Author Jonathan Safran Foer recently penned an extensive opinion piece published in the New York Times titled “The End of Meat is Here.” The op-ed explains that the COVID-19 pandemic has given the world an opportunity to reconsider what is essential in our lives—including eating animals, which is endangering slaughterhouse workers as their workplaces have been identified as coronavirus hot spots.
“Our hand has been reaching for the doorknob for the last few years. COVID-19 has kicked open the door,” Foer writes. “We cannot protect against pandemics while continuing to eat meat regularly. Much attention has been paid to wet markets, but factory farms, specifically poultry farms, are a more important breeding ground for pandemics. Further, the Centers for Disease Control reports that three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic—the result of our broken relationship with animals.”
Foer points out that, despite the widely reported effects of factory farming on communities, animals, and human health, eating meat is deeply embedded in our culture. However, an increasing number of people are realizing the inevitability of the impending change of our meat-centric diets because of the risks involved.
“Don’t we need animal protein? No … If we let the factory-farm system collapse, won’t farmers suffer? No. Can’t we work with factory-farming corporations to improve the food system? No,” he continues. “With the horror of pandemic pressing from behind, and the new questioning of what is essential, we can now see the door that was always there. As in a dream where our homes have rooms unknown to our waking selves, we can sense there is a better way of eating, a life closer to our values. On the other side is not something new, but something that calls from the past—a world in which farmers were not myths, tortured bodies were not food, and the planet was not the bill at the end of the meal.”
Foer is known for writing several books on the topic of consuming animals, including Eating Animals and his newest book We Are the Weather.