Want to Stop A Pandemic? Stop Eating Animals.
April 5, 2021
Karen Estensen Rubio
Karen Estensen Rubio is a writer and animal rights activist. Her work has appeared in Sentient Media and Counterpunch. She is a co-founder of Plant-Based Advocates (www.plantbasedadvocates.com), a grassroots group working to curb climate change, increase human health and alleviate the suffering of animals by advocating a shift to plant rich diets.
Pigs being transported to slaughter.
Pigs being transported to slaughter. Canada, 2012.

Trigger moments in human history awaken us to injustice and turn the tide of public perception. What happened in Waterloo, Iowa may not have been a watershed moment but as far as human folly, it was a doozy.

Between March and mid-April 2020, as the pandemic surged, managers at the Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo lay bets on how many employees would fall prey to COVID-19. This, while the brass told workers they had “a responsibility to keep working in order to ensure Americans don’t go hungry.”

Across the world, in the city of Guigang in southern China, high-rise pig buildings have risen within Yaji (meaning: Sacred) mountain. These concrete bunkers – up to nine stories high, with a 12-story unit underway – house millions of pigs. From infancy to lifetime confinement to slaughter, these pigs will never see the light of day.

Meanwhile, in early November 2020, Denmark gassed and buried 17 million mink after an outbreak of COVID-19 at a massive factory farm – only to have their rotting, gas-filled bodies start emerging from mass graves.

Are we in Hell yet, Dorothy?

COVID-19 vaccinations are well under way and, despite continuing deaths, it appears we’re finally wresting control from the deadly scourge that has plagued us for a year.

But before we resume life as we once knew it, let’s acknowledge an essential truth: COVID-19 and other pandemics are caused by animal agriculture and our reckless exploitation of the natural world.

“Let’s acknowledge an essential truth: COVID-19 and other pandemics are caused by animal agriculture and our reckless exploitation of the natural world.”

Factory farming is polluting our land, air and water. It’s accelerating species extinction, deforestation, ocean depletion, and global warming. Global biodiversity loss is especially shocking: The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Living Planet Report 2020 reveals an average 68% decline in the size of animal populations. A fifth of the Amazon rainforest has fallen in just 50 years to make way for cattle and their feed crops, soy and corn; the same scenario repeats itself throughout the world.

“In factory farms, we are creating monster zoonotic viruses that threaten our very survival.”

The despicable events at Tyson, millions of incarcerated pigs, and bloated corpses of discarded mink are but tiny chapters in a story of greed and arrogance writ large. Our food system is built on the slaughter of 70 billion land animals and trillions more fish per year and it is killing our environment.

It’s also killing us. The typical American diet, high in meat, dairy and processed foods, contributes to a host of “lifestyle” diseases: heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, certain cancers, and more. Many of these maladies are now known to cause higher morbidity from COVID-19.

While massive multi-national conglomerates dominate the meat and dairy market and make it difficult to inform the public, the truth is slowly getting out through activists and whistleblowers.

In May 2020, Matt Johnson of animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) filmed hundreds of pigs killed by ventilation shutdown – a gruesome practice in which hot air is piped into barns, slowly suffocating animals and roasting them alive. DxE and other groups are now asking California Governor Newsom to enact an immediate moratorium on all new factory farms and slaughterhouses; the petition can be found at nomorefactoryfarms.com.

Thousands of dead and dying Iowa Select Farm pigs subjected to “ventilation shutdown” on May 19, 2020.
Thousands of dead and dying Iowa Select Farm pigs subjected to “ventilation shutdown” on May 19, 2020.
Credit: Direct Action Everywhere

So, what are we waiting for? The movement toward a plant-based world is a juggernaut that won’t be stopped, but if we are to save our planet, we must speed it up. It’s the only food system that makes sense for our health – and indeed the survival of all life on Earth.

Originally published by Counterpunch Magazine.

Animal rightsRozali Telbis
How Rhetoric Shapes the Animal Rights Movement

How Rhetoric Shapes the Animal Rights Movement

Animal Rights

A terrified cow looks through an opening from the inside of a transport truck arriving at a Dutch slaughterhouse.

Open dialogue is an important tool for moving discourse forward and gaining a better understanding of the issues we face in our time. In the spirit of open dialogue, the following is my response to the essay Animal Rights and the Challenge of Activism.

In the essay, the author describes the different tactics used by animal rights activists to persuade non-vegans. She emphasizes the importance of free speech, open inquiry, and debate, in particular the importance of non-vegans’ ability to challenge vegans. But in doing so, she also unwittingly exposes how her own rhetoric might influence people in such a way that might undermine the animal rights movement. My response isn’t an attempt at a ‘take-down’ of the author, but instead it is a way to show how important language is in animal rights activism and how even those of us with the best intentions can fall into these traps.

CanadaTechnologyRozali Telbis
Update: Senate Passes Controversial Internet Censorship Bill

Update: Senate Passes Controversial Internet Censorship Bill


Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez

On February 2, 2023, the Senate passed Bill C-11, also known as the Online Streaming Act, with 43 senators voting ‘yea,’ and 15 voting ‘nay.’

The Senate proposed dozens of amendments to the bill, including highlighting the promotion of Indigenous languages and Black content creators; proposing an age verification system to restrict access to certain content; requiring the CRTC to be more flexible on determining what is deemed ‘Canadian enough’; and requiring the CRTC to focus on commercial content only.

Animal rightsMW
Animal Rights and the Challenge of Activism

Animal Rights and the Challenge of Activism


Painting by José Jiménez Aranda at The Walters Art Museum

“How do you know someone is vegan?” “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you!” We all know it. Animal Rights activists are annoying and pushy. They will ‘shove their beliefs down your throat’ when you are just trying to enjoy your lunch. Whether How I Met Your Mother or South Park is your show of choice, you will have seen this notorious creature represented on screen, and given the recent growth in the movement, you probably know someone in your own life who always ruins a dinner party. Maybe you, like me, are the annoying vegan.