With 235,121 deaths worldwide and more than three million people infected with Coronavirus this Friday, May 1, the planet seems to have plunged into an unprecedented crisis. Everything would be gone according to scientists in a marketAnimals living in Wuhan, China, now considered the epicenter of the epidemic. Blasting News has looked into the treatment of animals at Covid-19 time. We spoke with Anissa Putois, spokesperson for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA) France association, which defends an ethics in the treatment of animals.
Public opinion seems to be more aware of the methods of animal abuse with these videos that go viral faster through social networks, do you feel that you are gaining ground?
It’s much easier now to have access to this information for everyone. You don’t have to wait for it to be in the media. People can see the videos for themselves and share them with loved ones. It’s something that really helped. We see in the last two / three years, an advance of the animal cause and consciousness in society.
We also see an awareness but also a transformation of the way of life.
We see a lot of people who stop eating meat, who become vegan, who try to wear vegan clothes. This is something that also matters to companies that are adapting to consumer demand today. We see a lot of restaurants and especially supermarkets and food chains which release alternative products to meat.
We also see fashion brands that stop fur, who start making vegan leather and offer all kinds of clothing and ranges that are not made of materials that come from animal exploitation.
The epidemic of Coronavirus would be part of the Chinese market of Wuhan where are sold among others bats, pangolins and crocodile meat. What is your position on these practices today?
These markets are what are called « wet » markets, so live animals where exotic species are sold but sometimes also animals that we eat here in Europe like the chicken or the pig, but which suffer just as much.
These are species penned together in cages, it’s completely unsanitary. These markets, few people had heard of in Europe before this epidemic. The first Coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) had its origins in a similar market, so it’s something you really can’t ignore anymore. PETA is now asking WHO to shut down « wet » markets around the world. They are found in Asia but also in Europe. It is a risk for a new pandemic like the one that affects us today. It should also be noted that many epidemics have emerged from more traditional farms such as avian flu which comes from chickens, ducks or geese.
With confinement, we can see wild boars in the streets of Barcelona, ducks on the Paris ring road … the animals seem to take up their quarters. Is it a lull that makes you smile?
Yes, we have seen a lot of videos of animals coming back to their places when they come to cities, like these goats who come to play in children’s parks. They are a pleasure to see in this difficult period. We hope that by seeing these videos, people will remember that we must respect these animals which are curious individuals and who like to play.
With the Covid-19 crisis, can we say that the animal cause has improved with the cancellation of human activities?
We have seen very encouraging things like the cancellation of bullfights and bullfights this year. Unfortunately, these bulls will surely be killed next year, so that only postpones their suffering. But there is also enough positive. Many people adopt pets in shelters because they feel a little lonely in confinement. It is heart-warming to see these animals in homes rather than in cages. Also, at the very beginning of the crisis, we saw that people turned to boxes of vegetables, pasta, things that are easy to keep and especially vegan.
We didn’t see many people going to buy meat from a butcher. So that’s also a good thing that came out of this crisis.
The impact of Coronavirus on economies around the world is well established and the stock market is currently in crisis. Did your association take advantage of this situation to make its entry into the capital in certain fashion companies such as LVMH or Kering? For what reasons) ?
LVMH it was already the case a few years ago indeed. For Kering, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Guess and another ten, PETA United States is an association with a limited budget so it was time to acquire capital.
It was an opportunity to boost these brands. They were contacted because they also produce wool, mohair, cashmere. We have a lot of investigations showing that sheep and goats are tackled on the ground, killed, sometimes exported to slaughterhouses without regulation. By sitting on the board of directors, we want to ask questions, to propose resolutions to change their habits.
Social distancing measures prevent any gathering. However, you are known for your actions. How do you continue to be active in the fight against animal experiments?
We had to adapt. There are always ways to get attention, to raise awareness. Last week we organized a « virtual world action » with small figurines protesting for World Animal Day in the laboratories. It was an opportunity not to miss this day to raise awareness, to call for different methods in laboratories that cause a lot of suffering.
Do you also educate children on the issue of animal abuse?
What is interesting with children is that they have an innate sensitivity. They don’t want to harm animals. For a child, the bond and respect already exists with the animal. It’s much easier to explain to him why not harm animals and how. We can use this moment when everyone is confined to explain to the children “that we cannot go out, we are deprived of our freedom of movement, the animals that we see in circuses, marine parks, in cages for them it is their permanent situation for their whole life whereas for us it is a temporary situation ”.
A certain awareness was noticed and our habits were shaken up with this unprecedented crisis. Are you thinking of changing some of your old practices? Have you set yourself new perspectives?
This is a new world in which we will emerge. For PETA in particular, we see that most of the major epidemics of recent years, all the diseases always have an animal origin and often it is when the animals are exploited for the consumption of meat therefore it is another reason which is urgent to switch to a more animal-friendly lifestyle and diet.
We will always benefit from veganism, much better for our health, obviously better for animals and we know that it is much better for the planet.