A vegan organization says people should 'take personal responsibility' and help prevent future pandemics by going vegan.
PETA made the comments as it asked Weymouth Town Council a banner, which says 'It’s High Time We Went Vegan' could be hung from the Jubilee clock tower.
The charity says the banner would 'inform residents that the best way to prevent future pandemics is by taking meat, eggs, and dairy off our plates'.
"The clock is ticking until the next pandemic – as long as animals are confined amid their own filth at meat markets, we risk another SARS, MERS, avian flu, or swine flu outbreak," PETA director, Elisa Allen, said.
"We can’t turn back the clock, but PETA’s banner will encourage everyone to take personal responsibility and help prevent the next global health crisis by going vegan."
The charity adds: "The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 75 percent of recent infectious diseases affecting humans began in animals. The novel coronavirus originated in a meat market, and influenza viruses have begun in pigs and chickens."
PETA's assertion that future health crises are likely to be connected to animal agriculture follow the launch of a doctor-backed white paper whose authors say they have tied 'most if not all' of the world’s major outbreaks of infectious diseases since 1900 to animal exploitation.
The paper, COVID-19 and Animal Exploitation: Preventing the Next Global Pandemic, was compiled by animal advocacy Surge and reviewed by Dr. Michael Greger - a leading plant-based doctor with a background in infectious disease. His new book, How to Survive a Pandemic, is available now* (it is not connected with Surge or the white paper).
The fully referenced 13-page document 'establishes the basic principles of pandemics and zoonotic diseases before examining every major zoonoses since the turn of the 20th century - from 1918 flu (H1N1) and HIV, to ebola and SARS-CoV-2 - within the context of animal exploitation'.
Reduce the risk of future pandemics
In a statement sent to Plant Based News, Ed Winters, co-director of Surge, said: "As we continue through the grip of this current COVID-19 pandemic, we must use this time to ensure that we do everything we can to reduce the risk of a future pandemic.
"As is proven by our white paper, going vegan and dismantling animal farming and the other industries of animal exploitation is the single biggest step that we can take to mitigate future pandemic risk."
He added that COVID-19 has caused 'unimaginable suffering, pain, and anguish'- even though the deadliness of the outbreak 'doesn’t even come close' to many of the most pernicious zoonotic diseases.
Winters cited 'strains of avian influenza that have mortality rates as high as 30 percent and 60 percent - far deadlier than the current pandemic.
He concluded: "In our current world, the discussion of pandemics is never a question of if, but instead when. We must act now, for if we don’t, there is no telling how dangerous the next pandemic could be."
*How To Survive A Pandemic is available on Kindle and in audiobook format, and in paperback from August 20.