Chicken Fest’s Coronavirus Closure Sparks PETA Appeal

South Carolina Poultry Festival Urged to Hatch New Vegan Plan

For Immediate Release:
March 24, 2020

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Lexington County, S.C.

Because the 2020 South Carolina Poultry Festival has been canceled over COVID-19, PETA sent a letter urging its organizers to scrap the old, cruel meaty model and put on a new and improved vegan festival in future years.

“Because previous influenza diseases like the avian flu originated in chickens and COVID-19 emerged from a market where live and dead animals were sold for food, festivals that celebrate eating meat are woefully out of touch,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on the South Carolina Poultry Festival to reinvent itself as an all-vegan event and protect chickens, human health, and the environment.”

PETA notes that eating meat has been conclusively linked to heart disease, cancer, obesity, and other health issues—and according to the United Nations, animal agriculture is responsible for nearly a fifth of human-induced greenhouse-gas emissions. Each person who goes vegan saves the lives of nearly 200 animals every year.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, visit

PETA’s letter to South Carolina Poultry Festival Steering Committee Co-Chair Randy Taylor follows.

March 24, 2020

Randy Taylor
South Carolina Poultry Festival Steering Committee

Dear Mr. Taylor,

I’m writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including many across South Carolina, in response to the news that the South Carolina Poultry Festival will be canceled because of concerns over the coronavirus. Thank you for showing consideration for the health and safety of the humans who attend the festival. Please, will you consider making this cancellation permanent and instead organize a humane event—such as a family-friendly vegan festival—that doesn’t exploit animals or put participants at risk of contracting zoonotic diseases?

As COVID-19 grips the world, it’s time to recognize the health risks associated with handling live animals and eating meat. Raising animals for food in what are undeniably filthy conditions creates a breeding ground for diseases that can be transmitted to humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of novel diseases that have affected humans over the years are of animal origin. Swine flu—which comes from pigs—has killed thousands of people worldwide. Bird flu (or avian flu) can spread easily on crowded chicken farms, and there are at least 144 different strains of it. The H5N1 variety is deadly to humans, with a fatality rate of about 60%. When we choose to support an industry that allows chickens to live in crowded, filthy conditions on farms where viruses and bacteria can spread quickly, we’re doing everyone a disservice.

Chickens are sentient beings, capable of feeling fear and pain just like the dogs and cats we share our homes with. It should be no more acceptable to harm them than it is to harm other living, feeling beings. We urge you to cancel future poultry festivals that celebrate the slaughter of chickens and instead reorganize the event as the South Carolina VegFest next year.

In place of a chicken festival and a chicken-cooking contest, will you please consider providing the community with a superior form of entertainment that everyone can enjoy. Participants could challenge themselves to make the best vegan chicken dishes or Southern-style plant-based meals. If you choose to move forward with a humane event, we’d be happy to become a sponsor of it and send delicious plant-based chicken tenders for all to sample.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk
President, PETA

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