So how could I possibly miss the chance of blogging about the Coronavirus? Something I know nothing about, but that’s never stopped me before 😉
The whole of Spain (where I am) is in lockdown to avoid spreading the virus and as a consequence our lives have changed dramatically in the last week or so.
There are negatives…
I have family and friends that have lost jobs or businesses. We are hearing of people getting sick around us which is unnerving and some people are dealing with their anxiety better than others.
And there are positives…
To avoid large groups of people the Grand National was cancelled, bullfights were cancelled and so many more events that promoted cruelty to animals were cancelled. I’m very grateful for some very unique consequences of COVID-19.
Now for the vegan part…
Let me be clear, the intense animal farming industry is the main reason for the zoonotic viruses that plague our planet and kill thousands upon thousands of humans. High populations of animals in stressful conditions, with unnatural diets and unhygienic conditions create the perfect breeding ground for a virus to be transmitted from animal to human. If you eat animal products then you are enabling this process to happen again and again.
Let’s be more specific.
First off, we don’t honestly know where COVID-19 originated from, but we do believe it came from an animal (possibly bats). Now if we discount all the conspiracy theorists claiming it’s from a laboratory (and I normally love a good conspiracy theory) then we are led to believe that a bat (probably) passed it to a farmed animal and then the first animal to human transmission happened at a wet market in Wuhan, China.
At the time that I am writing this article there are 335,926 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 14,638 deaths worldwide. I am fortunate to have never had to experience anything like this before but pandemics will probably happen several times within my lifetime because we farm animals.
COVID-19 may not have happened had we not farmed animals.
SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)
In 2002, there was an outbreak of SARS in Southern China. Over 8000 cases were reported with just under 800 people dying as a result of the disease. Xu et. al (2004) found that there was a strong relationship between the people that were initially diagnosed and how close they lived to a local wet market (which sold animals for food).
When looking into the origin of SARS, Bell et. al (2004) states that “A major lesson from SARS is that the underlying roots of newly emergent zoonotic diseases may lie in the parallel biodiversity crisis of massive species loss as a result of overexploitation of wild animal populations and the destruction of their natural habitats by increasing human populations.”
That’s pretty clear, right? We should stop destroying the planet.
To get back to farming, a good example would be Tu et al. (2004). They found high levels of SARS Coronavirus in a civet farm in China and that the virus originated from the trading of animals.
SARS may not have happened had we not farmed animals.
Avian Influenza a.k.a Bird Flu
Bird Flu is a variety of flu that is adapted to birds. In 1997 the first human adapted strain of the virus was discovered in Hong Kong. In this first instance 18 people were reported to be infected and 6 people died.
Outbreaks of Bird Flu are becoming increasingly frequent in poultry farms and in a summary of Avian Influenza, Lazzari and Stöhr stated that “Outbreaks of avian influenza are increasingly frequent, probably as a result of intensive agricultural practices”.
Laver and Garman (2001), when talking about Bird Flu, also predicted that “A worldwide epidemic (pandemic) of type A influenza could occur at any time… Millions of people will become ill and die“.
Are you guys seeing the connection?
Avian Influenza may not have happened had we not farmed animals.
Swine Influenza is common amongst pigs in farms and there have been instances of transmission to humans. In 2009 there was a Swine Influenza pandemic where up to 575,000 people died. Since this outbreak there have been at least seven outbreaks around the world resulting in the deaths of thousands of people.
In an interview on Swine Influenza, Ruben Donis, the chief of the molecular virology and vaccines branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at that time, suggested that the virus may have originated in a pig that travelled to Asia from the US as part of the pig farming industry.
Swine Influenza may not have happened had we not farmed animals.
MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)
MERS virus is another respiratory disease that has been transmitted from animals to humans. Over 2000 cases have been reported and over 700 of those cases have died.
Mohd et. al (2016) states that the virus originated from bats but somehow was transmitted to camels and was probably transferred to humans at a camel farm.
They’re even farming camels.
MERS may not have happened had we not farmed animals.
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) a.k.a Mad Cow Disease
Get ready for this one.
Mad Cow Disease was a big deal when I was growing up. In 1992 the disease reached its peak with over 100,000 cases. It is believed that humans eating contaminated meat could contract Variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, a brain disease which would dramatically lower your life expectancy.
There are several hypotheses of how Mad Cow Disease came into existence. One example is given in Narang (1996) which states that the disease may have come into existence because farmers were feeding cattle with recycled (and possibly contaminated) cattle meat and bones.
In addition to the above being disgusting, cows are herbivores and this would be an unnatural diet for them.
But here comes the one that hit me sideways…
Colchester & Colchester (2005) believe that there is not enough evidence for the claims above (that cattle were given recycled meat) and instead there is far more evidence for the claim that Mad Cow Disease came from feeding human remains to cattle.
If this doesn’t shock you then you’re a rock, void of all emotion.
No offence to rocks.
Added extra for you guys, the human remains were from India.
Watch out Wonderful Husband.
But let’s not get sidetracked by the idea that farmers were feeding HUMAN REMAINS to farm animals…
BSE may not have happened had we not farmed animals.
Times are scary now, but with the intensive farming of animals that is a consequence of eating animal products, pandemics will only get more frequent. Our lives will get worse if we carry on funding an industry that is killing animals, killing humans and destroying the planet.
This is a problem for the world to fix. You’re part of the world, so start fixing it by going vegan 💚