During this time of fear and uncertainty, everyone is seeking protection and solutions against the spreading of COVID-19. As a consequence, two goods have become extremely popular worldwide after the coronavirus outbreak: hand sanitisers and face masks. Many governments are enacting measures to prevent the overpricing of these items, since some shops tried to increase the price ‘up to 6000%’, as reported by the Italian newspaper Il Quotidiano. Even the non-profit organisation Peta has been recently in the eye of the storm, as people are wondering whether Peta’s face mask is the right way to promote the vegan cause.
Why are Peta selling face masks?
‘Meat markets breed killer diseases. Go vegan’. This catchphrase is blazoned on the face masks sold on the Peta U.S. online shop. In the press release issued on February 28, it is specified that ‘Peta is urging people to go vegan in the face of the coronavirus crisis because it’s the only way to cut off animal-borne pathogens at the source’. As a matter of fact, many viruses like SARS or the avian flu are reported as zoonotic by the main health authorities, and now it seems that the link between the coronavirus outbreak and the trade of bushmeat ‘has been confirmed’, The China Daily reveals.
The effectiveness of Peta’s face masks?
Health authorities confirmed that face masks can be helpful in case you have symptoms, protecting others in case you are ill, as they capture droplets, one of the many transmission routes. Even if the sale of surgical masks is skyrocketing, experts say that the most effective mask seems to be the N95 respirator, because it filters out 95% of airborne particles and it has a tight fitting. Peta’s mask is made of cotton and, like surgery masks, is loose and has no air filter, so it does not prevent you from being infected.
Is this the right way to promote the vegan cause?
When activism deals with such delicate circumstances, it needs to be thought-out. It is true that animal exploitation and the outbreak of new viruses are connected and choosing the right channel to convey this message is crucial. Scientific information requires thoroughly written texts in which people can find explanations and arguments. Slogans enclosing scientific opinions may be misleading and labelled as biased, since people usually ignore the reasons supporting the statement. On top of this, the fact of selling a catchphrase on a product that is often bought for fear may put a non-profit organisation in a bad light, even if the latter has acted with the best intentions.