During this pandemic, people are feeling powerless to help. We are told of huge strains that have impacted our NHS, community wellbeing is suffering, local businesses are falling, and it seems like there is very little that we as individuals can do to diminish these issues. You may rise up and fight back by clapping on Thursdays, listening to friends who have lost loved ones, or, like me, distracting yourself by writing for student newspapers. But what if there was something you could do to not only abate this pandemic, but to prevent future pandemics from starting in the first place?
Now you may be thinking, ‘What a load of rubbish! If there were a way to prevent pandemics, then how did this one manage to happen?’ For those that are, I share your sentiment and tell you that I also have no idea how we allowed it to happen. Complacency is precisely the problem. Thinking that any prevention strategy does not require active participation is what enables it to happen. So to determine what can be done, look no further than the causes. What do Sars-Covid-2, swine flu, avian flu, mad cow disease, Ebola and Covid-19 all have in common? They all originated and are spread in the same way: through the consumption of animal products and encroachment into animal habitats.
Valentina Rizza, a disease expert at the European Food Safety Authority, said: “The majority of emerging new infections in humans in the last ten years really come from animals or food of animal origin.” Eating animals is coming back to bite us. To avoid future pandemics, we all must adopt a vegan lifestyle.
By now, you have probably heard the arguments that appeal to animal wellbeing. Maybe it’s time to listen to those that appeal to human wellbeing. The UN has said that the two biggest threats to humanity are pandemics and climate change, and it just so happens that the effects of both can be drastically reduced by becoming vegan. The coronavirus death toll is massive, but how many more lives will be lost and dramatically changed due to climate change?
The reality is, this pandemic was not inevitable and could have been avoided. But hindsight is pointless unless we use it to change the present. With so many food alternatives and information out there to lead a balanced vegan diet, it is easier now than ever. I challenge you to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle for one week, just as a personal test, to see what an infinitesimal inconvenience it is to your life in comparison to the damage this pandemic has caused. For change to occur the effort must be collective. Even if you slip up, it is still abundantly more effective than ignoring the solution. The majority doing their best is always better than a few doing it flawlessly.