Pandemics are the shocking but inevitable consequence of the poor hygiene, cross-contamination, and low animal welfare inherent in the systems that exploit animals for food. Viruses emerge in live animal markets and in the filth and squalor of factory farms, and they continue to spread from animals to people all around the world.
In the last hundred years, infectious disease pandemics have spread across the world, killing up to 100 million people, with three-quarters of emerging infectious diseases resulting from our exploitation of animals for their meat, milk, eggs, and skins.
Instead of recognizing the deadly nature of the food system we have created and learning from the many past pandemics, we doubled down. We bred, farmed, captured, and slaughtered on an unimaginable scale, and now, all across the world, billions of animals are crammed inside filthy factory farm sheds. Sick and weak, they live in squalid conditions that are the perfect breeding grounds for disease.
Virologists widely predict that another pandemic will emanate from the world’s chicken or pig farms, with bird and porcine flu viruses already circulating and mutating.
3-in-4 EMERGING INFECTIOUS diseases come from animals
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
WE MAKE IT TOO EASY FOR VIRUSES
As if we didn’t already make things easy for viruses by providing them with perfect farm-based Petri dishes, we give them a second shot at transmitting to people when we cut down the world’s natural spaces to grow feed for factory-farmed animals. We do this because animal agriculture needs so much more land than plant-based agriculture, and it is taken from nature.
Animal agriculture is the world’s leading driver of deforestation and habitat loss. In Latin America alone, it is responsible for destroying 2.71 million hectares of tropical forest each year. When we cut down forests, we destroy the habitats of wild animals, cutting loose the deadly pathogens they incubate, and allowing them to come into contact with people.
PREVENTION AND CURE
Not only can adopting a plant-based diet help to prevent future pandemics, but eating this way also appears to help us as individuals if we get sick as a result of one. Studies suggest that those who eat a plant-based diet suffer less severe symptoms of Covid-19 than those who do not.