Caring For Others
Public Health and Pandemics
The World Health Organization estimates that 700,000 people are already dying each year because of antibiotic-resistant drugs, largely due to the overuse of these drugs in livestock to promote growth — a staggering number of men, women and children that would fill nearly 13 Yankee Stadiums each year.
Over 100 separate studies link animal antibiotic consumption with antibiotic resistance. In the U.S., we are farming superbugs in our farm animals. Not only could our system create new pandemics, but it could also reboot old ones by granting them immunity to conventional treatments.
“The pandemic didn’t happen to us; we brought it upon ourselves because we didn’t learn our lesson from bird flu, swine flu, mad cow, SARS and the many other infectious diseases that jumped to humans from the animals who we eat,” said Maureen Medina, an organizer with Slaughter Free NYC.
Here are some medical facts which might surprise you. If we didn't confine/kill/exploit animals, we would not have the following diseases in humans:
There's a reason why when the Europeans first came to N. America, they wiped out 95% of the native people with their infectious diseases, and not the other way around.
It was mostly the lethal gift of their livestock, which was then and still is now, very problematic.
Dr. Michael Gregor made a prophetic video in 2008 predicting the next great pandemic (which we are unfortunately experiencing now). Those who say we couldn't have predicted Covid19 weren't paying attention to the science. He literally predicted social distancing, long periods of isolation and shortages of toilet paper.
Those who describe the coronavirus as an enemy to be vanquished do not understand interconnectedness and the root causes of disease. To refuse to be willing to see humanity's role in creating pandemics is one way to ensure we will continue to experience them.
We know that pandemics will worsen in frequency and severity as long as we continue on our current course. This is why the executive order in America to reopen slaughterhouses was directly counter to what was in the best interest of public health and safety.
The world is spending a tremendous amount of time and money on secondary prevention such as treatments for Covid19 and vaccines, which both involve torturing and exploiting millions of animals.
We are spending almost no time on discussion or education around primary prevention of pandemics, which would involve encouraging people to move towards a plant-based diet, and changing our attitudes in general towards non-human animals.
If you want to take a step right now to help prevent the next pandemic, and to be on the right side of the mass extinction that's happening, you can keep animals off your plate.
We highly recommend that you watch Dr. Gregor's informative video here, or read his new book, How to Survive a Pandemic.
He explains in plain English how even the scourge of Lyme disease is a direct result of collective human behavior.
Mother Nature has sent us so many warnings, and we’ve put bandaids on all of them instead of taking the most obvious measure to prevent them, which is to switch to a plant-based diet.
Every time we buy animal products, we directly sponsor a system that will continue to produce pandemics, and will ultimately render ineffective our existing antibiotics. Coronavirus—which is, fittingly, an anagram for “carnivorous”—should remind us to consume foods more thoughtfully. Our food choices need not personally contribute to the risk of a public health crisis. Perhaps it’s time we take pandemics off our plates.
The story we tell about pandemics casts us as victims of nature. It’s the other way around. The real story of modern pandemics is not about how animals and their germs are invading our human realm but about how we’re invading theirs.
Human health is connected to the health of our animals — pets, livestock, wildlife — and our ecosystems and other societies. All these things are connected and we have to look at these broader drivers because that’s going to get to the root of the issue. Otherwise, we’re constantly just mopping up problems that are going to keep erupting again and again. pandemics, climate disasters, all of these are related to our huge footprint on the planet. We’ve been using up a lot of natural resources and now the bill is coming due. We’re going to lurch from disaster to disaster to disaster until we start to really change the fundamental relationship between us and nature.
According to the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics , Stopping Animal Abuse will Prevent Future Pandemics. A world in which cruelty to animals goes unchecked is bound to be a morally unsafe world for human beings. We have always known this in theory, but now it is increasingly confirmed by science. Too many people still think of sentient beings as just commodities or resources without any intrinsic value. But thinking this way is spiritually impoverished and leads to a morally regressive view of animals. Now is the optimum time for a fundamental rethink.
Our response to COVID-19 should mirror its seriousness. Treating the symptoms of this pandemic without simultaneously addressing its root causes is irresponsible. This crisis calls for ambitious new policies, including (but not limited to) a ban on live markets, a ban on factory farms, and for their to be more encouragement to move towards a plant-based diet.
Exploiting and killing animals is a messy business in every conceivable way.. As long as we insist on abusing and exploiting animals, we’ll keep cultivating stronger and deadlier pathogens. Meanwhile, no pandemic has ever stemmed from people eating broccoli or blueberries or seitan. Vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and nuts—the foods we’re better evolved to eat—don’t bleed and breathe diseases that threaten to infect our family and friends. If we want our loved ones to live, it’s time we eat like it.
The pattern is sobering: the human quest for meat functions as a key driver of the emergence of deadly infectious diseases that kill countless human and nonhuman animals. Those who consume animals not only harm those animals and endanger themselves, but they also threaten the well-being of other humans who currently or will later inhabit the planet…It is time for humans to remove their heads from the sand and recognize the risk to themselves that can arise from their maltreatment of other species.
Sentient Media - The Best Defense Against the Next Pandemic: Your Fork
More Pandemic Resources:
CNN.com Article - Bats are not to Blame for Coronavirus; Humans Are
The Culprit Is Us, Not Pangolins. We have met the enemy: It is us. Our behaviors — interactions with these animals and their environments — are responsible for the dangers that increasingly threaten not just animal species, but also perhaps our own. If we do nothing, outbreaks like Covid-19 will continue to occur, and likely accelerate in number. The first step as a civilization is to recognize that we have a problem. Changing our future will not be simple. Rather than blaming the animals or the 'other' country, it is time to heed the alarms that are getting louder for our health and that of the planet. We must be intentional about changing the path we are on
Don't Blame China. The Next Pandemic Could Come From Anywhere. While China is well known as the world’s top consumer of trafficked wildlife, less reported is the fact the U.S. is number two.
The Independent Article - We Should Start Thinking About The Next One: Coronavirus is just the first of many pandemics to come, environmentalists warn. “I’m absolutely sure that there are going to be more diseases like this in future if we continue with our practices of destroying the natural world," says marine ecologist Dr Enric Sala.
Commondreams.org - Food Safety Groups Warn of Looming Zoonotic Pandemic, Blast USDA’s New Slaughter Plant Regulation
FreeFromHarm article: Why are We Ignoring the Root Cause of Pandemics. It is time we start talking about the origin of this virus, not just the country it came from… and more importantly, do something about it.
New York Daily News Article - Let’s Socially Distance Ourselves from Animals. The WHO has been warning us for some time: We need to end factory farming or face a future where we are largely unable to overcome infections. Some first steps are simple. Stop using non-therapeutic antibiotics on factory farms. Don’t breed animals, like nearly all chickens we eat, that are in chronic pain and vulnerable to disease. Reduce the consumption of animal products and thus the number of farm animals (which, by the way, would have an enormous and positive impact on both animal welfare and the health of our environment, too). It’s time to rethink our treatment of the animals we share this planet with, for our own good.
The Guardian Article - 'Nature is Sending us a Message' says UN Environment Chief. The emergence and spread of Covid-19 was not only predictable, it was predicted [in the sense that] there would be another viral emergence from wildlife that would be a public health threat,” said Prof Andrew Cunningham, of the Zoological Society of London. “It’s almost always a human behaviour that causes it and there will be more in the future unless we change,” said Cunningham. We cannot go back to business as usual.
Center for Food Safety - New Swine Rules So Dangerous They Could Spur Another Zoonotic Pandemic
The Guardian Article - Human Impact on Wildlife to Blame for Spread of Viruses, Study Says.
National Institute of Health Article on Zoonotic Pandemic Threats (2014):
Time Article - Want to Stop the Next Pandemic? Start Protecting Wildlife Habitats
Citizentruth.org - Factory Farms Create the Perfect Condtions for Viral Infections like Covid-19. It’s not just live animal markets that put the world at risk by being breeding grounds for disease. Because Americans eat more meat per person than almost any other country, most
farms have shifted into large-scale animal factories. Each of these operations is packed with animals — sometimes hundreds of thousands — creating the perfect conditions for spreading disease. While governments and companies worldwide are canceling conferences and events in an attempt to stop the human-to-human transmission of COVID-19, we’re simultaneously cramming billions of animals together, effectively creating the same opportunity for disease transmission between these animals, which may then spread to humans.
Furthermore, in an attempt to keep animals alive in these filthy conditions until they reach “slaughter weight,” factory farms commonly give them antibiotics. Often these antibiotics are medically important for treating human diseases, and their overuse and misuse in animal
farming is contributing to the antibiotic resistance crisis. Leading health care organizations plead that without urgent action to reduce
antibiotic use in all settings — including in farm animals — we will be facing a time when these drugs no longer work for people or animals.
Forks Over Knives - Zoonotic Diseases, Superbugs, and Animal Agriculture. “We have absolutely contributed to the creation of these mutated viruses and bacteria that cause epidemics,” says Scott Stoll MD. “We put animals in very close quarters so that viruses and bacteria can spread more quickly and mutations can happen more rapidly. And then because we’ve also pushed these CAFOs [confined animal feed operations] and production facilities closer to wild animals, it’s easy for the preexisting mutations in wild species to move into the domesticated species."
South China Morning Post - Coronavirus: One Virus Caused Covid-19. Scientists Say More Are In Waiting.
Sierra Club - Blame it on the Farm, Too (How Intensive Agriculture Helps Viruses and Bacteria Leap From Other Species to Humans). The case for protecting and restoring the world’s wild landscapes is not just to mitigate climate change, or to respect the rights and land management expertise of Indigenous peoples—it’s also to prevent some epidemics before they even start.
LiveKindly Article - What the Health Director’s New Film Linking Covid-19 to Factory Farming. "Even if people don’t care about the individual animals suffering and dying at the hands of these industries, they should at least care about other humans and their own health,” says Keegan Kuhn, film director.
The Guardian Article - Is Factory Farming to Blame for Corona Virus
The Independent U.K.: From Coronavirus to Antibiotics - the way we use animals still risks spreading disease.
Dr. Aysha Akhtar, a neurologist and public health specialist at the US Food and Drug Administration, says the production of animals for food– as well as the global trade in wildlife – fuels the rise of new infectious diseases. As our demands for animals for food, skins and entertainment increases, so do our risks for diseases.
Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM) - Doctors Urge Surgeon General to Shut Down Live Animal Markets.
Live animal markets are a breeding ground for organisms that may not cause disease in animal hosts but can be deadly to humans. According to the CDC, “more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals, and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.” Outbreaks cause death and, in the case of covid-19, significant economic harm. To build immunity, the Physicians Committee recommends healthful, plant-based meals.
Slate.com Article - We Should Re-think Our Destructive Relationship with the Natural World, by Dr. Jane Goodall. "It is desperately important, in the window of time remaining, that we should all do our bit to heal the harm we have inflicted on the natural world—of which we are a part. Let us stop stealing the future from our children and from the other species with whom we share our home."
All-Creatures.org Article - Amid Covid-19 Outbreak, activists rally to close slaughterhouses in NYC.
Sentient Media Article - Coronavirus Should Make You Reconsider Eating Meat. Diseases do not recognize borders. Our response as a species must mirror that reality. Governments and individuals alike have a responsibility to take the actions within their control to prevent these catastrophes. Though China’s markets have come under global scrutiny, Americans’ demand for meat may be even riskier. The average American consumes almost twice as much meat as the average Chinese person. The sheer scale of American meat consumption significantly raises the odds of a pandemic.
Euronews - The Best Way to Prevent Future Pandemics like Coronavirus? Stop Eating Meat and Go Vegan. Our demand for meat means that huge numbers of animals, such as chickens and pigs are crammed together on crowded, faeces-ridden farms, transported in filthy lorries, and slaughtered on killing floors soaked with blood, urine, and other bodily fluids. Pathogens flourish in such conditions. Raising and killing animals for food threatens human health and causes tremendous animal suffering. If we want to save lives – human and animal – and prevent future pandemics, we also need to go vegan.
Sentient Media Article - To Reduce the Risk of Pandemics, We Must Ban Factory Farming Now. The risk of pandemics is amplified not only by confinement and slaughter of wild animals at live markets but also by confinement and slaughter of farmed animals in industrial agriculture settings. The 1918 H1N1 pandemic, one of the deadliest public health crises in modern history, and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, which infected as much as 20 percent of the global population, are believed to have both come from pigs.
Other examples of infectious diseases originating from farmed animals are readily available. The next pandemic could arrive at any time. H5N8, a virus with deadly potential, was discovered at a German poultry farm earlier this year. these crises are becoming more frequent and intense with time.
As we attempt to fight the spread of COVID-19, now is the time to think critically about how we want to continue to feed ourselves here in the U.S. and around the world. Clearly, this is a serious problem that seems to be of our own making. It’s a cruel irony that as we’re killing animals for food, it’s killing us, too.
The Guardian Article - Is our Destruction of Nature Responsible for Covid-19? A number of researchers today think that it is actually humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases such as Covid-19.
The Exam Room Podcast by The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: Where Pandemics Originate.
Dr. Klaper (Video) on the Covid-19 Pandemic - Advice to get through Challenging Times.
Live Kindly (Video) - This Doctor Has Been Warning About Pandemics for a Decade.
Check out our research page for more information and links to more studies.