Amid Efforts to Curb and Cure COVID-19, PETA Gift Aims to Help Philanthropic Puzzle Enthusiast Piece Together How Vital It Is to End Meat Consumption
For Immediate Release:
April 6, 2020
Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382
Seattle – Bill Gates is helping to lead the fight against COVID-19, so PETA is sending the known puzzle aficionado a special gift: a customized jigsaw puzzle that spells out the link between deadly pandemics and killing animals for food—as well as a note urging him to address the source of the plague and encourage everyone to go vegan.
“Preventing the next pandemic means shutting down filthy live-animal markets, slaughterhouses, and factory farms, where pathogens that cross the species barrier thrive,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “Social distancing is good, but PETA is urging Bill Gates to help combat this threat at the source by advocating for a vegan world.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—notes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 75% of recent infectious diseases affecting humans began in animals.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to Gates follows.
April 6, 2020
Co-Chair and Trustee
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dear Mr. Gates,
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), including our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, in response to your call for a nationwide shutdown to help stop the spread of COVID-19 as well as to news reports that you are funding a vaccine. We applaud your efforts to help combat this global pandemic. Also, knowing that you enjoy puzzles, we’ll be sending you one with an important reminder: From swine flu and Ebola to bird flu and coronaviruses, the public health risks associated with the consumption of animals are growing.
While social distancing, sheltering in place, and racing to find a vaccine are all important factors in containing COVID-19, it is urgent to address the source of the problem. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 75% of recently emerged infectious diseases in humans began in animals. SARS, which originated in bats, claimed 774 lives. Swine flu, or H1N1—which originated in pigs—killed as many as 575,400 people. And the COVID-19 death toll has already surpassed 70,000.
Zoonotic diseases aren’t limited to a single country or to wet markets—wherever animals are bred, intensively confined in their own filth, and slaughtered, humans risk creating another pandemic. In a paper published in 2018, Belgian spatial epidemiologist Marius Gilbert found that more “conversion events” for bird flu—in which a not very pathogenic strain of the virus becomes more dangerous—had occurred in the U.S., Europe, and Australia than in China, where it originated.
Now, while the world is battling the current pandemic—which originated in a wet market—it’s clear that what our puzzle points out is true: Enough is enough.
As the world faces unprecedented losses of many kinds because of COVID-19, how to make our planet a kinder, greener, healthier place is a puzzle that’s easily solved. We hope you will focus on the big picture: The fetish for flesh is killing us, and a vegan world must become the new normal. We encourage you to call for this change. Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk