Toward a new humanity: Animal cruelty in China in light of COVID-19

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This essay considers the way that human dietary choices have imposed and sustained centuries of tyranny over all species in the world and, in the process, alienated homo sapiens from its humanity and species at large from the right not to be instrumentalized. Looking at a set of quintessentially, though not exclusively, Chinese ways of living—historical and cultural, ancient, and contemporary—that have founded and sustained the Chinese meat provisioning system, I explore the following issues. First, I will discuss the historical, cultural, and contemporary relations of Chinese eating practices to global infectious disease emergencies. Specifically, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the third reported case of viral interspecies transmission in less than 20 years, calls for a critical review not only of Chinese live-animal markets but also of the defensive nationalist cultural discourses around them. Second, the evolution of certain Chinese practices and concepts of the human that are incorporated into corporeal politics trivialize, neutralize, and moralize the way humans slaughter their fellow animals. Finally, COVID-19 opens the possibility that Chinese culinary practices and culture might one day adapt to and advocate veganism on moral grounds, that is, for ethical reasons rather than health, or novelty, or variety. Our coronaviruses and our fellow animals are everywhere intertwined. By the time we do away with COVID-19, one hopes that we will also be a step closer to doing away with violence and cruelty against our fellow animals—the myriad life forms that are our animality and humanity in the first place.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Vegan Studies
EditorsLaura Wright
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000364583, 9781003020875
ISBN (Print)9780367897468
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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