Desmond Bellamy, PETA Australia
As COVID-19 restrictions start to ease, part of our ‘new normal’ involves admitting that human exploitation of animals caused the novel coronavirus pandemic. Global outbreaks of swine flu and bird flu and, more recently, the emergence of new zoonotic coronaviruses – including those that cause SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 – are hard lessons. However, we must acknowledge that even worse outbreaks could happen if we don’t learn from our mistakes.
Human demand for animal flesh means that animals on factory farms are routinely dosed with vast quantities of antibiotics in order to keep them alive in filthy, output-obsessed, intensive systems that would otherwise kill them. Because of this rampant use of antibiotics, certain bacteria have become resistant to even the most powerful ones, contributing to the emergence of ‘superbugs’ – new, aggressive pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics.
The director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that without effective antibiotics, even simple surgery and once-minor infections could be fatal. Other experts predict that by 2050, more people will die of diseases caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria than of cancer – the current trajectory is 10 million deaths per year if no action is taken.
We all need to follow health guidelines, but to save even more lives – human and other animal – and prevent future pandemics, we must also go vegan.