Cluck, no! Why choosing chicken over beef won’t save us

by Chloë Waterman, climate-friendly food program manager

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted how deeply interconnected and fragile our food system is. Our highly concentrated meat processing infrastructure buckled early in the pandemic, and to date, more than 57,000 meatpacking workers became infected with COVID-19. Lines for food banks stretched down blocks. Diet-related chronic disease became one of the biggest risk factors for hospitalization and death from the virus. People of color bear the largest share of COVID-19 infections, deaths, and economic suffering.

Here are eight reasons why serving chicken instead of beef is the wrong solution:

1. There is no shortage of replacements for beef that are healthier, more climate-friendly, and more economical than chicken.

2. Chicken processing plants are among the most dangerous places to work — especially during COVID-19.

3. Chicken carries the highest risk of foodborne illnesses and could be the vector for the next pandemic.

4. The chicken industry is depleting and degrading our scarce water resources, including by creating dead zones.

5. Increasing consolidation in the chicken industry harms farmers.

6. Consuming chicken has adverse effects on human health.

7. Chicken farms are a major source of air pollution.

8. Replacing beef with chicken will lead to more animal suffering.

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