An animal rights activist wearing a gas mask and a Santa Claus suit urged people in Hong Kong on Thursday to stop eating chicken and accused the poultry industry of spreading bird flu. The Santa protester, who held a sign saying "Merry Chickmas Stop Bird Flu Go Vegetarian," was part of a small demonstration by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
"Avian flu comes from farming animals for food," said Andrew Butler campaign coordinator for PETA. "As long as people continue to consume animal products, we're all going to be at risk of global pandemics like this." A PETA statement said diseases spread easily in large chicken farms because the birds are cooped up in their own waste.
"Why on Earth would you want to eat something that's so hazardous and that dangerous," Butler said. The World Health Organization has said poultry is safe to eat as long as it's thoroughly cooked. Hong Kong's Health Department said it's not urging people to become vegetarian. "We stress that people should maintain a balanced diet and adequate exercise," department spokeswoman Eva Wong said, reports the AP. I.L.