A group of doctors is urging the Governor of Arkansas to promote plant-based protein and ‘repurpose’ slaughterhouses.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a nonprofit organization featuring 12,000 physicians including Dr. Neal D. Barnard.
‘A safer food supply’
It has sponsored two billboards that will be installed in close proximity to the governor’s residence. They read: “Governor Hutchinson: Can Arkansas Switch to a Safer Food Supply Like Chickpeas Over Chickens? PromotePlantProtein.org.”
Earlier this year, PCRM filed a complaint to the Arkansas Department of Health as coronavirus cases among Arkansas meat and poultry workers were continuing to rise.
The Food and Environment Reporting Network reports more than 6,700 Arkansas slaughterhouse workers have tested positive for COVID-19. Moreover, a staggering 1,136 of those cases have occurred recently, since November 12, 2020.
“Many meat companies have taken steps to reduce the number of new infections,” says Dr. Christie Mitchell Cobb in the complaint, which was cosigned with PCRM’s Director of Nutrition Education Dr. Susan Levin, MS, RD.
“But, any slaughterhouses that continue to see new cases of COVID-19 should be shut down until all workers are vaccinated.
“While retaining the same workers, Arkansas companies should transition to cleaner, safer food production that avoids the hazards of large-scale meat and poultry processing. Arkansas-based Tyson Foods and other meat companies are also producing plant-based protein items in response to consumer demand, and these companies should continue to move in that direction.”
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Moreover, Levin added: “In Arkansas, health-conscious consumers are increasingly reaching for plant-based protein products, a trend accelerated by our current health emergency.
“America’s biggest food companies, such as Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, are producing products made with chickpeas and other healthful plant-based protein sources.
“This transition to plant protein also benefits farmers who grow black-eyed peas, soybeans, peanuts, pecans, chickpeas, and other crops. It’s a win-win trend that should be encouraged and assisted by state government.”
Last year, PCRM called for the complete closure of slaughterhouses due to the health risks they create.
Members from the orgaization held a protest outside the head office of Smithfield, a global pork giant, in Virginia. Throughout the protest, the doctors maintained social distancing protocol.
Moreover, they held signs saying ‘Support Workers, Close Meat Plants’, ‘Meat Worsens Diabetes & Blood Pressure’, and ‘Cholesterol Is Not Essential’.
Dr. Barnard also said: “Keeping Smithfield plants open harms the health of workers, the surrounding community, and consumers – all to line the pockets of the meat industry.”
Dr. Levin has also written directly to Governor Hutchinson with her proposal