A plant-based diet can prevent the next pandemic!
A PLANT BASED DIET CAN PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC
The world as we know has come to a standstill due to a virus that has been transmitted to humans through an animal. Its global impact is daunting. A tragic death toll and the fall of the global economy; we are faced with an immediate and large-scale shutdown of public life and services. Infections can be transmitted from animals to humans, which is the case for the Novel Coronavirus that’s put the world in an economic crisis. No one anticipated that the interaction between a human and an infected animal could result in the emergence of a novel zoonotic disease which could quickly turn into a pandemic, resulting in a global lockdown. This makes animal consumption risky. It’s not alien for viruses and other pathogens to be transmitted from animals to humans. Most of the infectious diseases that have emerged in the last decades were transmitted to humans via animals. Swine flu, which originated in pigs (the most well-known subtype H1N1 causing the Spanish flu of 1918 and also the swine flu epidemic in 2009), bird flu, and now coronavirus are a few examples of zoonotic diseases. The rise in the number of people looking for an alternate source of food has drastically increased. This is where a vegan diet is most suitable; it’s sustainable and healthy!
Animal meat and seafood have been part of the human diet for a long time. These continue to be part of the menu on the dining table at home, fine dining restaurants, food courts, and many other diners. Mankind has not only savoured different varieties of meat but has valued it as a rich and and important source of protein supplement given that grain, pulses and vegetables are not sufficient to provide for human protein needs. This trend has led to immense growth in the agriculture and poultry sector.
Fun fact: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, nearly half of the global agricultural production is consumed by livestock and just 37% is for humans. It takes about 7 kilograms of grain in dry weight to produce 1 kilogram of live weight for bovine; around 4 kilograms for 1 kilogram of live weight for pigs, and for poultry it is just over 2 kilograms, and one pound of eggs requires 477 gallons of water. 8 eggs = 1,805 litres of water. This causes grave ecological imbalance.
Moreover, storing, slaughtering, and processing many different species in extremely confined spaces provides a perfect breeding ground for zoonotic diseases.
‘Chickens, cows, pigs, and others are crammed together in small cages or faeces-ridden sheds, transported in filthy trucks, and slaughtered on killing floors soaked with blood, urine, and other bodily fluids. Many animals are sold for fresh meat at live–animal markets in India, China, and other countries around the world. Pathogens flourish in such conditions, making crowded farms and live–animal markets breeding grounds for new strains of dangerous bacteria and viruses. Scientists overwhelmingly believe that the viruses that cause COVID-19 and SARS were transmitted to humans through China‘s live–animal markets, while swine flu and bird flu regularly plague factory farms.’ – PETA
Animals in factory farms are routinely pumped with vast amounts of antibiotics in order to keep them alive in filthy, disease-ridden conditions that would otherwise kill them. Plugged with growth hormones and steroids for their ‘optimum growth’. Because of this rampant use of antibiotics, certain bacteria have become resistant to even the most powerful ones, contributing to the emergence of “superbugs” – new, aggressive pathogens which are resistant to antibiotics. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that antibiotic resistance is “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems,” and other experts predict that at our current rate, more people will die of diseases caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria than of cancer by 2050. This is a problem we cannot afford to ignore!
The slaughterhouse is torment for the animals and the employees too. There have been several reports of injuries, discrimination and harsh conditions that the employees face on a daily basis. This brutal system also treats slaughterhouse workers more as objects to be discarded than as human beings. For instance, several meat processing plants nationwide have shut down, as their unsafe working conditions and failure to implement CDC-recommended safety protocols have likely caused hundreds of employees to contract the coronavirus. As of April 23rd, according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, over 3,000 positive cases tied to meatpacking plants have been reported, with at least 17 worker deaths.
If history’s any witness, we’ve always eaten animal products. But that does not mean we have to continue endlessly! The vegan movement started in the 1940s, and since, countless children have been raised vegan and grown into healthy adults. A plant-based diet can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, greatly reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, and provide more antioxidants, fibre, and vitamin C—all improvements over the standard American diet. All plant foods contain all the essential amino acids—the building blocks of protein. To meet protein requirements and to feel satisfied, it’s important to make sure you’re eating some high-protein plant foods each day. The easiest choices are vegan meats, which are packed with protein. Legumes—peanuts, beans, lentils, and peas—and foods made from them are also high in protein.
By eating vegan—not consuming meat, dairy, and eggs—you can oppose speciesism and the rights violations of animal agriculture. While it can sound intimidating at first, if you experiment with the multitude of satisfying, high-protein vegan foods and ease into it at your own pace, it will soon be second nature.