After ordering Beyond Meat burgers for his entire staff and documenting their reactions, Dr. Phillip Greenspan, a pulmonologist on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, spoke to TheirTurn about why he conducted this experiment.
“For years, I have encouraged my staff to reduce their meat consumption in order to improve their health, but I haven’t had much luck. When COVID-19, a disease that emerged because humans eat other animals, began killing my patients, I decided to step up my effort by showing them that plant-based alternatives are just as delicious as meat. I ordered Beyond Meat burgers from a restaurant near our office in Fairfield, Connecticut, and they loved it. Since this experiment, I’ve ordered a plant-based lunch for my staff every Thursday and talked to them about why making this change is healthier and safer for them, the planet and the animals. I’m reaching their brains and their hearts through their stomachs.”
Phillip Greenspan, a pulmonologist on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, orders Beyond Burgers for his staff. TheirTurn’s Donny Moss asks for their reactions.
Dr. Greenspan, who has been practicing medicine for 22 years, told TheirTurn that he and his family are moving in the direction of an exclusively plant-based diet.
Dr. Phillip Greenspan, a Connecticut-based pulmonologist, orders Beyond Burgers for his staff to introduce them to plant-based alternatives to meat.
During an interview on Fox News on April 4, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said that wet markets in “certain countries” should be shut down. While he did not specify the countries, he was referring to China, which is where COVID-19 is believed to have jumped from animal to human, and to other Asian countries that have similar wet markets that sell and slaughter live animals. Dr. Fauci made no mention of wet markets in the United States:
“I think they should shut down those things right away. It boggles my mind how, when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human/animal interface ,that we don’t just shut it down. There are certain countries in which this is very commonplace. I would like to see the rest of the world really lean with a lot of pressure on those countries that have that because what we’re going through right now is a direct result of that.”
A wet market in NYC where customers, including children and the elderly, handle live animals
“Why would Dr. Fauci call on world leaders to pressure countries in Asia to shut down their wet markets without calling for the closure of live animal markets in his own country?” said Jill Carnegie, co-organizer of Slaughter Free NYC, an advocacy group working to shut down NYC’s 80+ wet markets and slaughterhouses. “Do we need to wait for an outbreak of a novel strain of bird flu or swine flu before shutting down these breeding grounds of infectious disease?”
Wet markets in NYC sell at least 10 species of live animals and slaughter them on site for their customers.
Following Dr. Fauci’s remarks, several mainstream media news outlets, including CNN, ran substantive stories in which they aired footage of Asian wet markets, but they did not not address the widespread prevalence of wet markets in the United States. Through videos, letters, petitions and social media, animal advocacy groups are working to inform both the mainstream media and Dr. Fauci of the presence of wet markets in the United States, including three in Bensonhurst, the Brooklyn neighborhood where he was raised.
On April 7th, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit health organization of 12,000 physicians, sent a letter to the U.S. Surgeon General urging him to shut down live markets in the United States:
“There must not be another pandemic. To ‘prevent the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases’ in the United States, the Surgeon General must promulgate regulations that prohibit the sale, transfer, donation, other commercial or public offering, or transportation, in interstate or intrastate commerce, of live birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians to retail facilities that hold live animals intended for human consumption.”
Dr. Neal Barnard, PCRM’s President, announced the news on a live webcast with TV journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is also calling for the closure of wet markets. In a letter to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk wrote, “On behalf of PETA and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, we respectfully ask that you call for the immediate and permanent closure of these markets, in which dangerous viruses and other pathogens flourish.
In several American cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, animal advocacy groups have been, through lobbying, litigation and protest, sounding alarm bells about the wet markets for the past several years — long before the COVID-19 outbreak. In New York City, a lawsuit filed by neighbors of one annual wet market reached New York State’s highest court. The lawyer for the plaintiffs argued that the Court should mandate that the NYPD and Dept. of Health enforce the 15 City and State laws that are violated by this wet market. The Court of Appeals judges ruled that municipalities have discretion over which of its own laws to enforce.
While the wet markets in the United States do not sell bats and pangolins, the animals believed to have transmitted COVID-19 to humans, they do intensively confine thousands of animals, some of whom are visibly ill, in pens and cages where customers shop. In one Brooklyn wet market, where animals are used in an annual religious sacrifice, customers handle the animals themselves — purchasing live chickens and swinging them around their heads before bringing them to a ritual slaughterer. According to a toxicologist who conducted an investigation on behalf of area residents, the wet market activities “pose a significant public health hazard.”
Dozens of public health and animal rights advocates occupy the New York City Dept. of Health to demand that the Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, shut down a wet market that violates seven City health codes
New York City has over 80 wet markets – businesses that sell live animals to the public and slaughter them onsite. New York’s live animal markets are located in all five boroughs.
Since 2016, public health and animal rights advocates have been sounding alarm bells about the City’s wet markets, pleading with health officials and lawmakers to shut them down in order to prevent the transmission and spread of infectious disease. COVID-19 is believed to have been transmitted from animal to human in a wet market in Wuhan, China.
Sheep and chickens are among the approximately 10 different species of live animals sold at NYC’s wet markets
NYC’s wet markets sell approximately ten animal species, including goats, sheep, chickens, guinea hens, rabbits, pigeons, Muscovy ducks, and quail. The animals are confined in small cages or pens where they can sicken each other and the people who work and shop there. Animal feces, body parts, feathers and blood are tracked in and out by customers and pedestrians who then carry the refuse on to the subways and into their homes, offices and communities.
Wet markets, or live animal markets, are storefront slaughterhouses that sell live animals to public and slaughter them on site
“New York City’s wet markets are a ticking time bomb,” said Jill Carnegie, a co-organizer with Slaughter Free NYC, an organization advocating to shut down wet markets and other slaughterhouses in NYC. “If avian flu or another infectious disease is transmitted to just one human, it could spread very rapidly in New York City and beyond, as we have seen with COVID-19.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the advocates’ sense of urgency. Slaughter Free NYC is now asking Mayor Bill de Blasio, Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot and Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control Dr. Demetre Daskalakis to prohibit the slaughter of live animals in the five boroughs of New York. In February, the organization launched a petition with its demand.
In a letter to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NY State Department of Agriculture & Markets, Bonnie S. Klapper, a New York City-based attorney working on several cases involving animal agriculture, wrote that City and State health authorities are turning a blind eye to the well-documented health code violations
Click letter to view in full
“The NYC Department of Health claims that it has no regulatory authority over these markets and defers to NY State Department of Agriculture & Markets, but state health officials have told me that these wet markets are never inspected unless they receive numerous complaints,” Klapper told TheirTurn. “That said, no amount of oversight can prevent disease transmission in storefront slaughterhouses where sick animals are coming into contact with humans.”
PCRM Petition to the Surgeon General to outlaw live markets in the United State
On March 25th, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter to the Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) encouraging him to call for the permanent closure of [wet] markets: “Deadly outbreaks of mad cow disease, avian flu, swine flu, SARS, HIV, hoof-and-mouth disease and others have stemmed from capturing or farming animals for food. Live animal markets are perfect breeding grounds for diseases, which can jump from various others species to humans . . . If we’re to prevent future pandemics, we must heed the warning of top coronavirus researchers like Dr. Danielle Anderson, scientific director of the Duke-NUS Medical School, and cut them off at the source.”
In partnership with The Save Movement, an organization that stages vigils at slaughterhouses around the word, Slaughter Free NYC conducts vigils and educational outreach at New York City’s wet markets.
As New York City began to shut down due to the spread of COVID-19, approximately twenty public health and animal rights activists staged a rally at City Hall to demand that city and state health authorities shut down the 85 live animal markets and slaughterhouses in NYC. COVID-19, also known as the corona virus, is believed to have jumped to humans from animals being sold in a live animal market in Wuhan, China.
“Live markets, which are storefront slaughterhouses open to the public, are a petri dish of infectious diseases that jeopardize the health of all New Yorkers,” said Jill Carnegie, an organizer with Slaughter Free NYC.
Amid COVID-19 outbreak, public health and animal rights activists are asking New York City and State health officials, including NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot and Assistant Commission Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, to shut down the 85 live animal markets and slaughterhouses in NYC
After the corona virus outbreak was traced back to a “wet market” in Wuhan which sold wild and domesticated animals for meat, the Chinese government is reported to have shuttered live animal markets across the country.
“The pandemic didn’t happen to us; we brought it upon ourselves because we didn’t learn our lesson from bird flu, swine flu, mad cow, SARS and the many other infectious diseases that jumped to humans from the animals who we eat,” said Maureen Medina, an organizer with Slaughter Free NYC. “Mother Nature has sent us so many warnings, and we’ve put bandaids on all of them instead of taking the most obvious measure to prevent them, which is to switch to a plant-base diet.”
An estimated 85 live animal markets in NYC sell cows, chickens, goats, sheep, guinea pigs, rabbits and others animals who they slaughter on site
Slaughter Free NYC and The Save Movement have been staging vigils and conducting educational outreach at live markets in NYC. Organizers hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a wake-up call for elected officials and for the New York City Department of Health and NY State Ag & Markets who have, until now, ignored their pleas to shutter the city’s live markets. Slaughter Free NYC has launched a petition.
Slaughter Free NYC Petition to Shut Down Live Animal Markets and Slaughterhouses in heavily populated five boroughs of New York
Slaughter Free NYC, a grassroots animal rights group advocating to shut down the nearly 100 slaughterhouses in the five boroughs of New York City, staged a protest at a “live market” in Inwood, a largely Hispanic neighborhood in Upper Manhattan. Live markets are storefront slaughterhouses where consumers can pick out animals in cages and have them slaughtered on site.
The protesters were joined by local area residents who assert that the slaughterhouse compromises their quality of life by polluting their sidewalk with contaminants and exposing them to infectious disease. “You never saw that in a good avenue,” said a local Dominican American man of the slaughterhouse. “This is Hispanic neighborhood. Poor people. They don’t know the infections this could bring to you.”
Activists with Slaughter Free NYC stage a protest and conduct educational outreach at a slaughterhouse in upper Manhattan
Mariolis Espinal, a woman in her 20s who lives on the same street as the slaughterhouse, joined the protest to speak out against both the public health risks and the animal cruelty. “I walk my dog through here every morning, and they leave a lot of dead animals on the floor. It’s wrong, so why is it still happening?”
At live markets in NYC, customers choose the live animals who the want to buy, and workers slaughter them on site.
Slaughter Free NYC launched in January 2020, when local activists learned of a New York City mandate that prohibits issuing new slaughterhouse licenses to any location within 1,500 feet of a residence, which is most of NYC. “The language of this mandate, passed unanimously, illustrates the very reason why all slaughterhouse operations should cease within city limits, not only new businesses,” said Jill Carnegie, a co-organizer of Slaughter Free NYC. “These slaughterhouses not only pose a health threat, but they also jeopardize property values, exploit workers who are mostly undocumented immigrants, and dramatically impact quality of life for neighborhood residents with horrible odors and sounds of animals fighting for their lives.”
Before the vigil began, several activists entered the live market to document the conditions in which the chickens are held prior to slaughter. “You can hear them screaming. They’re intensively confined. They cannibalize each other. They’re dead in the cages,” said Slaughter Free NYC co-organizer Maureen Medina.
Chickens are stored in feces covered cages until they are purchased and slaughtered
The group is flooding the city reporting mechanism, 311, and New York State’s Agriculture and Markets agency with violation complaints. “Live Markets operate in a grey area between multiple city, state, and federal agencies. According to Jill Carnegie, these agencies consistently pass responsibility to each other, leaving these slaughterhouses free to violate the laws and with little to no oversight.
After customers select the live chickens who they want to purchase, slaughterhouse workers grab them from their cages and bring them into the back room to be killed
“Slaughterhouses are bad for everyone – animals, workers, communities, and the planet,” added Carnegie, “They have a devastating impact on public health and even undermine our struggles against prejudice, inequality, injustice, and violence.”