Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has been urged to take animals off the menu and make his restaurants 100 percent vegan.
Animal rights charity PETA wrote a letter to Ramsay after hearing that he had been laying off hundreds of staff members amid the coronavirus pandemic. The charity has requested he 'lay off animals, not staff'.
The coronavirus is understood to have started at a wet market in Wuhan, China at the end of last year. Since then, it has spread globally killing more than 53,000 at the time of writing.
PETA notes that areas, where animals are kept closely together amid their own waste, are 'key sites for the transmission of diseases such as bird flu, swine flu, COVID-19, and SARS from animals to humans'.
It adds that this confinement happens on farms around the world, as well as wet markets, describing the coronavirus pandemic as 'our wake-up call'.
"Last year, Ramsay was quoted as saying, 'vegan is on the rise – we've got to adapt', and this sentiment has never rung truer," PETA said in a statement.
It added that it is 'calling on Ramsay to think about the future and how society will want the world to be when this pandemic is over'.
The charity's letter says: "This is a great opportunity to put your creativity to use to help secure the future of the planet and all who call it home".
It follows Ramsay adding a number of plant-based dishes to his restaurant menu - including breakfast options and a Sunday roast.
Meat-eating and pandemics
While there has been debate around eating meat and its relation to the transmission of disease, infectious disease epidemiologist Gregory Gray, from Duke University in North Carolina, says it is a 'significant cofactor' in the genesis of new human diseases.
He made the comments in a Popular Science article titled A vegan world wouldn’t keep diseases like COVID-19 from infecting humans.
While Gray does not believe that going vegan would not stop the transmission of every single zoonotic disease, he said 'we would probably have less contact with animals that we’re either growing or ceasing to capture from the wild for food' if we stopped eating them.