‘Go 100% Vegan’ Message Heads to Smithfield’s Boardroom

New Shareholder PETA U.S. Will Call On Company to Stop Animal Slaughter, Save Workers' Lives by Producing Exclusively Vegan Products

For Immediate Release:
June 1, 2020

Contact:
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Smithfield, Va. – Smithfield has already diversified into producing Pure Farmland brand vegan sausages, burgers, and meatballs, and now that thousands of its slaughterhouse workers have contracted COVID-19, a PETA Asia representative will attend the annual meeting of Smithfield’s Hong Kong–based parent company, WH Group, in Hong Kong on Tuesday to ask a shareholder question on behalf of PETA U.S. The organization purchased stock in the company last month and has offered to cover the costs of retraining employees to make vegan meats. The question that will be asked is this: “When will Smithfield switch to producing exclusively vegan meats?”

PETA’s involvement comes in the wake of more than 20,000 novel coronavirus infections and at least 76 deaths linked to outbreaks in slaughterhouses in the U.S. alone. The group points out that fast line speeds and close-quartered working conditions—in which workers are exposed to blood, offal, and animal waste—make virus transmission nearly unavoidable. Factory farms, where animals are raised before entering the slaughterhouse, are also breeding grounds for deadly diseases. Swine flu, for example, originated in factory-farmed pigs and has killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Meanwhile, the demand for vegan meats is skyrocketing: Sales were up 158% year-on-year and have gone up 454% during the current pandemic.

“Smithfield could respond to consumer demand by recognizing that American tastes are rapidly turning to veggie burgers, vegan sausage, and other plant-based products that don’t threaten the health of everyone on the planet,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “As a shareholder, PETA U.S. is calling on Smithfield to seize tomorrow’s market today and convert its slaughterhouses into vegan meat production facilities.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—has also purchased stock in companies owned in North America including Hormel, Sanderson Farms, Maple Leaf Foods, Kraft Heinz (parent company of Oscar Mayer), and Tyson, in order to push them to produce exclusively vegan meats.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind