Slaughterhouse Workers Given the Opportunity to Make Vegan Meat

A protester outside the Smithfield Foods meat processing plant
A protester outside the Smithfield Foods meat processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Photo: PETA.

The novel coronavirus pandemic and other deadly diseases have devastated pig- and bird-flesh supplies – what better time to overhaul this filthy industry?

Forget worrying about a “meat shortage.” Dirty processing plants and meat markets threaten the health of every human on the planet. In response, PETA has offered to help retrain employees of various meatpacking companies – free of charge – to produce vegan meats.

Earlier this month, 32,000 turkeys were killed at a South Carolina farm after an outbreak of deadly bird flu sickened them and endangered workers. Last week, a Smithfield Foods pig slaughterhouse in South Dakota closed because nearly 300 of its employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

A Cargill meat-processing plant in Pennsylvania closed, too, after its employees reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus. The company also announced that it will close an egg factory because of decreased demand and cut back hours at a cow slaughterhouse.

At a Tyson plant in Tennessee, 90 workers recently tested positive for the coronavirus.

Besides viruses, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” developing on farms have worried scientists for years. Nearly 80% of meat in U.S. supermarkets contains some form of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. While many people can carry around the superbugs without realizing it, others have experienced skin irritation, life-threatening infections such as pneumonia, and blood poisoning.

We know that COVID-19 originated in a meat market and that previous influenza viruses originated in pigs and chickens. It’s not a matter of whether using and killing animals for food will give rise to another disease outbreak—it’s a matter of when.

There has never been a better, more obvious time for businesses to put an end to their dirty trade of slaughtering animals for their flesh.

Companies such as Tyson, Smithfield Foods, Perdue, and Hormel already have their foot in the door when it comes to plant-based markets, because they already sell vegan meats. These companies – and other flesh-sellers like them – should plan long-term by rethinking their entire business model and reopening facilities as safe, clean, disease-free vegan meat factories.

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