Two Thoughts on Pandemics and the “Livestock Industry”

First, a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report states that ‘coronavirus’ aid in 2020 and 2021 overpaid many agricultural producers, especially for ‘livestock’ and grains (most of which feed livestock, not humans).

For decades, tons of government subsidies have enriched “farmers” (I put this in quotation marks because many of the biggest payments go to people who have little to do with farming in their everyday lives), and the way it’s structured, most of the subsidies go to livestock and plants to feed livestock, not plants grown to feed people.

Of course, the coronavirus aid packages were corrupt as hell beyond agriculture (notice the airlines who took the aid money, laid off their workers, then spent the money on share buybacks to juice their stock prices). Much more money went into these corrupt deals than the $2000 checks sent to ordinary people.

Still, we should fight this corruption where we can, and these subsidies entrench the livestock industry so they can resist regulation or even pressure from consumers (they can continue torturing and killing animals and polluting the environment even if everybody goes vegan and boycotts their products thanks to these government handouts). If you are a U.S. Citizen (& maybe even if you aren’t?) you can take action here.

Meanwhile, the price of eggs has gone up so dramatically in the United States that even I, a vegan, know that prices have gone up. (I never look at egg prices, but people talk about them a lot lately). This is in part due to an avian flu pandemic.

One argument against factory farming of animals is that they make pandemics more likely, including pandemics which can spread to humans. This essay argues that it’s only a matter of time until this particular avian flu pandemic spreads to humans in large numbers. I haven’t fact-checked the claims yet, but even if this particular essay is wrong, the general risk still exists.

After knowing for over a decade about the disease risk of factory farming, it feels weird to finally be so close to a livestock-industry-created pandemic in humans. It won’t change my behavior because a) I’m already vegan and b) I’m already covid cautious, and those same measures will protect me from avian flu (I hope) if it spreads between humans and c) I don’t have pets.

I used to think that if people really understood the pandemic risks of factory farming, they’d want to end it just to protect themselves (which would mean drastically reducing the consumption of animals since non-factory farming can’t produce nearly as much meat, milk, eggs, etc.) Seeing how many people are willing to risk long covid just to eat indoors in crowded restaurants with unknown ventilation, I’m not sure. I never would’ve expected that so many people want to eat at restaurants indoors so badly they’ll risk an infection with a 10% risk of months of chest pain and arrhytmias to do it. As someone who is dealing with months of chest pain and arrhytmia, even though I have the mildest of chest pains and the arrhytmias are infrequent and brief, my opinion is that I’d rather never step foot in a restaurant ever again in my life than risk going through this again. (Note: I don’t know whether a covid infection caused my problem, but even if the cause was something else, knowing that 10% of all covid infections cause this crap is reason enough for me to avoid covid.)

(And here I disagree with Sharon Astyk when she says “I STILL do not believe that ANYONE ON EARTH thinks it is worth it to walk around with headaches and confusion, no sense of smell or taste, and tachycardia so they can eat in restaurants in person and never cancel a haircut. Sorry, just don’t believe it,” I believe some people sincerely think that based on their behavior, and these are people who know about long covid so I don’t think it’s ignorance).

What was I saying? Oh yes, since so many people value eating in crowded indoor restaurants with unknown ventilation more than avoiding chest pain and arrhytmia, maybe people really do love eating beef, chicken, etc. so much that they think it’s worth causing pandemic which might kill millions of people.

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