Over the past century, a host of infectious diseases have spread rapidly after jumping from animals to humans.
- In 1918, a flu pandemic infected half a billion people and killed 50-100 million people worldwide. It originated in birds.1
- In 2003, the SARS virus – thought to have originated from a live animal market2 – spread to over 8,000 people worldwide and cost the global economy an estimated $40 billion.3
- In 2009, the H1N1 “swine flu” – believed to have originated in pigs – infected around 60.8 million people.4
- MERS, another deadly coronavirus, emerged straight out of an industrializing camel sector in the Middle East.5
- And in 2013, the H7N9 “bird flu” emerged from poultry, sickening more than 1,500 people and killing roughly 40 percent of them.6
Now, in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the world is facing its most serious public health crisis in generations.
Our long history of exploiting animals for their meat, milk, eggs and skins means there is also a long history of serious illness and widespread deaths in people: Tuberculosis is thought to have been acquired from the domestication of goats; measles from cows;7 whooping cough from domesticated pigs; typhoid from domesticating chickens; leprosy from water buffalo; and the cold virus from cows or horses.8
Most of the meat, dairy and eggs we consume today come from factory farms, which are hotspots for emerging flu pandemics. In order for animals to have a chance at surviving amidst the filth and squalor, they are administered a potent cocktail of drugs, which include antibiotics. This overuse is also deadly: Diseases become resistant to the drugs, superbugs emerge, and we are left with nothing that can fight them.
This is far too big a price to pay.
Preventing another pandemic may come down to what we value most: the safety of our families OR the taste of animal flesh. Join us and #TakePandemicsOffTheMenu by eliminating animals from your diet: try vegan today.
3 Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Microbial Threats; Knobler S, Mahmoud A, Lemon S, et al., editors. Learning from SARS: Preparing for the Next Disease Outbreak: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2004. THE IMPACT OF THE SARS EPIDEMIC.
8 Michael Greger MD, Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, Lantern Books,US; 1 edition (6 Dec. 2006)