Introduction

We are now 10 months into the COVID-19 pandemic and this is a story that continues to shock me.

Recently I came across an amazing article that mapped in realtime the Covid-19 outbreaks in the US food system.

The data is staggering.

What this highlights is the numerous amounts of outbreaks of COVID-19 in meatpacking plants – and this continues even now. The real shocker is is that meatpacking plants have significantly more outbreaks than regular farms.

Meatpacking workers will most likely get Covid-19

The thing I like about this article is that it provides data that is updated weekly. See the complete article here.

This is an impressive data set, but it is heart wrenching to realize that the conditions that meatpacking workers toil in continues to be sub standard.

I’ve seen reports by Fault Lines discussing the matter and I’ve seen other news reports highlighting the alarming amount of COVID-19 deaths in meatpacking plants – but clearly the situation has not improved for the workers.

Workers in the meatpacking industry still experience higher incidence of contracting COVID-19 and hence stand a high chance of dying from it.

Who is to Blame

Whenever I watch the news reports about this issue, the focus always seems to be on labeling the companies as bad and not providing decent working conditions that protect workers.

It’s a blame game either focused on the companies or government.

While I do agree with this sentiment very much, I think this is not quite accurate.

Businesses work according to demand, and will do whatever it takes to increase profit and drive down costs – that is the nature of business. Similarly governments will try to stimulate the demand through incentives to increase short sighted measures like GDP.

But here’s the thing – it’s all demand driven and the consumer ultimately drives the demand.

If we as consumers demand meat, then there will be a meatpacking worker to perform that job to provide meat under horrendous conditions.

If we don’t demand meat, guess what, then there’s no need for a meat packing worker.

If we demand more fruits and vegetables that means more people work on farms where hardly any COVID-19 infections occur.

We are at fault when a meat packing work dies. It’s simple as that.

Blaming government and business is a cop out. We have the power and we must take responsibility.

We must stop consuming animal products

An article in MeatManagement.com provides a glimmer of hope.

It turns out that Sainsbury will be discontinuing their meat and deli counters because there has been a significant drop in meat sales over the years. COVID-19 has accelerated this trend significantly which makes so much sense.

More and more people are realizing that pandemics originate from the maltreatment of animals, so if we don’t eat meat, no more pandemics.

And no more pandemics means no more workers dying in horrific jobs.

I think we should all go further though.

I think that everyone on the planet should go Vegan. This will increase demand for fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds – moving workers to safer conditions where their lives are not put at risk.

Conclusion

Every time someone buys meat, someones life is put in danger, COVID-19 is prolonged and we risk having this disease mutate.

As the people we have the power to eradicate these types of diseases – but it requires that we as citizens and consumers act responsibly.

We’re all connected and our actions directly affect one another. If you buy meat, then someones life may be put at risk – it’s as plain as that.

But the solution is also as plain. Do not consume animals products, go Vegan and shift the industry towards safer crop farming and we will all reap the rewards.

Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash