The Role of Diet in Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention
There is a single species responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic: humans. Over the last few decades, hundreds of human pathogens have emerged at a rate unprecedented in human history. Emerged from where? Mostly from animals. The AIDS virus is blamed on the butchering of primates in the bushmeat trade in Africa, we created mad cow disease when we turned cows into carnivores and cannibals, and SARS and COVID-19 have been traced back to the exotic wild animal trade. Our last pandemic, swine flu in 2009, arose not from some backwater wet market in Asia, however. It was largely made-in-the-USA on pig production operations in the United States. In this new age of emerging diseases, there are now billions of feathered and curly-tailed test-tubes overcrowded and intensively confined in filthy factory farms for viruses to incubate and mutate within. Today’s animal agricultural practices have given viruses billions more spins at pandemic roulette. How can we stop the emergence of pandemic viruses in the first place? Whenever possible, treat the cause. Discontinuing the intensive confinement of animals in factory farm operations and accelerating the movement to plant-based meat, eggs, and milks are long-overdue steps to shoring up the levees and staving off the next deadly pandemic.
- Describe the role domestication of animals played in the rise of human infectious diseases.
- Describe the role so-called factory farming and the intensification of the meat, egg, and dairy industries have played in the unprecedented emergence of new zoonotic diseases in last half century.
- Describe ways in which we can stop the emergence of pandemic viruses in the first place.