Smithfield’s COVID-19 Closure Prompts PETA Appeal

With Fatal Viruses Linked to Animal Flesh, Smithfield Is Urged to Reinvent Itself as an Exclusively Vegan-Meat Producer

For Immediate Release:
April 14, 2020

Brooke Rossi 202-483-7382

Smithfield, Va. – After a Smithfield pig slaughterhouse in South Dakota was shuttered because nearly 300 of its employees tested positive for COVID-19, PETA sent a letter this afternoon calling on Smithfield Foods CEO Kenneth Sullivan to get ahead of the curve and transition to producing exclusively vegan meat. PETA is offering to help cover the cost of retraining any of the company’s employees who don’t already have experience making its existing vegan meat products.

“The filthy conditions inside slaughterhouses and meat markets are breeding grounds for swine flu, SARS, avian flu, and other diseases and threaten the health of every human being on the planet,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on Smithfield to reinvent itself as a producer of healthy, humane, profitable, and safe vegan meat.”

Swine flu began on a U.S. factory farm, and the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese “wet market,” where live and dead animals were sold for human consumption. Health authorities confirm that influenza viruses and coronaviruses are zoonotic (transmissible from other animals to humans). Grocery store sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal “products” have grown 29% in the past two years to $5 billion.

Earlier this week, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—held a demonstration outside the shuttered slaughterhouse. Photos are available here.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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