David Attenborough says eating free-range meat is a ‘middle-class hypocrisy’ – and that he is ‘troubled’ when he eats fish and chicken.
The veteran broadcaster made the comments during an interview with the Radio Times magazine ahead of the launch of his new film David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet.
Sir David said he ‘couldn’t remember’ when he’d last eaten meat, and that it was ‘years ago’.
But he then revealed: ” I eat fish, and chicken, and my conscience does trouble me.
“I’m affluent enough to afford free-range, but it’s a middle-class hypocrisy.”
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet premieres on September 28. It will launch on Netflix in October.
The film covers the period of his life, outlining the defining moments, and highlighting how the environment has been damaged during that time.
Announcing the launch of the film, Sir David warned: “Humanity is at a crossroads and I think the natural world is really under serious, serious threat.”
Veteran presenter Sir David Attenborough has urged the public to ditch meat and work towards a plant-based diet in his new documentary A Life On Our Planet.
The film, which premieres in U.K cinemas for one night only on September 28, looks at the environmental changes that have happened on Earth over Sir David’s lifetime and offers some solutions to the climate crisis.
According to the Mirror, the historian said: “We must change our diet. The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters.
“If we had a mostly plant-based diet we could increase the yield of the land. We have an urgent need for free land… Nature is our biggest ally.”
Sir David also warned that the ‘natural world is fading’ and predicts the loss of biodiversity, which he describes as the true tragedy of our times – is ‘still unfolding’.
“I am David Attenborough, and I am 93. I’ve had the most extraordinary life. It is only now that I appreciate how extraordinary,” Sir David says in the film’s trailer.
“Our planet is headed for disaster. We need to learn how to work with nature rather than against it and I’m going to tell you how.”
By Jeffrey Spitz Cohan
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — COVID-19 has been a miserable, even tragic, experience.
Another killer pandemic? It’s certainly not something we want to experience again anytime soon, or ever.
I know San Diego, where I grew up, has suffered greatly at the hands, or spikes, of the coronavirus.
But here’s the good news. If we’re serious about greatly reducing the chances of a second, quite possibly worse, pandemic, the solution is simple and comes with wonderful side effects.
A transition to plant-based diets on the individual level, and away from animal agriculture on the societal level, will not only help prevent another pandemic – it will improve your health, spare animals from suffering, reduce environmental degradation, and even lessen world hunger.
A little history is in order.
Throughout most of human history, there were no epidemic diseases.
“No one got the flu, not even the common cold, until about 10,000 years ago,” said Dr. Michael Greger, author of Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching.
What happened 10,000 years ago? We began domesticating animals.
“When we brought domesticated animals to the barnyard, they brought their diseases with them,” Greger said.
Measles, for instance, has killed 200 million people over the course of history. It entered into the human population from cattle, in the form of the rinderpest virus.
The flu, which takes the form of many viruses, originally came from domesticated ducks.
Even the common cold came from horses.
In the mid-20th century, scientists developed vaccines to slow and even stop the spread of some of the worst infectious diseases. Measles. Polio. Smallpox.
But in the last 35 years or so, humanity has been visited by an unprecedented variety of frightening virus outbreaks.
AIDS. Ebola. Mad cow disease. SARS. MERS. The swine flu. And now COVID-19.
In addition to their lethality, these viral outbreaks have something else in common. All of these diseases are zoonotic, meaning they spilled over from animals into the human population.
In fact, all of them have come about because of the confinement, slaughter and consumption of animals. Yes, even AIDS.
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, made the jump from animals to people when someone slaughtered a chimpanzee for meat. The chimpanzee was carrying the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV).
Fortunately, we have the power to greatly reduce our chances of creating another pandemic.
“To prevent future outbreaks like COVID-19 or worse, we have to treat planetary, animal and human health as inseparable,” Viveca Morris, executive director of the Law, Ethics & Animals Program at Yale Law School, wrote recently in The Los Angeles Times. “This will require … changes to business as usual.
“To date, we’ve operated under the fallacies that medicine and ecology can be understood independently and that the conditions that impact the animal kingdom are separate from those that impact humans.”
Preventing future outbreaks will require some dietary modifications. Positive ones. Eating plants, not animals.
In the words of University of Oxford zoologist Cynthia Schuck, “Our purchasing and dietary choices can build a safer future for generations to come.”
Jeffrey Spitz Cohan is the executive director of Jewish Veg, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring and helping Jews to adopt plant-based diets. He grew up in El Cajon and became a Bar Mitzvah at Temple Beth Israel. For more information on the connection between pandemics and meat-eating, and for free resources on transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, visit JewishVeg.org/pandemic
For Immediate Release:
July 23, 2020
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382
Austin, Texas – As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Austin, PETA sent a letter this morning asking the city’s mayor, Steve Adler, to encourage all residents to help prevent future pandemics, safeguard their own health, and save animals’ lives by going vegan.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—is also sending the mayor a box of delicious vegan chocolates shaped like chickens, frogs, and bats, noting that these “animals” can be eaten without risking another pandemic. COVID-19 apparently originated in a Chinese “wet market,” in which animals are sold for human consumption. Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America, and most residents would never dream of eating the city’s 1.5 million bats—so PETA is encouraging them to extend that compassion to all other animals, including chickens and cows.
“The next SARS, swine flu, bird flu, or COVID-19 outbreak will be just around the corner as long as people keep eating animals,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA stands ready with free vegan starter kits and mentors to help everyone boost their immune system and help prevent future pandemics by eating delicious, humane vegan meals.”
PETA notes that going vegan has never been easier. Several popular Austin eateries, such as Counter Culture, The Beer Plant, and Citizen Eatery, serve tasty plant-based fare. For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to Adler follows.
July 23, 2020
The Honorable Steve Adler
Mayor of Austin
Dear Mayor Adler,
Greetings from PETA. As cases of COVID-19 continue to spike in Austin, putting public health at risk, I’m writing with a lifesaving suggestion: Encourage all residents to eat vegan. PETA stands ready to help them make the switch by offering resources such as our free vegan starter kits and our free vegan mentor services. We’ll also be sending you a box of dairy-free chocolates in the shapes of chickens, frogs, and bats—the only kind of “animals” that can be eaten compassionately and safely.
COVID-19, swine flu, avian flu, mad cow disease, SARS, Ebola, and AIDS are all linked to the production or consumption of meat, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that approximately 75% of recently emerged infectious diseases affecting humans originated in other animals. As long as animals are bred, confined in their own filth, and slaughtered, it’s not a matter of if another pandemic will occur but when.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other wholesome vegan foods are cholesterol-free, generally low in saturated fat, and high in fiber and other nutrients, and they can even prevent—and in some cases, reverse—life-threatening diseases as well as boost immunity. In fact, Corinne Bush, science director of the American Nutrition Association and a representative of the Personalized Nutrition & COVID-19 Task Force, advises people to eat plenty of produce in order to boost their immune system and ward off COVID-19 and other health problems. Dr. Mehmet Oz agrees, pointing out that fruits and vegetables “enhance your immune response,” and he shared antioxidant-rich smoothie recipes on TODAY.
We’re ready to help Austin residents turn over a healthy new vegan leaf, so please let us know how we can be of assistance. We look forward to hearing from you.
Executive Vice President
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Animal rights organisation Peta India has demanded immediate closure of illegal wet markets to prevent another pandemic. Peta’s warning comes in the backdrop of global Covid-19 pandemic.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India released video footage of live-animal markets (wet markets) across the country operating illegally. The organisation has demanded the closure of all illegal wet markets — marketplaces that sell perishable goods including meat, fish and other produce — in Delhi, West Bengal and Manipur.
The organisation also highlighted the fact that activities like dog slaughter, wildlife meat trade are in violation of Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 2960 and the Food Safety And Standards Act, 2006.
Peta India highlighted how the Covid-19 pandemic was believed to have first infected humans at a wet market in China, and said, “Covid-19 is widely believed to have first infected humans at wet markets in China through wildlife, though one theory links the disease to factory-farmed pigs.”
“Peta India is calling on authorities to close down all such live-animal meat and wildlife markets.’’
The video footage shows unhygienic Ghazipur ‘Murga Mandi’ of Delhi, bags of live crabs and eels at a fish market in Malancha, West Bengal, captured and dead dogs at the Keera Bazaar in Dimapur, Nagaland.
Illegal wildlife trade
Peta India also alleged that in Manipur, sellers at the Nute Bazar trade charred remains of wild animals including monkeys, wild boars, porcupines, and deer. Meanwhile, at Churachandpur market, meat from various wild animals are sold openly in violation of laws.
“The next deadly virus will be just around the corner as long as these filthy wet markets are permitted to operate,” said PETA India Vegan Outreach Coordinator Dr Kiran Ahuja.
SARS and various deadly bird flu, including H5N1, which has a 60 per cent mortality rate in humans, have been linked to Chinese live-animal meat markets as well.
Other diseases like MERS, swine flu and even HIV and Ebola have also been traced back to animals, said Peta India.
Peta India has also written a letter to the Union health minister, environment minister and other concerned ministries, urging the closure of wet markets across the country.
Going vegan, banning the trade of exotic animals and clamping down on crowded farms could prevent the world from being ravaged by another pandemic, leading scientists warned today.
A 25-strong team of wildlife and veterinary experts have identified seven routes by which pandemics could occur moving forward — and 161 ways to reduce the risk of another infectious disease striking every corner of the planet.
The team — led by Cambridge University experts — said humans must drastically change the way they interact with animals or it is ‘only a matter of time’ before another pandemic rocks the world.
The group say wildlife farming, the transport, trade and consumption of meat, the exotic pet industry and increased human encroachment on wildlife habitats, are among the ways new diseases could spread in humans.They propose clamping down on the amount of animals people can farm, keeping livestock away from domestic pets and even going vegan to reduce the risk.
Eating a more plant-based diet would bring down the global demand for animal meat and lead to less animals being farmed and transported in cramped conditions, where disease can easily jump between species, the researchers claim.
Lead researcher Professor William Sutherland, a zoologist at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘A lot of recent campaigns have focused on banning the trade of wild animals, and dealing with wild animal trade is really important yet it’s only one of many potential routes of infection.
‘We should not assume the next pandemic will arise in the same way as Covid-19; we need to be acting on a wider scale to reduce the risk.’
Covid-19 is thought to have originated in bats, which are known carriers of hundreds of different kinds of coronaviruses.
But it’s unlikely that bats directly gave the virus to humans, based on what’s known about transmission of earlier coronaviruses.
Scientists believe the disease was passed on to another animal, an ‘intermediate host’, which then infected humans.
The prevailing theory is this process took place at Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, where exotic animals could be slaughtered on order.
Live and dead animals were kept in cramped cages at the maligned market, which experts say made it the perfect breeding ground for disease.
This was supposed to be a big year for America’s meat industry. As recently as late February, a USDA livestock analyst predicted record-setting red meat and poultry production as economic growth and low unemployment boosted demand for animal protein.
Then came COVID-19. By the end of April, the pandemic changed the economic and agricultural landscape so drastically that Tyson Foods, one of America’s biggest meat producers, warned in a full-page New York Times ad that the “food supply chain is breaking.”
America’s farms are still packed with animals raised for meat production. The problem is that the virus has made it increasingly hard to turn those animals into store-ready packs of pork chops or ground beef. That’s because Tyson and many other meat processing companies across the country have paused operations at a number of plants where workers have tested positive for COVID-19. According to the USDA’s weekly report from April 27, beef production was down nearly 25% year-over-year, while and pork production was down 15%.
In an effort to curb the problem, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on April 28 aiming to keep meat processing plants in operation. But many say Trump’s order will be unlikely to eliminate the threat that COVID-19 poses to American meat processors, and, by extension, the food supply. It’s hard, after all, to protect workers from a highly contagious virus in the frequently tight quarters of a processing plant. At least 20 meatpackers have already died from COVID-19, and more than 5,000 have been hospitalized or are showing symptoms, according to labor union United Food and Commercial Workers.
Still, experts warn that shoppers should prepare for meat to be more expensive, less varied and harder to find over the coming weeks and even months. Here’s what you need to know before your next trip to the grocery store.
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In the coming weeks, grocery stores may have a smaller variety of meat, and less meat overall.
Glynn Tonsor, a professor at Kansas State University’s department of agricultural economics, says that whether or not you find meat on your next shopping trip could come down to timing — whether “you come in five minutes after the truck was unloaded, so to speak, verses 12 hours after it was unloaded,” he says.
Tonsor thinks the problem will start to improve by June as meat processing plants find ways to operate in a COVID-19 world.
But some meat supply issues could linger for a year or more, warns David Anderson, professor and extension economist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. That’s because meat processing facilities could struggle to keep production lines moving as workers get sick.
“I think the average purchaser’s going to notice it,” says Anderson. “I suspect that consumers will note that in the meat case in their store, there won’t be as much as normal, or as they used to see. You’ll see parts of the meat case where there’s less there, you’ll see parts of the meat case, probably, where they spread out the product — so it looks full.”
Most likely. We could see higher meat prices for at least the rest of the year, Anderson says.
“In terms of the animals produced, we’ve got ample supplies, huge supplies,” he says. “The bottleneck is in packing and processing. What that means is higher prices for consumers.”
Tonsor says some customers may find themselves spending more of their grocery budget than usual on meat, or they may find it too expensive altogether.
But some stores, he says, may choose not to pass on the higher costs to consumers, in order to incentivize them to come and spend money on other goods. They could also phase-in price increases to soften the blow over time.
Still, some consumers will likely be forced into exploring alternative cheaper protein sources, like beans or tofu, especially as millions of Americans find themselves out of work amid the wider economic slowdown.
The most popular meat products, like ground beef and bacon, are especially likely to rise in price, says Tonsor. But the price of less popular items, like tongue, may not rise as much.
Items that go through special steps (like flavoring) or products that are handled in dedicated facilities (like organic or grass-fed meats) may be more vulnerable to price hikes as well, he says.
Some meats may increase in price more quickly than others. Pigs are bred more quickly than cattle, for instance, making it easier to adjust their production levels.
Also: get your own spices and rubs ready. “I expect flavored wings to be harder to get your hands on regularly than plain, boneless chicken breast,” Tonsor says.
While President Trump’s executive order is aimed at motivating meat processing plants to stay in operation, whether or not that’s actually possible will come down to workers, not management. If workers fall ill or are concerned enough for their own safety that they choose not to return, it won’t matter if plants re-open or not.
“These are skilled jobs,” says Tonsor. “You can’t just overnight replace worker A with worker B.”
That workers could be eligible for the enhanced unemployment insurance passed amid the COVID-19 crisis could also factor into their thinking, says Dermot Hayes, pioneer chair in agribusiness at Iowa State University.
“Nobody knows how the workers are going to respond to a request to come back to work. Until somebody tries to reopen a plant and get that to happen, we really can’t say,” says Hayes. “There will be a tension between the owners of the plants who want to operate, and the workers who want to be on redundancy.”
Trump’s executive order shows just how economically and politically important meat is in America.
“I think this announcement just reaffirms how important a well-functioning, flowing meat and livestock system is in America,” says Tonsor. He points out that meat helps fuel the market for feed crops, bolsters rural banks, and, through property taxes, funds programs like K-through-12 education.
Meat also has major symbolic value with many Americans, says Joshua Specht, the author of Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America and a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. Its rarity or absence, he says, would send yet another signal that COVID-19 is upending life as we have known it.
“If things that we rely on as staples — even if they’re not strictly necessary for survival, like meat — if we don’t have access to that, people will be very upset,” says Specht. “If there are shortages, they’ll resonate. In terms of the executive order, what that’s basically a recognition of is that this is the kind of thing that could have serious political consequences. And if you want to convince the public that the pandemic is under control, you don’t want them having some sort of thing they experience very directly.”
Specht says that he’s concerned to see mounting political pressure to reopen meat processing plants alongside reports of workers falling sick and dying. Such workers often have little political power, limited access to health care and similar services, and often need to keep working to stay afloat financially, he says. But he adds that there could be reasonably safe ways to keep virus-stricken plants in at least partial operation.
“If we spread [workers] out more, your options are lower line speed — and that means lower production — or pushing the workers that remain harder and harder,” he says. “And so that’s another way that there aren’t easy answers here. Something is going to have to give in that system.”