Original entry here. I’ll add updates below as relevant news becomes available.
27 APR UPDATES: U.S. declares public health emergency; swine flu confirmed in Spain; global stock markets plumet due to fears of pandemic; European Union health officials warn against travel to the U.S. and Mexico.
Tip to veg/AR organizations: Pork producers are already on this, sending out the message that you can’t get swine flu from eating pig flesh. Now might be a very good time to seize the day by making and taking “Pig Flu, Bacon, and You” handouts to the grocery store. Be sure to give good and reliable information about flu along with your go veg message.
Important points to stress:
- While you can’t get flu from eating meat, you can catch all sorts of food-borne illnesses, such as E.coli and salmonella. Furthermore, meat is linked with many diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and several cancers. See this handout or visit PCRM for facts.
- The bird flu and new swine flu viruses are so dangerous because they are mutations that bring together DNA from avian, swine, and human influenza viruses. Factory farming, in which thousands of animals of the same species are crowded together in unsanitary circumstances, allows viruses to mutate madly. But it is animal agriculture itself — including those small-scale organic farms and dairies so beloved by ostensibly ethical omnivores — that creates the conditions in which pig, chicken, and human viruses come into the sustained contact required for gene swapping to occur. As long as we continue to keep and kill animals for food, we will be at risk for pandemics of virulent mutant flus and other zoonoses
- Hunting’s no safer. HIV came to us courtesy of the practice of killing and slaughtering chimps for bush meat.
- In fact, many of the most dreadful disease outbreaks in human history have been zoonoses — diseases from animals that we picked up in consequence of our penchant for enslaving, killing, and eating them. (See my past post on bird flu for more detail and links to sources of information on this.)
- So, the best thing to do if you’re concerned about swine or bird flu is to quit being a customer of the industries that create and maintain the conditions under which these diseases evolve and spread.
Of course, there are a bazillion other reasons (ethics chief among them) to be as green/vegan as possible. Feel free to mention those too — and especially climate change, since that’s another big problem about which people are worried but don’t know what to do.
27 Apr update update: Michael Greger, author of Bird Flu has written an excellent, and well sourced, article on the factory farm origins of H1N1. Check it out, especially if you’re likely to be talking (or arguing) with people about this!
28 Apr update: UN raises pandemic threat level to 4 and sends inspectors to Mexican pig farms as new cases appear in Israel and New Zealand. Eastern Shore Sanctuary calls on animal advocates to seize the day.