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Josh Balk: How to Change America’s Cruelest Industry

Species Unite 28 May 2020 150

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“The time to begin phasing out the intensive confinement systems in which we raise billions of animals is now. We need to accelerate society’s direction of reducing demand for meat from animal factory farms and shift instead to more of an emphasis on healthier — and safer — plant-based foods. As our population grows, plant-based foods are also more sustainable and affordable for societies globally.

Unless we — especially legislators and the food industry — make changes immediately, the concerning practices in animal agribusiness will remain. Only in transforming our food system can we eliminate the tinderbox ready to explode in our country. We can’t afford to wait.”

Social distancing is the key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. We know this. It has worked and is still working. But, we also know that in this absolutely insane time, a time where we are fully aware that staying apart does indeed saves lives, just the opposite is taking place at factory farms and meat processing plants all across America. Slaughterhouses are being forced to stay open and their workers must remain in close proximity to one another to be able to get their jobs done. And, they are getting sick and they are dying.

And, on factory farms, billions of animals are “living” in cramped, filthy, overcrowded spaces with almost no room to move their antibiotic-fueled bodies – conditions that are creating a perfect storm for the next zoonotic disease to emerge and spread. This threat is nothing new, diseases have already come from factory farms – we’ve just gotten lucky in terms of their spread. But the clock is ticking.

Josh Balk is has been a global leader in animal protection for the past 20 years. He is the Vice President of Farm Animal Protection for the Humane Society of the United States, and he’s the co-founder of plant based, food manufacturing company, JUST, as in JUST Mayo and my favorite invention of the 21st century, JUST Egg.

Josh has spent a couple of decades focusing on and fighting against extreme confinement on America’s factory farms, meaning practices like cramming many chickens into small battery cages for their entire lives, and keeping mother pigs in gestation crates, which are small metal cages that fit around their bodies like steel coffins, and days old calves in tiny veal crates where they can barely move. These are some of the cruelest practices on the planet and they are the status quo at factory farms in most American states.

Josh and his team have scored huge victories on changing animal welfare policies at some of the worlds largest companies and by changing legislation in many states. But there’s still a long way and a lot of states to go. And, there are still billions of animals suffering.

And, right now, while we are in the midst of a public health crisis that started because of how we treat animals, we need to demand that our food industry change; otherwise we’re setting ourselves up for a much larger crisis.

Josh is a hero and a world changer and many humans and millions of animals are lucky to have this guy in their corner.

Species Unite is a podcast focused on those who fight the good fight on behalf of animals around the globe. It's a collection of the stories of the people who are healing the world one creature at a time.

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