Life After Lockdown: Our Chance to Rebuild the World
There’s no doubt about it: this is a time for reflection – a pivotal point in our history when we can learn from our past mistakes and commit to making this world better for everyone.
Over the last few centuries – and especially in recent decades – humankind has made great progress in becoming more compassionate, valuing justice and freedom, and promoting and safeguarding the rights of all human beings. However, in our fervent pursuit of prosperity, many of us have failed to recognise a simple truth: we are one species among millions. Every choice we make – from the food we eat and the clothes we wear to the way we entertain ourselves – has an impact on the planet and the animals we share it with.
Around 1 million species are threatened with extinction because of human activity, and the climate change we have caused has brought ecosystems to the brink of collapse. Intensive factory farming causes enormous suffering to billions of animals every year and breeds killer pathogens such as flu viruses. Deforestation to grow feed for farmed animals is destroying the lungs of the Earth. And the toxic chemicals used to stop animal-derived materials from decomposing are poisoning our air and waterways.
When we emerge from lockdown, we must strive to fix the problems we’ve created and to show Mother Nature and our fellow animals the respect they deserve. Here’s how:
1. Stop Eating Animals
Animals are intelligent, sentient beings who can feel pain and suffer, just as we can. Every year, humans breed them by the billions, imprison them in cages, and deny them the opportunity to see sunlight or breathe fresh air. They’re gassed or electrocuted, their throats are cut, or they’re boiled alive, all for a fleeting moment of taste. For some of us, this is all the reason we need to go vegan. For those who need more convincing, here are a few other reasons:
- Many experts believe that the coronavirus outbreak originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China, where humans had direct contact with live animals and dead animal flesh. Filthy, severely crowded farms and animal markets are the perfect petri dishes for pathogens to emerge. Exploiting animals makes them stressed and immunosuppressed, allowing diseases to spread rapidly and be transmitted to humans – as we’ve seen with outbreaks of swine flu, bird flu, SARS, MERS, and Ebola. To reduce the risk of killer diseases, we must stop farming and otherwise exploiting animals.
- To keep animals alive in disease-ridden conditions that could otherwise kill them, animals on factory farms are routinely fed antibiotics. This leads to the development of bacteria resistant to the antibiotics that we rely on to fight infections. The discovery of penicillin in 1928 changed the course of medicine, yet, not even 100 years later, our insatiable demand for meat is threatening to send us back to a time when we could die from a splinter.
- The World Health Organization states that consuming processed meat causes cancer. Each person who goes vegan reduces their own risk of suffering from heart disease, obesity, cancer, strokes, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and numerous other health concerns. Find out more here.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the world’s transportation systems combined. According to the United Nations, a global shift towards a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.
2. Stop Wearing Animals
Every year, billions of animals are abused and slaughtered for their skin, fur, wool, or feathers. Foxes killed for fur are crammed into filthy wire-mesh cages, sheep are mutilated and beaten for wool, and cows are forced to walk hundreds of miles to be slaughtered in front of each other for leather in Bangladesh, the source of much of the world’s leather.
Not only is the production of animal-derived materials cruel, it’s also a huge cause of pollution, and leather is the most environmentally damaging material used for clothing. Fortunately, thanks to the availability of numerous innovative vegan materials that don’t harm animals or the planet, it’s easy to make compassionate fashion choices.
3. Stop Testing on Animals
Animal testing is bad science. Each year, millions of animals are cut, burned, poisoned, infected with debilitating illnesses, and deprived of food, water, or sleep to test drugs – even though over 90% of drugs that pass animal tests fail in human trials. Not only are animal experiments morally indefensible, they also hinder medical progress.
At this critical time, many scientists working to develop much-needed treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 have decided not to waste time on useless animal tests and instead to go straight to human trials. This should serve as a wake-up call to the scientists who still cling to cruel and archaic tests on animals – they must switch to cutting-edge, human-relevant methods.
4. Stop Using Animals for Entertainment
Orcas forced to swim in endless circles around cramped concrete tanks, donkeys made to carry tourists on their backs in the scorching heat, wild animals frantically pacing in barren zoo enclosures, and bulls slowly tortured and killed in front of an applauding crowd – these are just some of the ways animals suffer in the entertainment industry.
More and more humans are coming to understand that other animals aren’t props or taxis, but there are still many who unwittingly support cruel spectacles and activities. During the coronavirus pandemic, many animal-exploiting outfits have temporarily shut down. By seeking out thrills for which no animals are abused and patronising shows in which only talented, willing humans participate, we can ensure that these businesses ultimately close altogether.
5. Stop Abusing Animals in Any Other Way
During these difficult times, many of us are finding comfort in the unconditional love shown to us by our animal companions. And it doesn’t take much for us to return the favour by giving them the care and attention they deserve – good food, a comfortable bed, and a rub or a scratch often suffice. However, animals exploited in the pet trade are never this fortunate. Pedigree dogs and cats are bred with painful mutations for the sake of arbitrary “beauty” standards and are treated like nothing more than lucrative breeding machines by unscrupulous breeders.
In the exotic-animal trade, snakes are often kept in tanks so small that they’re never able to stretch out fully, causing them immense pain and stress. Wild animals don’t belong in our living rooms – they should be free to swim, slither, fly, and frolic in their natural habitats.
If you’re willing and able to take on the lifelong commitment of caring for an animal companion, never buy one from a breeder – adopt one (or two!) from a shelter.
We Must Change
When the COVID-19 outbreak is over, we can’t simply “go back to normal”. To create a better world, we must expand our circle of compassion to all living, feeling beings – for their sake and our own. We don’t have to choose who’s more deserving of our attention or love. In addition to tackling poverty, fighting for social justice, and protecting vulnerable people in our communities, we must turn our backs on the industries that exploit, abuse, and kill billions of animals every year. And doing so is easier than you might think.
To start your vegan adventure, order a copy of PETA’s free vegan starter kit:
To join the growing movement to help animals and end speciesism, join PETA’s Action Team: