Animal-rights organization Mercy For Animals (MFA) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)—the country’s oldest and largest Latino civil-rights organization—is calling on the public to go meat-free in solidarity with slaughterhouse workers, who have been at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their work conditions. As slaughterhouses have become COVID-19 hotspots, the coalition is calling on meat companies to adequately protect workers and to eliminate some of the worst animal cruelty in their operations. Their demands include:
- Slowing down slaughter speeds to reduce animal and worker injuries
- Banning live-shackle slaughter at poultry slaughterhouses, a particularly cruel slaughter method in which birds are roughly hung upside down by their legs and slaughtered
- Providing paid leave during for all workers who test positive for COVID-19 and providing personal protective equipment to all workers
- Enforcing physical distancing, ensuring daily testing, and disclosing COVID-19 cases at slaughterhouses
“While the rest of us are wearing masks and standing six feet apart, slaughterhouse workers are standing shoulder to shoulder, getting sick, and even dying to produce meat,” MFA President Leah Garcés told VegNews. “We are demanding meat producers slow down line speeds and eliminate live-shackle slaughter to protect workers and animals. By taking the pledge to go meat-free, people can show the meat industry that the lives of workers and animals are not expendable.”
In June, the Iowa chapter of the LULAC, along with and a coalition of workers, activists, physicians, and leaders across the country, launched a similar campaign asking consumers to boycott meat to bring awareness to the plight of slaughterhouse workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.