As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India is releasing video footage recorded at live-animal markets (or "wet markets") across India revealing dog slaughter, a wildlife-meat trade, and shockingly filthy conditions as well as rampant violations of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; and The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. COVID-19 is widely believed to have first infected humans at wet market in China through wildlife, though one theory links the disease to factory-farmed pigs. PETA India is calling on authorities to close down all such live-animal meat and wildlife markets and follow the lead of China, where there is a plan to phase out live-poultry markets like those found throughout India because they risk spreading disease.
The footage shows men at Ghazipur Murga Mandi in Delhi slitting live chickens' throats, skinning the birds, and sorting through their flesh, which was soaked in blood and guts, with their bare hands – as well as bags of live, struggling crabs and eels at a fish market in Malancha, West Bengal. Captured dogs were killed and sold for meat at the Keera Bazaar in Dimapur, Nagaland. (Nagaland has just decided to stop dog-meat sales, but the illegal trade continues in other states.) In Manipur, sellers at the Nute Bazar handled the charred remains of wild animals including monkeys, wild boars, porcupines, and deer – and at Churachandpur market, meat from various wild animals was sold.
"The next deadly virus will be just around the corner as long as filthy 'wet markets' filled with raw meat and sick and stressed animals are permitted to operate," says PETA India Vegan Outreach Coordinator Dr Kiran Ahuja. "PETA India is calling for the closure of these Petri dishes for pandemics."
SARS and various deadly bird flus, including H5N1, which has a 60% mortality rate in humans, have been linked to Chinese live-animal meat markets, too. Indian chicken farms are periodically plagued by bird flu. Other diseases which can infect humans – including MERS, swine flu, and even HIV and Ebola – were also traced back to animals.
PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to eat" – notes that in addition to supporting plant-food farmers and helping to combat infectious diseases, each person who goes vegan reduces their risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and spares sensitive animals daily suffering and a terrifying death.