Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Swine Flu… April 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper @ 10:55 pm

…Okay, I couldn’t resist. I need to understand why why why the mainstream media (and people I meet) don’t seem to understand that the cruel treatment of non-human animals is rooted in pandemics like this. It’s like people are continuously surprised that if you forcefully pack 100,000 non-human animals in industrialized factory farmed facility, loaded with bacteria, torture, germs, etc, it’s a breeding ground for non-human animal to human animal viruses and bacteria….

Michael Greger’s work explored this a few years ago, no?

Just needed to vent…


26 Responses to “Swine Flu…”

  1. Kaitlin Says:

    I too am getting so sick of how shocked and appalled people are over this. The answer is so clear and obvious but they only care about sick animals when it has a (noticable) impact on them. *sigh*

  2. You can re-hash and re-hash and re-hash… it’s always new to someone. I guarantee factory farming is 100% new news to the vast majority of Americans.

  3. Deric Says:

    Good vent! haha

  4. akahn Says:

    Don’t you mean the pandemic is rooted in the cruel treatment, rather than the cruel treatment is rooted in the pandemic? Also, I’m pretty sure that swine flu is not a pandemic as of yet.

  5. derarchimedischepunkt Says:

    I am glad you bring the hot topic up. Everybody is discussing it, media avoids to talk – at least – about animal welfare, let alone vegetarian/vegan ethics. We life in an advanced age, but hardly as far a encompassing-ethics are concerned. A world without a comprehensive ethical consciousness lives on the basis of disaster.

    • I’m not sure if it’s the “same” thing, but in my studies of how a majority of whites viewed black people during USA chattel slavery days, many would say that black folk lack hygiene and have many diseases. Perhaps people who made these comments never reflected on the fact that so many slaves were forced to live in conditions that made it difficult to achieve optimal health and wellness. Sorry if I’m not making any sense.

      • I say this because I meet a significant amount of people who think certain non-human animals, such as pigs, are inherently “dirty” and carry disease. They don’t reflect on the larger picture that the way pigs in factory farms are forced to live make them susceptible to diseases.

  6. sunfloweryogini Says:

    People are going to resist that piece of truth even if it kills them.

    Thankfully, in my experience as of late, some are finally waking up to the connection between factory farming and viruses.

  7. Thank you for correcting my ignorance. It’s been tough trying to think & write correctly these past 5.5 weeks, as I’m parenting a newborn and am only sleeping 2-3 hours a day.

    • derarchimedischepunkt Says:

      I don’t see any ignorance in raising the issues. Apart form that: I am wishing you all energy for your little one. Peace.

      • I was responding to akahn’s crtique of my initial posting and wording when I said “ignorance.” He had a desire to correct me.

      • Oh, sorry about that, let me be more explicit. Akahn critiqued, “Don’t you mean the pandemic is rooted in the cruel treatment, rather than the cruel treatment is rooted in the pandemic? Also, I’m pretty sure that swine flu is not a pandemic as of yet.” So, I apologized for being “ignorant” and not knowing how to write correctly or know that it’s not even a pandemic.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Amazing, Breeze Harper. Double thumbs-up.

  8. derarchimedischepunkt Says:

    however, both things are connected. That, I understand is the point we all seem to have in mind (?) (I’m not being specific about the “pandemic” thing now, cos I am also not sure when to call something that.) Thanks for the post.

  9. supernovadiva Says:

    i was ranting about this and you beat me to the post. the people in the village, where the swine flu is believed to have started, complained forever about the american owned factory farm dumping waste into the waters etc. nothing was done and the american company is claiming innocence. there’s so many layers.

    • Wow supernovadiva, I need to research what you just wrote because I know USA factories in Mexico cause a lot of suffering to humans and non-human animals (not to say that it’s ONLY USA at fault).

  10. Joselle Says:

    According to the World Health Organization, swine flu is one step away from being a pandemic and will probably become one soon.

    I really liked Bob Torres’ response ( to some vegan reactions online–namely that humans have had this coming. Breeze, I don’t think you’re saying this but I think it’s important to note that many people in Mexico and one Mexican boy in America have died from what appears to be swine flu ( and that those numbers will rise across the globe where access to health care is limited or nonexistent.

    Additionally, many farm workers have little to no control over the conditions in farms and it is they, the residents near the farm, and the animals who suffer and die the most.

    It’s also important to note that anyone can get swine flu, vegan or not. Again, I’m not saying this was implied in Breeze’s post or the other comments. Just something to consider.

    Finally, as serious as this is, I do think the mainstream media is going to town by hyping this story beyond belief and making people panic. More people have probably gotten and even died from “regular” flu last year than from swine flu. The news doesn’t need to have special swine flu disaster music and graphics!

  11. Joselle Says:

    Well, WHO is not going to call it “swine” flu anymore due to lobbying by pork producers.

  12. Louche Says:

    Is it just me, or does the World Health Organization have no idea what it’s talking about? It claims 168 *suspected* (only 13 confirmed) deaths from H1N1, and it takes them until Egypt orders 300,000 massacred pigs to realize that “swine flu” is a misleading phrase. It’s really “human flu” that people are concerned about, not “swine flu.” Maybe I’m the one who’s confused, but I really don’t get why this is a big deal. According to Wikipedia, hundreds of thousands of humans die each year from the flu. Hundreds of thousands! What’s so special about H1N1? That it came from pigs? If that’s what’s so special about it, then clearly this media insanity should be focused on the health of the pigs, far less on how many human cases there are.

    And that’s a good point that most people just think pigs are inherently dirty. I kept seeing all these brief images of factory farms on the mainstream news, and I thought, “Wow. Before I was vegan, I *know* I would’ve looked at that and just thought that pigs are naturally dirty.” It would never have occurred to me that a swarm of 25 pigs in a tiny space, all just running around into each other, was troubling in any way. If someone had pointed that out, I’m not sure how well I would’ve understood… depends on how the rest of the conversation would’ve gone. You can’t just say, “Look at those poor pigs crammed in there.” Most people will just draw on their speciesism and other assumptions about pigs and animals and farming and not really think about it, unless you say something more.

  13. Joselle Says:

    Louche, I think this R2D2 flu is a big deal because it’s new and therefore, no one has immunity to it. So, it could spread very quickly. Flu does kill people, especially the young, the old and immunocompromised. That it seems to have originated from swine and passed onto another species also is troubling. So, that’s why it’s getting more press than your run of the mill winter flu.

  14. Louche Says:

    I thought that the reason you have to get a flu shot every year is because the flu virus mutates every year, so no one has any long-term immunity to the flu in general.

    I guess I am starting to see a reason why it being passed between species would be a human health concern… that we don’t normally keep track of the health of nonhumans.

  15. Harrison Says:

    The Spanish flu of 1918 killed at least 20 million people, and it crossed over from birds. Its other scary feature was that it basically provokes the immune system to the point that it poisons the human body, meaning that young-middle age adults with healthy immune systems are more likely to die.

    So there are genuine reasons to be scared of this new strain, not just because humans think animals are dirty and thus all have scarier viruses.

    It sounds like the media isn’t helping though. It hasn’t been so bad here – there are no confirmed cases in Australia yet, and our media doesn’t tend to have silly graphics and music.

    One vegetarian got a letter published in a major newspaper saying they hoped no vegetarians died from this outbreak, as that would be unfair or something. So, thanks Joselle for the link to the Bob Torres piece. Hopefully some of the people making callous comments/letters will read it.

  16. treaclemine Says:

    It is my (lay-persons) understanding that the spread of diseases between species has always occurred, but is intensified by human ‘domestication’/exploitation of other species.

    So an animal might catch an infectious disease from a free-living animal of another species by exposure to the faeces, or by preying upon and eating that animal.

    As the exposure between the two species increases, the disease causing organisms have the chance to mutate and become more dangerous.

    When humans started artificially breeding animals, and confining them, such cross-exposure increased. Humans regularly used to over-winter in the same buildings as the animals e.g. in Northern Europe over hundreds and presumably thousands of years.

    As factory farming emerged, conditions for the animals and humans involved became increasingly favourable to cross-infection.

    So I think we can argue that _any_ kind of artificial breeding and confinement of animals, especially if humans are then eating things taken from those animals (milk, flesh etc.) will contribute to disease transmission and novel disease generation.

    Factory farming is clearly an extreme example, but e.g. breeding of animals as human companions is also an example.

  17. J.R. Boyd Says:

    Veggie or non: sick animals mean sick people.

    • I think in this case it’s not even a meat-eater against veggies argumentation. Even most non-veggies would agree that they’d rather have animals live in a clean and healthy environment (thus NOT factory farming). This is just an example of how in a capitalistic system greed can make one (pork “producers” in this case) forget all ethics. It might be a good idea for the state to tax those companies which do factory farming and support organic/classical animal husbandry, the lesser of two evils… sorry i’m no extremist but believe in gradual change.
      Anyway all it really takes is for people to realize the obvious connection between crowded animals and the emergence of viruses. I haven’t seen the media cover that though.

  18. Maho Says:

    Given Willingly (by the way I like your name!) I totally agree with you.

    I disgust every time I hear the expression “pandemic”. Surgical masks were sold out in Tokyo! You will see big signs saying “Masks Sold Out.” It is all media’s propaganda, it seems.

    Yes people should know the connection between how animals are treated at factories, how inhumane and unhygienic.

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