in overgrown plants in the Star Wars universe.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s a smart move to capitalize on a trend that’s already impacting the restaurant and hospitality industry across the country. Restaurant sales of alternative meat products jumped 268% last year, according to the Dining Alliance, a US industry group.
Disney was also hearing directly from its own visitors, who were noting dietary restrictions in their reservations, buying more meat-free options, and giving feedback in guest surveys asking for vegan options. It all became a growing chorus asking the resorts to embrace a growing vegetarian and vegan appetite.
The company is also trying to appeal to younger guests, the future of Disney, as well as its own cast members who adhere to plant-based diets, Dolven added.

The proof is in the tasting

It’s one thing to offer more hummus and carrot sticks. It’s another to invest and innovate in alternatives that appeal to the diverse interests of those who are vegan and may still crave the taste of meat, chocolate, pastries and ice cream.
Disney chose the latter. Its in-house Flavor Lab, a research and development facility used to create and test new menu items, tasked its chefs to reeducate themselves. They took trips to vegan (sorry, plant-based) restaurants in New York and Philadelphia. They began hunting for and developing replacements for mayonnaise, butter, yogurt, cheese and eggs.
Generally, “chefs aren’t trained that way,” said Gary Jones, a culinary dietary specialist at Walt Disney World. “A lot of us are going back and relearning how to extract the most flavor from plant-based choices.”
Jones then led me through a sampling of some of that research and development.
The most impressive of the offerings was the seafood platter on the menu at the Toledo restaurant located at Coronado Springs Resort. The creations mimicked a mouth-feel — flavor, texture and other sensations — I’d been craving over the more than 25 years I’ve been a vegetarian.
The royal trumpet mushroom-based “scallop” was tender and buttery. The breaded fungi “calamari” was tangy and chewy. But it was the heart of palm-based “crab cake” that was personally moving.
I was born and raised in Maryland, baptized in Old Bay seasoning. I’ve never found a fake crab that wasn’t fish. And the Toledo’s crab cake was just how I’ve long dreamed non-seafood crab could be, the taste evoking childhood memories.
All over the Disney World parks and hotel restaurants, new menus rolled out in the fall feature a green leaf icon next to items that are plant-based. And while the company’s website has a new page featuring plant-based meal options, Disney’s vegan fans have created their own guides with a lot more detail and reviews.
And when it comes to Disney’s plant-based options, one size doesn’t fit all. Most of the new options are unique to a location’s theme and cuisine type.
The rustic-looking PizzeRizzo in Hollywood Studios serves a thick and juicy spicy Italian “sausage” sub, the same cost as their meatball sub. The African themed Mara restaurant in the Animal Kingdom Lodge has a Marrakesh Falafel Platter served with soy yogurt. Epcot’s Rose & Crown Dining Room, for example, has a vegan version of the traditional UK breakfast of bangers and mash available upon request. Hollywood Studios’ fancy Brown Derby serves a popular vegan chocolate-coconut cake, the same price as the espresso cheesecake and chocolate mousse cake.

And they ate happily ever after

I sampled other options in the Orlando parks, uncovering a not-so-hidden world of vegan, er, plant-based dining.
In Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars land, I adored the Felucian Garden Spread, with plant-based spicy “kefta” meatballs and hummus and tomato-cucumber relish with pita bread, served in a skillet and actual metal silverware. The kefta was meaty-chewy and filling, the hummus thick with herbs. Jones said its one of the best sellers among the stellar offerings at the boisterous Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. Felucia is a jungle planet that makes a brief appearance in “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.”
On the other end of the culinary spectrum, the ABC Commissary in Orlando’s Hollywood Studios served a thick and delicious vegan California Burger with sautéed peppers, vegan mayo ketchup and a Sriracha mustard, served with a side of perfectly crisp shoestring fries. It cost $2 more than their traditional cheeesburger. I didn’t see any vegan dessert options, so I asked the woman taking orders if there were any. She looked confused and politely answered, “No, I don’t think so,” which the Disney public relations department later confirmed.
And I made a hearty dinner of the Southwest Bowl at the Fairfax Fare stand in Hollywood Studios. The bowl is a well crafted blend of chili, corn and vegan cheese, topped with non-dairy ranch dressing and crunchy tortilla chips. It costs the same as their comparable bowl with chicken.
I also noticed some locations not meeting the claim that all food locations have plant-free options. The Dockside Diner, near the Fairfax Fare didn’t have any plant-based options on its menu of hot dogs and nachos.
But Disney is getting there. Disneyland will get its big plant-based push this spring. And properties in Europe and Asia have many plant-based options but no current plans to overhaul their menus (visitor demand could affect that decision).
Given the planners’ careful eye on sales, it’s clear that the more Disney guests who choose vegetarian and plant-based options, the more options they can expect. After all, this is a hospitality brand famous for its innovation and for perpetually reinventing itself, and that extends to its dining choices.
“It’s been great to see the reception we’ve seen from the guests,” said Jones of the new plant-based options. “They are ordering more than we thought and influencing other guests. And our chefs are a lot more inspired and excited about it.”
As should vegetarian and vegan guests.

Brad Pitt jabs GOP in Oscars acceptance speech, Joaquin Phoenix talks animal rights

Several Oscar winners took the opportunity to inject politics into Sunday night’s festivities, starting with the telecast’s first famous victor, Brad Pitt, who took a shot at Republican senators who voted against calling witnesses at President Trump’s impeachment trial.

The four-time Academy Award nominee won the best-supporting actor accolade for his role as a stuntman in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” The win marked his first-ever Academy Award win for acting. He immediately took the stage and got political by taking a jab at senators who voted against Democrats’ requests to call new witnesses in the impeachment trial, specifically former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who claimed he was willing to testify.


“They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” Pitt said. “I’m thinking maybe Quentin [Tarantino] does a movie about it. In the end, the adults do the right thing.”

No new witnesses were called in Trump’s impeachment trial, for which he was ultimately acquitted by the Senate in a vote across party lines, with the exception of a lone Republican vote to convict coming from Sen. Mitt Romney.


Pitt had been expected to win the category after scooping up a series of honors this year, including at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week

— Brad Pitt

Speaking backstage, the actor explained why he included a political jab in his Oscars acceptance speech.

“I was really disappointed with this week,” he told reporters. “And I think when gamesmanship trumps doing the right thing, it’s a sad day and I don’t think we should let it slide, and I’m very serious about that.”

Pitt was not the only actor to politicize his comments as Joaquin Phoenix used his lengthy, emotional best actor acceptance speech to discuss, among other things, the state of humanity, and the plight of cows.

"We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby," Phoenix said after winning the Oscar for best actor. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby,” Phoenix said after winning the Oscar for best actor. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) (Getty)

“I think whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against the belief, one nation, one race, one gender, or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity,” the animal-rights activist said.

“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow,” Phoenix continued. “And when she gives birth, we steal her baby even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable and then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”

Julia Reichert, left, and Steven Bognar accept the award for best documentary feature for "American Factory." (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Julia Reichert, left, and Steven Bognar accept the award for best documentary feature for “American Factory.” (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Even socialist revolutionary Karl Marx was mentioned in a speech by Julia Reichert, the co-director of the Barack and Michelle Obama-produced Best Documentary winner “American Factory.”

Reichert concluded her speech with a paraphrase of the “Communist Manifesto,” written by Marx and Frederich Engels, stating “[W]e believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite.”

Pitt’s politically driven tone was significantly different than previous wins, where he kept it light with jokes and breezy speeches. Pitt was more somber on Sunday, calling his win “incredible” as his peers cheered.

The actor plays the stunt double of an aging cowboy actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio, a best actor nominee, in Quentin Tarantino’s 1969 Hollywood fable.


“‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ ain’t that the truth,” an emotional Pitt said before he thanked his children, Tarantino and DiCaprio.

“I’ll ride on your coattails any day,” he concluded of his co-star. “The view’s fantastic.”

Brad Pitt accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Brad Pitt accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)