Lessons From the COVID-19 Outbreak
To say that COVID-19 has shaken all of us to the core would be an understatement. We’re experiencing one of the biggest outbreaks of disease in modern history and doing our best to keep our loved ones and ourselves safe.
But this pandemic is just a sign of things to come unless humans change their behaviour.
Humans have mistreated our planet and the animals we share it with for far too long. And the consequences of these actions are more apparent than ever. Experts say that the outbreak originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China, where humans have direct contact with live animals and dead animal flesh.
The exploitation and slaughter of other living, feeling beings has led hundreds of thousands of us to be infected with a potentially fatal disease – and it’s not the first time.
According to Public Health England, “Many (60 to 80% [of]) emerging infections are derived from an animal source.” Filthy factory farms, abattoirs, and meat markets threaten the health of every human being on the planet by providing a breeding ground for deadly pathogens like the ones behind COVID-19, SARS, bird flu, and more.
The way other animals are exploited and killed has always had devastating repercussions for them and for us – now, people’s eyes are being pried open to this reality. Humans can no longer subject other animals to the violence that has been normalised and expect life to carry on as before.
In our industrialised world, it can be easy to forget that we’re intrinsically linked to nature – that we, like pigs, cows, sheep, and chickens, are animals. That all of us feel sorrow, suffering, fear, and happiness in the same way – and that we all have the same desire to live free and be with our family and friends. As we reconnect to what matters most – our health and our loved ones – we must take this time to ensure we’re playing our part in creating a better world, because the one we have is dangerous for every living being, putting us and everyone we care about at risk.
End Animal Suffering
Other animals suffer horrendously at human hands. They’re mutilated in laboratories. They’re exploited and killed for their flesh, milk, and eggs. Their skin is torn off for our clothes. And they’re imprisoned and their spirits are broken for our entertainment.
Did you know that entire wolf packs reportedly howl mournfully and show signs of depression following the loss of a pack member, that turkeys at sanctuaries single out their favourite visitors and will run to greet them upon their arrival, and that pigs enjoy listening to music, playing with footballs, receiving massages, and even playing video games?
Because all food, clothing, other products, and forms of entertainment for which animals are exploited are linked to suffering, choosing to avoid them altogether is the most powerful way we can exercise compassion and avoid being complicit in cruelty to animals – and reduce the risk that new animal-borne diseases sweep the globe in the future.
Protect Our Living Planet
Animal agriculture isn’t just responsible for cruelty and deadly illnesses – it also produces a greater proportion of global greenhouse-gas emissions (14% to 18%) than all transportation (which accounts for 13.5%, including air travel) according to the Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock report by the United Nations (UN).
Another UN report – Livestock’s Long Shadow – states that raising animals for food is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”.
The situation is so dire that the UN is calling for urgent and unprecedented changes now, including a global shift to a vegan diet, to limit the catastrophic damage caused by climate change.
We use the exact titles of the reports here for reference, although of course, “livestock” is a speciesist term that should never be used to describe animals, who have personalities and feelings.
Look After Your Health
For years, scientists have warned that filthy farms crammed full of sick animals are breeding grounds for new, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”. Some studies claim that by 2050, more people will be dying of such diseases than of cancer.
The UN found that the majority of new human diseases originated in animals and that many of those were directly linked to animals used for food.
In addition to carrying a high risk of contamination from pathogens – including E coli, campylobacter, and salmonella – meat contains no fibre and is packed with artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. The World Health Organization states that consuming processed meat causes cancer.
Each person who goes vegan reduces their own risk of suffering from heart disease, obesity, cancer, strokes, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and numerous other health concerns – and spares nearly 200 animals every year daily misery and a terrifying death.
Change Is Needed
There’s no way back at this point, but there is a way for us to prevent outbreaks like this from happening again. Human mistreatment of animals and the planet is harming not only them but also us, and now is the time for each and every person to take personal responsibility for their part.
The link between outbreaks of diseases like COVID-19 and meat-eating is undeniable – and the solution is clear: to prevent future pandemics, humans must stop abusing animals and go vegan.