To the editor:
Fifty million Chinese locked down! Fifteen countries affected! Five confirmed cases in the U.S.! These dramatic headlines announce one more pandemic caused by our abuse of animals.
Indeed, 61% of the 1,415 pathogens known to infect humans originate with animals. These so-called zoonetic diseases, claiming millions of human lives, include Asian flu, Hong Kong flu, West Nile flu, bird flu, swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola, HIV, SARS, and yellow fever. The pandemic “Spanish” flu of 1918 may have killed as many as 50 million people worldwide.
Western factory farms and Asian street markets are virtual breeding grounds for infectious diseases. Sick, crowded, highly stressed animals in close contact with raw flesh, feces, and urine provide ideal incubation media for viruses. As these microbes reach humans, they mutate to defeat the new host’s immune system, then propagate on contact.
Each of us can help end these deadly pandemics by replacing animal products in our diet with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. These foods don’t carry flu viruses, or government warning labels, are touted by every major health advocacy organization, and were the recommended fare in the Garden of Eden. The internet offers ample recipes and transition hints.