A group of female leaders, most of whom are women of color, have penned an open letter to the incoming U.S. administration detailing a three-pronged strategy to address the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the "shadow pandemics" of food insecurity, chronic illness, racial and gender-based structural inequality and climate change.
The letter—addressed to President-Elect Joe Biden, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, members of the Presidential Transition Team, special Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry and members of the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Advisory Committee—calls for the U.S. leadership to:
- Deindustrialize animal production and consumption, including phasing out factory farms, banning fur farms and the closure of live animal markets.
- Employ safe, fast, effective vaccine research methods based on human biology instead of animal testing.
- Issue urgent Pandemic Nutrition Guidance with a whole-food plant-based approach.
The JIVINITI Women's Coalition—comprising evidence-based nutrition, medical science, advocacy, social justice, leadership, food insecurity and anti-hunger organizations—has also created a petition calling for Harris to take Million Dollar Vegan's 31-Day Vegan Challenge.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the whole world to pause. Now is the time to reset our food system and issue national nutrition guidance that can help prevent up to 80% of chronic conditions and save over $250 billion annually in healthcare costs," says Nivi Jaswal, president of Boston-based research nonprofit The Virsa Foundation which is leading the JIVNITI Women's Coalition.
A transition away from animal agriculture to a plant-based economy also offers the opportunity to address what some economists are calling the 'pink recession', in which women, and particularly women of color, are impacted most by the COVID-19 pandemic, the coalition notes.
A United Nations report found that unemployment during the pandemic has fallen disproportionately on Latinx women, with many losing their work in the service industry.
Since March 2020, 57% Latinx women and 53% Black women say they've lost income, while more than 1 in 6 Black and Latinx women reported not having enough food in the past week, according to the National Women's Law Center in Washington D.C.
"These are shocking statistics that require smart, progressive solutions," says Jaswal. "Kamala Harris is a role model for millions of people, especially women and women of color, and by taking a position on healthy, whole-food plant-based eating, she can help drive a fundamental transformation in the way America produces, processes and eats food."
Source: The JIVINITI Women's Coalition