Meat Industry Kills, Throws Away Millions of Animals Amid Slaughterhouse Closures

According to recent reports, millions of animals have been gassed and aborted, as the meat industry runs out of space to house them amid meat processing plant closures across the United States due to COVID-19. 

WHY ARE ANIMALS BEING KILLED? When chickens and pigs in the meat industry reach “market weight,” they would typically be slaughtered, but as meat processing plants close and workers are sidelined due to the spread of COVID-19 in these places, there are fewer people to slaughter the animals and cut apart their bodies. For this reason, farmers are killing the animals and disposing of their bodies to make room for incoming animals to take their place. This has been referred to as “depopulation” or “culling.” 

THE MEAT INDUSTRY IS STRUGGLING: Smithfield Foods, Cargill, JBS USA, and Tyson Foods are some of the largest meat companies in the country, and they’ve reportedly shut down about 20 slaughterhouses and meat processing plants as COVID-19 spread among employees. Hens raised for eggs are also being killed due to decreased business in the restaurant industry and plant closures. 

AN EARLY END TO A PAIN-FILLED LIFE: Animals raised for food are typically viewed as commodities even though they have the same capacity to feel fear and pain as the dogs and cats we share our homes with. The majority of animals in the meat industry are denied everything that’s natural to them. Mother pigs are typically kept in crates so small that they can’t even turn around or lie down comfortably, and chickens are kept in crowded, dim sheds, bred to grow so large so fast, that many struggle to walk or even stand up. 

UNNECESSARY DEATHS: The massive waste of life due to the culling of these animals is disturbing, however under normal circumstances, these animals would also have been killed unnecessarily. Humans can live happy and healthy lives without harming animals, so it’s never necessary to slaughter an animal, whether it’s for meat or for “depopulation.” 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? While it’s still unclear what will ultimately happen, on Tuesday President Donald Trump announced an order for meat-processing plants to reopen. It can be difficult for employees to social distance in these plants. In fact, a lawsuit recently alleged that workers for a major meat company have been denied adequate protection from COVID-19, including opportunities to wash their hands. Twenty workers in U.S. meatpacking and food-processing plants have reportedly died, while at least 6,500 are infected with COVID-19 or have missed work due to symptoms, quarantine, or hospitalization. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: It’s been documented time and time again that animal agriculture is a living nightmare for animals. We don’t have to be dependent on an industry that hurts animals, contributes to climate change, harms our health, and puts workers at risk. Instead of fearing a shortage of meat at the supermarket, isn’t now the perfect time to try out a plant-based diet? Millions of people are already doing it, and with all of the great meat alternatives on the market nowadays, making the switch is easier than ever.