Note — May 24, 2020

The End of Meat Is Here

Second “the end of” article in a row, sorry about that. Jonathan Safran Foer with lots of numbers we know about, indicating that humanity and especially western societies, needs to cut meat eating as much as possible, ideally completely. For humane reasons, for the working poor, for racial justice, and for climate change. A useful revisit of those numbers since we are living through a pandemic, which is the other reason to stop eating meat: reduce the risks of the next one.

According to The Economist, a quarter of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 say they are vegetarians or vegans, which is perhaps one reason sales of plant-based “meats” have skyrocketed. […]

We cannot claim to care about the humane treatment of animals while continuing to eat meat regularly. The farming system we rely on is woven through with misery. Modern chickens have been so genetically modified that their very bodies have become prisons of pain even if we open their cages. Turkeys are bred to be so obese that they are incapable of reproducing without artificial insemination. Mother cows have their calves ripped from them before weaning, resulting in acute distress we can hear in their wails and empirically measure through the cortisol in their bodies. […]

We cannot protect against pandemics while continuing to eat meat regularly. Much attention has been paid to wet markets, but factory farms, specifically poultry farms, are a more important breeding ground for pandemics. Further, the C.D.C. reports that three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic — the result of our broken relationship with animals.