The current coronavirus pandemic has been predicted for many years, with scientists stressing the link between human and animal health for decades. It is vital that the whole world acts now to phase out all uses of animals, especially animal agriculture. If we do nothing, the next pandemic may cross over to humans from farmed animals crowded together by the animal agriculture industry.
Most human infections originally came from an animal source. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 75 percent of new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals. Even diseases such as measles, smallpox and tuberculosis originated from the domestication of herd animals. Scientists have been able to determine this by genetic sequencing of the viruses. Even the common cold may have come from domesticated cattle. These diseases are known as zoonotic diseases, meaning they are transmitted from animals to people, in most cases through animal agriculture or hunting.
Climate change, deforestation, ocean dead zones, wildlife habitat loss, overuse of resources and now pandemics. Animal agriculture is responsible in part for all of these, so far we have resisted reducing our reliance on animal agriculture to help mitigate climate change. We have chosen to turn our heads at deforestation, ocean dead zones and habitat loss because we love the taste of steak and tuna. We squander so much land and water for needless animal production because we like cheese and ‘couldn't live without it’. Coronavirus is not the first virus to jump species to humans because of the exploitation of animals, but let's make it the last. Diseases originating from farming, hunting or eating animals have infected billions of people and killed many millions. In addition, the economic cost has been very high. In the last few decades, diseases from animals have cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Are we prepared to sacrifice our health and freedom for sausages?
“We need our world leaders to help farmers transition from animal based farming to diversify and start using their arable land for safer, more profitable and greener crops. The writing is on the wall for animal agriculture and the world needs to act as one in a sustainable manner. Data from the UN shows that we can increase our cropping and horticultural production and there would be more to feed the world,” said Claire Insley, media spokesperson for the Vegan World Alliance. “It has been shown that we can retrieve 75% of the land back from animal agriculture and in the light of this virus, we need to make this transition fast.”
With over 865 million people starving in the world, there would be enough to feed them all by adopting vegan methods of food production. What is lacking is the political will to do so. Meat and dairy use most (83%) of the world’s farmland. They also produce 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. Even though they drain much of the world’s resources, meat and dairy products make up just 18% of the world population’s calories and 37% of protein. The economics show that plant-based foods are cheaper to produce and some economists are suggesting that animal agriculture will be over by 2030. Why not act now?
It has been calculated that if everyone ate a plant-based diet, the savings in health costs worldwide could be up to $31 trillion! There would be more people in better health and more able to be productive for longer. We have to act quickly to prevent another pandemic, to prevent climate catastrophe and to live sustainably on our one planet. The cost of not doing so is total biosphere collapse, where everyone loses and the plants win anyway.