Antibiotic resistance could wipe out humans before climate change, but veganism can prevent both | Totally Vegan Buzz

Antibiotic resistance could wipe out humans before climate change, but veganism can prevent both

Antibiotic resistance could wipe out humans before climate change, but veganism can prevent both
Image: @freestocks/ Unsplash

England’s chief medical officer has warned that antibiotic resistance has the potential to wipe out humans ‘before climate change does’, but veganism can go a long way towards preventing two of the biggest threats to humanity. 

Professor Dame Sally Davies has warned that resistance built up by bacteria due to overuse of antibiotics could kill 10 million people per year soon.

The overuse of antibiotics in any form leads bugs to no longer respond to drugs created to kill them, which limits the ways humans can cure infections. 

As bugs build up a resistance to antibiotics, we could come to the point where a small cut or minor infection could be fatal. 

Dame Sally told Sky News: “We humans are doing it to ourselves, but it could kill us before climate change does.

“It is a very important area and we are under-investing in sorting it out.

“Antibiotics underpin modern medicine – you can’t have gut surgery, replacement hips, all sorts of surgery without risking infection.

“At least 10 million could die every year if we don’t get on top of this.”


Antibiotics are misused to treat humans, but the amounts used in rearing livestock in the meat and dairy industry far outstrips antibiotics used to treat humans. 

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, more than 20 million pounds of medically important antibiotic drugs were sold in food producing farm animals in 2014.

That’s the equivalent to 80 percent of all antibiotics sold, in an industry where animals are treated with antibiotics every single day to increase profits.

Dame Sally said the UK ‘should not be importing beef or other animals where antibiotics have been misused and growth promotion is a misuse, in my book, because it leads to problems across the world’.

Certain bugs are now known to be resistant to drugs which used to be able to treat tuberculosis, MRSA and Clostridium difficile. There has also been a rise in superbugs – which are resistant to multiple types of antibiotics.

Consuming most beef of dairy products effectively increases antibiotic resistance – which will eventually create super viruses which could be catastrophic for the human population. 

Climate change

On top of antibiotic resistance, research overwhelming reveals the huge environmental impact of meat and dairy.

Last year, the most comprehensive analysis of the impact of food on our planet concluded that going vegan is the single biggest way we can reduce our impact on the planet.

If everyone went vegan, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% while still feeding the world. 

Meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, but it uses 83% of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

While other factors hugely influence global greenhouse gas emissions, such as air travel and a growing global population, going vegan is the most direct way to reduce our carbon footprint, while avoiding promoting antibiotic resistance. 

What could be done to prevent the rise of antibiotic resistance? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

About The Author

Published by Oli Gross

Oli’s career and personal ethical values both help shape his reporting of the diverse world of veganism. His background is in local newspaper and magazine journalism, and his work has included reporting court cases, celebrity interviews, business analysis, food and drink features and government legislation.



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