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Coronavirus, SARS, MERS, all preventable? Here's how.

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Coronavirus, SARS, MERS, all preventable? Here's how.

What do Sars, Mers and Covid-19 have in common with Bird Flu, Swine Flu and Mad Cow?

The health benefits of a balanced vegan diet are all too well known, veganism is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and stroke. Lately it's become clear that veganism is not only important for our individual health, but for the health of all humans as a whole. 

The answer to my initial question is not shocking, they’re all diseases that have caused widespread panic, and they’re all diseases that have been directly caused by the use of animals for food, a practice that by now we all know is completely unnecessary.

Sars, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome had a fatality rate of 9.6% and took the lives of 774 people in 2002 and 2003. Sars was originally thought to be caused by the consumption of the masked palm civet, a small mammal native to Southeast Asia. This has recently been shown to be false, the true culprit being the Chinese Rufous Horseshoe Bat. 

MERS, also known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, has a fatality rate of 39% (rather high when compared with the around 0.5% fatality rate of the Flu.). The blame for MERS has mostly been laid on a kind of bat, which transmitted the disease to camels, who in turn gave it to us. 

Originally, the humble pangolin was accused of being responsible for 2020’s coronavirus, or Covid-19. Which at time of writing has a resume of almost 90,000 total cases, affecting 67 countries world wide. While it’s too early to say for sure, the most likely culprit is, again, a species of bat. 

Interestingly, the 2020’s Covid-19’s birthplace is actually known. With good money being placed on a specific wet market in Wuhan, China. Wet markets like the The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan are common throughout the globe, where live and dead animals are sold side by side for consumption by humans. This mix of humans, live, and dead animals makes it extremely easy for zoonotic viruses - viruses that are transmittable from animals to humans - like Covid-19 to gain foothold and spread.

What can we do to prevent future viruses in the future? The answer is simple. If animal markets spread killer diseases, as PETA’s recent campaign claims, we need to leave animals off our plates. 

Live animal markets are nowhere near as common in the West as they are in the East, but as 2009’s swine flu, Bird Flu and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease have shown us, animal based diseases are not limited to the consumption of obscure forms of wildlife. These diseases are born from standard forms of animal agriculture. We’re not safe from animal based diseases. Going vegan is a surefire way of drastically reducing the likelihood of further zoonotic virus outbreaks.  Suddenly the common catch cry of “save lives, go vegan” gains a whole new meaning.

Article by Huw Watson

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  • Jessica Bailey
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