Why Keeping Meat Plants Open Mistakes Meat Shortage For A Food Shortage

Why Keeping Meat Plants Open Mistakes Meat Shortage For A Food Shortage Now might be a good time to lean towards a plant-based diet — like this vegetarian burger pictured — both for our health and that of meat plant workers. (Unsplash)

President Donald Trump’s executive order mandating meat processing plants to stay open, despite growing coronavirus cases at meat plants, is rife with problems. It endangers the lives of thousands of workers and their communities.

An estimated 5,000 meat workers have contracted COVID-19, at least 20 have died from it and many communities near these plants are coronavirus hotspots. One hundred USDA meat inspectors have contracted the disease.

Putting thousands more in harm’s way by keeping the plants open requires careful cost-benefit analysis — assuming that there’s any gain that is worth lost lives. In this case, the answer to this problem is clear, at least to the country’s approximately 16.5 million vegetarians: the order is much ado about nothing. No one is going to starve without meat.

Why Keeping Meat Plants Open Mistakes Meat Shortage For A Food Shortage Meat plants across North America have closed; some for deep cleaning and some because of new coronavirus cases. Here Tyson Fresh Meats’ beef processing complex in Dakota City, Neb. (Tim Hynds/Sioux City Journal via AP)

A shortage in meat supply is certain, even if meat processing plants can and do comply with the order, because of recent plant closures. The good news is that this shortage might lead to silver linings: a healthier population and a healthier planet.

Plant-based diets are healthier

In the short term, more nutritious, plant-forward diets might contribute to better general health outcomes. Many of the underlying factors in the most serious and deadliest cases of COVID-19 are food-related: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

The racial disparities in these conditions — Black people suffer from them at higher rates than white people and most other racial groups — contribute to the racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths. They also explain racial disparities in food-related illnesses and deaths during non-pandemic times.


 Get The Latest From InnerSelf


One of the tools we have to combat these disparities is better access to healthy food. If Trump wants to solve the problem of a dwindling food supply due to dangerous working conditions at meat processing plants, he could focus on ensuring that healthy alternatives make their way to consumers’ plates.

Powerful lobbies

Because of the meat and other industries’ powerful lobbies, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables receive minimal subsidies under the new Farm Bill. Meat, on the other hand, gets a big boost.

Diverting financial support from a bloated industry to ones that are essential for human health, diverse agricultural practices and sustainability would represent a win for everyone. So why is the U.S. administration pretending that keeping the meat supply flowing is vital to consumers?

Eating meat is a choice. Vegetarians make up five per cent of the population. Many more Americans have chosen to make “meat substitutes” a regular part of their diets. These choices divert some profits away from the meat industry, which has fought back by convincing state legislatures to enact laws against using words like “meat” and “sausage” to describe plant-based products.

Trump’s order demonstrates that the industry has a similar influence over the executive branch.

Why and how to cook beans

What do consumers stand to lose in the face of a disrupted meat supply? They will suffer temporarily from a lack of choice. But that is something we all have to live with — in every aspect of our lives — as we work together to combat the spread of the virus.

There is also concern that people will go hungry because they don’t know how to cook beans or lentils. Here is how to do it: Soak beans for eight hours (overnight is easiest); rinse and add fresh water to beans at a ratio of about one part bean to four parts water and boil; simmer until beans are soft; add salt. Eat.

The meat industry, not consumers, has pushed for the executive order. It’s unlikely that very many people, if asked the question, “Are you willing to let someone die so you can enjoy bacon?” would say yes.

This era calls for flexibility, grace, compassion and creativity. The rising popularity of vegan TikTok videos speaks to a new openness to culinary discoveries.

There are other potential benefits of permanently reducing meat consumption. They include the reduction of worker exploitation in a dangerous environment, softening the impact of climate change and saving animals’ lives. Arguments based on animal welfare are inevitably unpopular. But when animal and human welfare converge, we should pay attention.

Trump’s order is premised on a lie: that a meat shortage is a food shortage. It is not. Shifting our diets away from meat will have immediate health benefits and ones that will last beyond this crisis. Let’s recognize this moment as an opportunity to save lives, now and in the future.The Conversation

About The Author

Andrea Freeman, Associate Professor of Law, William S. Richardson School of Law, Author of Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice, University of Hawaii

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Recommended Books:

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind -- by Peter Wayne.

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind -- by Peter Wayne.Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind. Dr. Peter M. Wayne, a longtime Tai Chi teacher and a researcher at Harvard Medical School, developed and tested protocols similar to the simplified program he includes in this book, which is suited to people of all ages, and can be done in just a few minutes a day.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


Browsing Nature's Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs
by Wendy and Eric Brown.

Browsing Nature's Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs by Wendy and Eric Brown.As part of their commitment to self-reliance and resiliency, Wendy and Eric Brown decided to spend a year incorporating wild foods as a regular part of their diet. With information on collecting, preparing, and preserving easily identifiable wild edibles found in most suburban landscapes, this unique and inspiring guide is a must-read for anyone who wants to enhance their family's food security by availing themselves of the cornucopia on their doorstep.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It -- edited by Karl Weber.

Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About ItWhere has my food come from, and who has processed it? What are the giant agribusinesses and what stake do they have in maintaining the status quo of food production and consumption? How can I feed my family healthy foods affordably? Expanding on the film’s themes, the book Food, Inc. will answer those questions through a series of challenging essays by leading experts and thinkers. This book will encourage those inspired by the film to learn more about the issues, and act to change the world.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

FROM THE EDITORS

Why Donald Trump Could Be History's Biggest Loser
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
Updated July 2, 20020 - This whole coronavirus pandemic is costing a fortune, maybe 2 or 3 or 4 fortunes, all of unknown size. Oh yeah, and, hundreds of thousands, maybe a million, of people will die…
Blue-Eyes vs Brown Eyes: How Racism is Taught
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
In this 1992 Oprah Show episode, award-winning anti-racism activist and educator Jane Elliott taught the audience a tough lesson about racism by demonstrating just how easy it is to learn prejudice.
A Change Is Gonna Come...
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
(May 30, 2020) As I watch the news on the events in Philadephia and other cities in the country, my heart aches for what is transpiring. I know that this is part of the greater change that is taking…
A Song Can Uplift the Heart and Soul
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I have several ways that I use to clear the darkness from my mind when I find it has crept in. One is gardening, or spending time in nature. The other is silence. Another way is reading. And one that…
Mascot for the Pandemic and Theme Song for Social Distancing and Isolation
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I came across a song recently and as I listened to the lyrics, I thought it would be a perfect song as a "theme song" for these times of social isolation. (Lyrics below the video.)