Slaughterhouses have been declared epicentres of Covid-19 outbreaks in many countries. Many slaughterhouse workers and their families have been affected by Covid-19. This has resulted in literally thousands of workers at slaughterhouses becoming sick, and dozens dying as a result.
According to one report: “Almost half the current Covid-19 hotspots in the US are linked to meat processing plants where poultry, pigs and cattle are slaughtered and packaged”.
It is clear that the meat industry cares little for the people who work within it. And of course, some people may wonder why, as an animal rights organisation, we should show empathy towards those working in slaughterhouses. But the reality is that these workers also suffer negative impacts resulting from the horrific and ruthless industry, and it is important to recognise this. It is worth bearing in mind that slaughterhouse workers are often in extremely vulnerable situations. As reports show, many are migrant workers, working long hours in terrible conditions for very little pay. Slaughterhouse workers often have very little choice when it comes to work.
These workers are, as some articles have stated, literally put on the frontline; forced to work in close proximity with one another, because social distancing seemingly cannot exist in these places. And of course, they are also surrounded by animals, the majority of whom come from filthy factory farms, where disease is rife. It is evident that the meat industry does not care about humans or animals.
Previous research has shown that slaughterhouse workers suffer higher risks of mental health problems, such as depression and PTSD, and can also be more susceptible to drug and alcohol dependency – one can imagine due to the stressful and horrific nature of their roles. Slaughterhouse workers are often poorly paid, too, making their lives even more difficult.
Their roles also put them in grave danger of suffering injuries. In the UK, an average of two slaughterhouse workers per week suffer serious injuries.
The reality is that all of this suffering and misery is fuelled by consumer demand for meat and animal products. There has never been a better, easier or more urgent time to adopt a plant-based diet.
Whether you care deeply about animals, the environment, or the well-being of other people, it is clear that boycotting the meat industry is one way of showing this, especially in these unprecedented times. Slaughterhouse workers are suffering, the animals are suffering, and neither has much of a choice. But you do. Try vegan.