Is Veganism the Key to Survive Future Pandemics?
In the midst of a global pandemic, a lot of questions arise in one’s mind. It is times such as these which make it important for one to understand the role of various stakeholders to prevent such outbreaks from taking root in the future.
If we are to believe the scientists and epidemiologists this pandemic is not the first one, and most definitely won’t be the last one. With the current Viral outbreak originating from an animal food source, it is only required of us to adapt to better dietary practices.
While as the human race, we change and adapt to sustain ourselves, there is a larger theme that comes out of this pandemic. And we believe it is incumbent on us to look for the answers to such occurrences.
In this blog we’ll throw light on the history of Corona Virus and the role of influential institutions on our dietary choices, we’ll also understand whether Veganism will be the answer to such problems in the future.
What is this Corona Crisis?
Let’s take a look at the history of the deadly Corona Virus: (Dr. Greger, NutrtionFacts.Org)
Seventeen years ago in 2003 the first deadly Corona Virus spread appeared in the form of SARS, killing 1 in 10 people it infected.
In 2012 another deadly form of this virus appeared in the form of MERS, killing 1 in 3 people it infected. And in 2020, no surprises, we have the third deadly spread in the form of COVID-19, the mortality rate is yet to be deduced, but there is no question that lives have been put to a standstill.
Research shows that possibly all human viral infections are zoonotic (spreading from animals to humans) in nature, one might question here that if we have domesticated animals since over 6000 years, why this delay in deadly disease spread?
The answer, if we accept our mistakes, is simple, Intensive Farming methods. As more and more animals are crammed into smaller spaces to save costs and meet the demand and supply chain, animals are being imprisoned and modified into commoditised body parts without so much as half an inch of extra space to move.
With every single animal breeding operation practically being a wet market, it is then no surprise that this will not be the last of pandemics for us to face. Unless, we want it to be the last one.
Is it Time for a Shift from the Meat Business?
Since implementation of the lockdown in March in India, some of the first businesses to be shut were the meat markets.
This has definitely had a negative impact on their growth, with the ICRA indicating that the Indian poultry industry is set to have estimated losses of 4-5% growth in the financial year 2020-21 (The Economic Times April 24, 2020). All over the world too, wet markets are either being banned or heavily scrutinised to prevent further spread of the CoronaVirus.
Heard of any virus outbreaks originating from vegetable or fruit sources? Neither have we! It then becomes imperative for us to stop and think about our next big health concern- Food, and how businesses take responsibility to drive this important force in the right direction.
Veganism- A Saviour?
Veganism in India is slowly picking pace with big cities such as Mumbai, Bangaluru, Delhi and Pune taking the lead in adopting this lifestyle. What was once a classic joke about the vegan diet, “Vegans only eat grass” is being silenced by some serious gastronomic business.
From Vegan Cheese burgers and pizzas to mock meats and desserts, the food business is being forced to add vegan options to their menus to not miss out on this increasing customer base.
Case in point: KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Domino’s all these well established meat heavy businesses have added vegan options to their menus in the USA and are now introducing these worldwide.
Sadly, there is an influential section of multinational food-chain companies, meat industries and our own governments supporting the very diets that have been slowly making us sick. The urban food scenario is full of high protein and sodium, empty calorie foods, this is the reason why COVID-19 deaths have been linked to comorbidity (Guan WJ, Liang WH, Zhao Y, et al, 2020)- we are already sick! And instead of pulling back from the cliff, we seem to be happily jumping over it!
Even though the vegan diet and lifestyle is centred around justice for animals- making it uninteresting for many- it undoubtedly has huge positive side effects as health and environmental benefits for all.
Eating a plant based diet is increasingly being proven to reduce the risk of disease and improving immunity through clinical research, which is such a simple, basic and accessible solution for everyone to adopt. This shift should not be solely based on an increased availability of diverse palate options, but for its benefits for our health and survival.
Will Veganism save us from future pandemics? We definitely believe so! No intensive farming of animals means- no wet market conditions, means- minimal chances of spread of zoonotic diseases.
Our food can save us, not only from modern lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease to name a few, but also from such potent devastating pandemics. It is up to us, to encourage our governments and corporates to ride this change.
It seems apt to quote Hippocrates here, who has famously said, “Let food be thy medicine; and medicine be thy food”.
To anyone who still remains unconvinced, we’re here to help you make the shift, if you’re willing to try it out!
The Economic Times (accessed 21st June, 2020). “Covid-19 lockdown has severely hit the poultry industry with Q4 being the worst quarter: ICRA”. 24th April, 2020
“Where Do Deadly Coronaviruses Like MERS CoV Come From?”. NutritionFacts.Org, Dr. Michael Greger (Accessed 21st June, 2020)
Guan WJ, Liang WH, Zhao Y, et al. Comorbidity and its impact on 1590 patients with COVID-19 in China: a nationwide analysis. Eur Respir J. 2020;55(5):2000547. Published 2020 May 14. doi:10.1183/13993003.00547-2020