For those unaware (as I was up until a few days ago), South Korea has recently faced an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. This disease is responsible for decimating animal populations in a variety of countries over the last century, and the number of animals which have suffered the fate of being culled in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease is well into the tens of millions. During the UK’s outbreak alone in 2001 the alleged death total was over 10 million.
The important thing to note is that foot-and-mouth disease is not the killer here though. Roughly 2.5% of cases of foot-and-mouth turn out to be fatal, although many animals who recover are left with permanent damage in the way of being more susceptible to future infections, heart trouble, fertility, and more. The main issue for humans is that it effects production of dairy. After cattle have suffered from foot-and-mouth disease, their dairy production rate may be significantly lower. Now, obviously this shouldn’t be a problem, but due to the multi-billion dollar animal-based food industry, it is. This leads me to say then that foot-and-mouth disease is a man-made disease due to the fact that its outbreaks are the result of farming animals in close quarters, and that of the incredibly large number of animals that have been killed due to foot-and-mouth disease, about 97.5% of them would not have lost their lives without man’s interference. Thus, without the meat and dairy industries, the cases of foot-and-mouth would be far fewer and have a far lower mortality rate.
So, I feel that if you are not vegan then you are supporting the industry that results in this disease and the holocaustic reaction which humans take in order to ensure that milk production continues to run smoothly once the outbreak has died down. Despite various containment methods, such as usual sterilisation of equipment, quarantines, and attempts at vaccination, the only real method of preventing the spread of foot-and-mouth disease is through mass culling – millions and millions of animals have lost their lives just to prevent a disease from spreading which is largely non-fatal, but may affect milk production. Does this not seem ludicrous?
I am aware that the disease is painful, and in some cases can result in disability (but this is mainly due to secondary infections which are a result of poor aftercare), but it usually lasts only 2-3 weeks. If these animals were pets then they would be cared for intensively, given effective aftercare, and would undoubtedly be fit and healthy in under a couple of months.
Which brings me onto the tragedy and inhumanity of the Korean pig slaughter over the last few months. Firstly, the degree of ignorance surrounding this disease has been astounding. There have been reports of people killing their dogs in fear that it could be spread via them. Key health experts have also feared that the disease could be transmittable to humans – something which is so incredibly rare that it is almost impossible.
The real problem with the recent South Korean cull though is the cruelty involved in it. Usual culling methods for food-and-mouth crises involve killing the animals before burning their carcasses. In South Korea, this was deemed too ineffective and expensive, thus, despite some efforts to vaccinate animals, others suffered horrifically being buried alive.
It was Gandhi who said that “the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated” and from this shocking exposé into Korean culling methods, we can safely say that South Korea is not so great. At least 3 million pigs have suffered this shocking fate so far, and over 100,000 cows have also been killed (although I’m not sure if they’ve been buried alive).
The disease continues to hamper North Korea’s meat industry, as laws have not been strict enough to prevent the sales of infected meat. To me the simple answer is to abolish the meat industry altogether. Whilst this may be a drastic option, it is surely the most harmless. I defy even the most hardened meat eater to watch the following video, filmed by Korean animal activists Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) and not be disturbed. But the important thing to remember is that this would not be happening were it not for the meat and dairy industry. It is time to end this, and it is time to go vegan.
People regularly give out their condolences to others when they face tragedy and anguish, yet even animal activists treat animal deaths as a statistic most of the time. So let me dedicate this post to the pigs who have died in Korea this year, and I hope they are never forgotten. It’s time we progressed though, as I find it hard to see humanity heading further backwards than this, although inevitably we probably will.