I recently started reading the book Spillover, which was published in 2012. It’s basically a journalistic book (it reads like a mystery, so it’s fun to read) that documents over time all of the pandemics and viruses that we’ve faced that have originated from animals (it’s the majority of them, if you want to know). While I’ve passively participated in vegan groups, I’ve often read the same sentiment over and over: if we humans stopped eating meat and animal-derived products, pandemics and deadly viruses originating from animals would stop.
If you look to data and science for facts, you would understand that this above belief is simply wrong. One notable example is from the Hendra virus, which began (and ended, ahem, talk about contact tracing and control!!) in Queensland, Australia, in the early 90s. Bats were hanging out at some tree where a horse at a horse ranch liked to rest. One day, the horse got super ill, interacted with all her horse friends, and then she died. Her horse friends who got in proximity to her all died within a week (it was about 40 horses in total). Her closest human care taker died shortly after. Another human, a vet, who interacted with the horse and did her autopsy became ill but survived. These horses were devastating not just for the ranch, but also for the big horse racing business in Australia. With horse racing, you do not eat the horses; you watch them race. So what does this mean: we need to eliminate ANY interaction with EVERY animal on the planet to avoid the next pandemic? How sustainable is that????
Welp. We’re doomed.