Our current farming system promotes disease, abuses workers, and increases the risk of another pandemic. Flip the system, and you benefit everyone.
Animal agriculture can be violent and destructive, especially when it’s done in the intensive way it currently is. Countless exposés have documented that today’s animal agriculture is cruel and unsustainable, but there are many harms that aren’t as obvious, especially as it relates to human health and wellbeing. These harms affect everyone, but many disproportionately hurt low-income communities and people of color.
From limited access to abundance
Consider that the biggest cause of death in the United States – heart disease – is linked to meat.1 Type 2 diabetes, which is especially common in Black and Hispanic communities, is also linked to meat consumption.2 Despite this, our broken food system subsidizes the cost of meat, making it cheap and widely available – often in the form of unhealthy fast food. In addition, as food justice advocates know, common but exploitative business practices limit access to supermarkets and healthy food in low-income communities. The result is that people of color often suffer disproportionately from the nutritional harms of diets heavy in meat, eggs, and dairy. This is why FlipIt is proud to celebrate the work of activists like Gwenna Hunter and Brenda Sanders who are bringing plant-based abundance to communities that our dominant food system has neglected.
The human cost of animal agriculture
There are also harms in the production of animal products. On the factory farms where animal products are produced today, workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants, experience exceptionally high rates of on-the-job injury. Slaughterhouse workers have it even worse. They lose limbs, wear out tendons, breathe in chemicals, and develop neurological conditions on the job. Sometimes these workers are children.
Flip our food system for pandemic resilience
And don’t forget pandemics. Factory farms increase the risk of pandemics by raising genetically uniform, sickly animals by the thousands in intensive confinement. Today, most farmed animals are intensively bred for fast growth, which makes them vulnerable to disease. It doesn’t take an expert to realize that cramming these immunocompromised animals into tight quarters by the tens of thousands is an invitation for bacteria and viruses to mutate into new diseases that are dangerous to humans. A food system that depends on factory farms is just begging for the next superbug to be unleashed.
The good news is that community activists are already creating a more just food system that supports the health of the planet, animals, and people by making plant-based food accessible to everyone.