Veganism, on the surface, appears to only affect animals and their quality of life. How could eating meat impact minorities? The truth is that animal agriculture and the meat and dairy industry does affect minority groups, especially people of colour, in a big way.
Within factory farms, a large percentage of workers are people of colour, and there are also large amounts of undocumented workers. Many employers see undocumented workers as the perfect recruits as they are less likely to complain about the dangerous working conditions and low wages.
Workers are needed to perform various tasks, including castrating male pigs, determining the gender of chicks and killing the males (who are deemed a waste product of the egg industry), removing dead or dying animals from their cages and packing animals for transport to the slaughterhouse. Workers are expected to perform these tasks at a rate that may compromise their health due to the level of efficiency that the company has to work at to maintain profits. Because of this, temporary undocumented workers often carry out these tasks, as companies know they are unlikely to complain.
There are many health and safety hazards within factory farms. For example, workers often inhale dangerous levels of particulate matter, which can cause respiratory irritation or illness, as well as hydrogen sulfide gases, which causes dry skin, eye irritation and chronic coughs and ammonia, which can damage the cilia of the throat. These particles come from many sources, including dry fecal matter and bacterial endotoxins. Many employees will continue to work at factory farms despite these conditions because of their reliance on a stable income.
Most people fail to realise that 99% of all animal products in the US come from animals raised in factory farms. This means that when you buy meat products, you are funding the exploitation of both animals and people. You can make a difference to people’s quality of life by not buying from meat and dairy companies which take advantage of undocumented workers, migrants and people of colour and put profits before the health and safety of their employees. Choose compassion and go vegan – for the animals, for the people and for the planet.