Fifty million Chinese locked down! Fifteen countries affected! Three confirmed cases in the U.S.! These dramatic headlines announce one more pandemic caused by our abuse of animals.
Indeed, 61 percent 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.
More Backyard Talk
I’m so glad this important debate is getting the coverage it deserves (“Our Own Backyard,” Letters, Jan. 15). Thank you Kay Wood for your insightful commentary. I, for one, think it’s high time that we value native species such as these enough to allow them the right to live natural lives, above the economic concerns of the cattle and dairy industries, whose practices contribute to the destruction of natural parklands. I would hope that local politicians would be moving more in the direction of supporting the natural ecology of places like Point Reyes.