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Going meatless is just what the doctor ordered | READER COMMENTARY

Local hospital officials have reported a spike in COVID-19 cases at the Tyson Foods Inc., poultry processing plant on the Eastern Shore Wednesday April 29, 2020, in Temperanceville, Va. Coronavirus cases among workers at poultry plants on Virginia's Eastern Shore have become an increasing concern for local health officials. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Local hospital officials have reported a spike in COVID-19 cases at the Tyson Foods Inc., poultry processing plant on the Eastern Shore Wednesday April 29, 2020, in Temperanceville, Va. Coronavirus cases among workers at poultry plants on Virginia's Eastern Shore have become an increasing concern for local health officials. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)(Steve Helber/AP)

When I first read that President Donald Trump signed an order mandating meat processing plants to remain open, my thoughts echoed those of your recent editorial, “Meatless Mondays? Potential coronavirus-caused supply chain shortages could lead to a healthier population, planet” (April 29). Would it really be such a bad thing if Americans were forced to decrease their meat consumption? For the sake of not only our environment, but the future of humankind, I don’t think it would be.

According to the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems, meat accounts for 56.6% of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the average American diet. Though dairy is the next largest culprit, it only makes up 18.3%. But there’s another immensely pressing issue at play. We are in the midst of a zoonotic pandemic, and the fact that three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases in humans originated in animals (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) must not be lost on us.

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When animals are forced into cramped, dirty and stressful conditions as they are in factory farms, disease can more easily occur and spread. We should be even more wary of creating situations ripe for zoonotic disease now that the entire world has seen the destruction such a pandemic can cause. We must drastically alter our relationship with the animal world and we can start by eating less meat.

Delaney Geraghty, Forest Hill

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