The coronavirus pandemic focuses our attention on the link between cleanliness and avoidance of disease. As much as possible, people are sanitizing their hands, social distancing, and covering their faces to prevent the virus from spreading. Yet most people consume products from chickens and other animals who have spent their life in polluted, overcrowded facilities.
Infectious microbes are drawn to population density, dirt, and weakened immune systems – the perfect conditions in which to spread in animals and humans alike.
One of the worst things we do to animals in industrial farming is to prevent them from practicing hygiene.
When chickens come to our sanctuary from a confinement facility, their first act in being placed on the ground is to take a dustbath. They instinctively want to clean their skin and feathers with particles of earth. This, for them, is comparable to a waterbath for us.
Forcing animals to live in filth and breathe air rife with pathogens is an experience they would not choose on their own.
Recognizing the importance of hygiene and staying healthy, we need to remember that the same link between health and hygiene applies to other species. Animals in nature would never survive if they carried the load of diseases and immunological weaknesses that characterize modern farmed animals.
Let us think carefully about our food choices. A plant-based diet free of animal products is increasingly desirable and obtainable in today’s society. While providing an opportunity for a more peaceful world, it is also an intelligent food safety choice.
A plant-based diet will not sacrifice jobs or hurt the economy. As long as people exist, the same amount of food will be produced and consumed. Just because we stop eating animal products doesn’t mean we stop eating.
Karen Davis, President
United Poultry Concerns, Machipongo