Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Preventing Deadly Viral Outbreaks

"Are we killing ourselves?

There has been a lot of talk in recent days about how factory farmed animals are the cause of the deadly hybrid virus that is eerily mutating, and some are calling it cosmic retribution, a sort of "chickens coming home to roost" scenario. I don't know about that, but an animal virus like swine flu is a completely predictable (and was a widely predicted) response to our modern horribly cruel and appallingly filthy factory farming systems.

Undoubtedly, some animal welfare people are hoping that swine flu will serve as a wake-up call for humanity, that the "groupthink" in support of intensive farming might move toward thoughtfulness about the health hazards and cruelty of intensively confining animals, and that governments will pass laws to make these "confined animal feeding operations" (CAFOs, the industry term for "factory farm") smaller, cleaner, less cruel, and less dependent on drugs--which are used to keep the animals alive through the filthy and stressful conditions that would otherwise kill them in much greater numbers.

What can we do, as individuals, to create a sea change, to halt the mutation of deadly viruses, to say no to out-of-control business practices, to stop creating environmental havoc, and to bring our health up to a better level? All of this can be covered, incredibly, by thinking very seriously about the foods we choose to eat, and then changing our habits if we find that our choices are generating problems. And as we change as individuals, society and governments will change with us.

I realize it's not painless to give up what we are used to, what we like the taste and tradition of, in favor of a diet that we know is better for us and the planet. But if we lean into the shift of eating consciously by giving up one animal at a time, or eating only vegetarian for two out of three meals, we will find our way and get used to new tastes. We will grow to love different foods that are kinder to our bodies, the environment, and the animals."


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