‘All of the recent major disease outbreaks have been caused by tampering with animals’
300 leading doctors of the UK have joined hands with No Meat May, a campaign that urges people to go meatless for 31 days to improve health, end factory farming and save the planet.
Last week, physicians and members of the non-profit organization Plant Based Health Professionals UK founded by Dr. Shireen Kassam and Dr. Gemma Newman popularly known as the Plant Powered Doctor joined the campaign to urge people to stop eating meat calling factory farming a ‘ticking time bomb’.
The novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 316,703 lives so far is popularly believed to have spawned in a Chinese wet market in Wuhan selling live and dead animals in unhygienic and infested conditions.
SARS, MERS, Avian flu and Swine flu are some other examples of zoonotic infections that have resulted from humans exploiting the animal kingdom.
“Some politicians and commentators blame China. They do not mention that all of the recent major disease outbreaks have been caused by tampering with animals, or that our chicken salad and pepperoni pizza could be the next big health risk,” said Dr Newman in a statement.
“Zoonotic diseases like these infect 2.5 billion people each year.”
‘Ticking time bomb’
Along with tampering the animal kingdom, Dr Newman also highlighted that the rampant use of antibiotics on farm animals could soon lead to the next widespread epidemic citing a UN report, which suggests an extra 10 million people may die by 2050 due to antibiotic resistance.
“Antibiotic resistance would end the age of medical progress, returning us to a time when minor injuries and routine operations could be fatal,” she said.
“The inconvenient truth is that factory farms put a strain on animal health, which means we treat them with antibiotics and small doses end up in your meal.
“Our industrial scale poultry farms are like a ticking time bomb.”
Shireen Kassam, MD, echoed Dr Newman’s concerns adding: “More than 90 percent of the meat we consume is produced in industrial scale factory farms, which provide the perfect conditions for the generation of novel infections with epidemic and pandemic potential
“In addition, intensive farming of animals necessitates the widespread use of antibiotics, which has contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of antibiotic-resistant infections affecting humans. We have now entered an era where it is not uncommon for doctors to find themselves treating patients with bacterial infections for which there are no effective antibiotics.”
The No Meat May Campaign
Launched in 2013 by Ryan Alexander & Guy James Whitworth, the campaign is now a global movement that challenges people to eliminate meat from their diets for 31 days.
This year, more than 33,000 participants have pledged to ditch meat for May, which the organizers believe is largely due to meat’s health implications and in light of the current viral pandemic.
“79% of this year’s recruits are motivated to cut out meat or animal products to improve their health, and reduce their risk of chronic diseases,” wrote the charity on Instagram.
“And 37% cited concerns with possible links between the meat industry and public health.”
“It’s hard to say what the COVID-19 effect is,” said Alexander.
“But it’s clear that people are drawing the connection between intensive factory farms and public health concerns.”
Shift towards a safer future
Supporting the campaign, Dr Newman added: “I don’t know when this pandemic will end, or how many lives will be lost. But one thing I do know. I can guarantee that lentils will not spark a viral pandemic anytime soon.
“Many of us are sitting at home wondering what we can do to help this situation. Taking some time to reflect on what we eat, limiting the meat we put in our supermarket trolley and shifting to a more plant-based diet will help us shift towards a safer future.”
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