Animal Agriculture: Its Time Has Come & Gone

Jeffrey Spitz Cohan is the executive director of Jewish Veg, an international nonprofit organization that inspires and helps Jews to embrace vegan lifestyles and a board member of Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM). Jeffrey reached out to The FARM Buzz about sharing this recent Medium article “Animal Agriculture: Its Time Has Come and Gone.”

“A lot of compelling arguments have been put forward about the importance of going vegan and phasing out animal agriculture.

Surely, by now, you’ve heard something about the horrific treatment of farmed animals, the health benefits of a plant-based diet, and the environmental devastation wrought by meat, dairy and egg production.

But one argument that is rarely invoked is becoming more persuasive, day by day.

As we find ourselves almost of a quarter of the way through the 21st Century, we can now see that confining and killing billions of animals is an outdated, archaic means of feeding ourselves. Its time has come — and gone.

This is not an abstract, intellectual observation. It’s actually a matter of life and death, for animals and people alike.

I was reminded of this just last week, when national media reported that President Biden is giving serious thought to vaccinating billions of chickens, to contain the spread of the H5N1 respiratory virus.”

Jeffrey continued with more background:

“According to figures from the US Department of Agriculture, more than 58 million chickens, turkeys and ducks in this country have contracted an avian influenza related to the H5N1 virus. This outbreak has spread to 47 of the 50 states, and has spilled over into mammals, such as foxes and minks.

From the virus’s perspective, our factory farms are gold mines. You have thousands of animals, all genetically similar, packed together, indoors, with little ventilation. And, oh yeah, no chicken is wearing a mask. If you were trying to spread a virus, you would be hard-pressed to come up with more optimal conditions.

It’s worth bearing in mind that everything we call ‘the flu’ started in birds.

If you’re not scared, you’re not paying attention. If H5N1 spills over into the human population, we’re in big trouble. It’s much more deadly than the coronavirus.

This is why our president is considering spending billions of dollars to vaccinate chickens.”

Jeffrey then asks “have we lost our minds?”

“Why would we be spending taxpayer dollars, or doing anything at all, to patch the leaks in the sinking, sickly ship of animal agriculture?

This is 2023. The marketplace is brimming with plant-based versions of chicken and virtually every other kind of meat. The Internet is practically bursting with recipes to make vegan versions of bacon, fried chick’n, even steak.

For a fraction of the cost of vaccinating billions of chickens, we could be investing in research into plant-based proteins and subsidizing the consumer products. Lest you think this is a farcical idea, this is exactly what our government has been doing to prop up animal agriculture for decades. At a minimum, let’s level the playing field.

I keep coming back to the fact that this is 2023, not 1923. We now have the know-how to feed ourselves the food we like without confining billions of eating and pooping animals and putting ourselves at risk of another zoonotic pandemic.

We don’t need these breeding grounds for deadly viruses, nor the sewage lagoons at pig farms, nor the stench of cattle feedlots. We don’t need the vast fields of corn and soy and other livestock feed, growing where forests and natural grasslands should be flourishing.

I’m not sure we needed them in 1923, but we sure as heck don’t need them now.

Vaccinate chickens? All 2 billion of them? (That’s how many are ‘alive’ in the U.S. at any one time). C’mon, President Biden. We can, we must, do better.”

Jeffrey concluded.

“I understand the economic pressures. In what I’m proposing as an alternative to vaccinations, funding would be earmarked to help people in the poultry industry transition to more sensible forms of agriculture, into vocations that produce healthier food.

In effect, you can vote for this approach every time you go to the supermarket or a restaurant. It’s simple, really. Choose a plant-based option.

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that the future is vegan. Well, animal agriculture is the past. And the future is now.”

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