CAUSE FOR CONCERN
2020's COVID-19: a "dress rehearsal" for even more devastating future pandemics. This is a call to change our food system before it is too late.
HUMANS AND ANIMALS-- TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
A zoonosis, such as COVID-19, is an infectious disease that originates in animals and spreads to humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic in nature. SARS, Mad Cow Disease, Avian/Bird Flu, Swine Flu, HIV, MERS, Smallpox, Measles, and Ebola are examples.
Zoonotic diseases like coronavirus infect 2.5 billion people every year. Although they originated in wild animals, many of the worst zoonotic outbreaks have infected humans through our interactions with domestic animal intermediaries, such as pigs, ducks, and chickens. Pathogenic microbes do not distinguish between wild and domesticated animals...nor even humans. These pathogens jump the species barrier without discrimination.
WHAT WE PUT ON OUR PLATE LEAVES US VULNERABLE
Animal agriculture provides an ideal breeding ground for zoonotic diseases to flourish, mutate, and, as we've seen with COVID-19, infect a human host. Across the globe, we raise over 70 billion animals in factory farms for food. These animals live in filthy and cramped conditions, their immune systems stressed and vulnerable, making these facilities hotspots for illness. But all farms, whether small and family-run or large industrial operations, keep animals in confined spaces where diseases can spread easily, creating a threat of infections spreading to humans.
As an example, the Spanish Flu (H1N1 influenza A virus) pandemic originated on a farm in the USA and infected 500 million people across the planet, about one-third of the world's population at the time, with death toll estimates ranging from 17 million to 100 million. COVID-19, or SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, is believed to have spread from a wet market in China. Such markets exist in many countries around the world, including Canada and the US, with over 80 in New York City alone, as of 2020.
Every time we buy animal products, we directly support a system that will continue to produce pandemics, and will ultimately render ineffective our existing antibiotics.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER...
Social distancing, hand-washing, masks, and vaccine development, while necessary to mitigate the effects of the current pandemic, do not prevent future, possibly worse, pandemics. They are "band-aid" measures that fail to address the root cause of zoonotic diseases infecting humans. The solution: Stop the raising of animals for food; protect natural ecosystems from human intrusion, development, and deforestation; and transition to a safe, secure, sustainable plant-based food system.
Our food choices need not personally contribute to the risk of a public health crisis. Let's take pandemics off our plates and make plant-based eating "the new normal".