Over the weekend, animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) flew a banner with over Queensland polling stations as residents stepped out to cast their votes.
The banner read, “Now, Go Home and Go Vegan!”, encouraging residents of the Gold Coast to head straight home after voting, while at the same time go vegan, which according to PETA, would help prevent future pandemics.
Public health experts believe the virus originated at a live-animal market, and according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 75 per cent of emerging diseases originate in animals.
In this way, COVID-19 is similar to other infamous coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). All three spread from animals to humans. Likewise, swine flu originated in pigs and bird flu in poultry.
Human demand for meat means that huge numbers of animals are often crammed together in unsanitary conditions, which allows pathogens to flourish, making factory farms a breeding ground for new strains of dangerous bacteria and viruses. Hans-Gerhard Wagner of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has called the “intensive industrial farming of livestock” an “opportunity for emerging disease”.
“As well as voting for change, we can all help to prevent future pandemics by going vegan,” said PETA spokesperson Emily Rice.
“Whether it’s an illness that came from wildlife in a wet market, like COVID-19, or from pigs on a filthy farm, like swine flu, the only real way to prevent future panic is by avoiding meat like the plague.”
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