Our Treatment of Animals Caused COVID-19. How can we get to a healthier world?

Image of a poultry farm via Sentient Media

It is well documented that the outbreak of COVID-19 came from our treatment of animals.

The disease transferred from animals to humans at a meat market.

Our current worldwide focus is, sensibly, on slowing down the virus’s rapid spread. We would also be wise to lay the groundwork for the return to a healthier world. 

I believe it’s vital that we begin by looking at the problem’s roots. We must ask the question: Is a changed relationship to animals critical to worldwide health?


To answer that question, let’s assess the risks caused by our current treatment of animals.

  • Do current, mainstream animal agriculture practices pose risks for another disease to emerge?

Yes, according to a book that pulls together well-researched scientific studies. Dr. Michael Greger’s Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching synthesizes numerous studies in an engaging, readable form. In summary, leading public health authorities predict as inevitable a pandemic of influenza, triggered by bird flu and expected to lead to millions of deaths around the globe. This would be a second epidemic, beyond the COVID-19 pandemic we are now experiencing.

  • Are current animal agriculture practices in the U.S. safe and sanitary?

No. As one example shows, companies are allowed to sell meat even if it contains salmonella. This report explains how the policy encourages companies to simply sell infected meat, recalling it only after deaths occur. The report also details an alarming 83% rise in the most dangerous meat and poultry related recalls between 2013-2018.


We should consider this information carefully as we think about how to return to a healthier world than the one we now experience.

If a changed relationship with animals is critical for worldwide health, what change would make the most difference?

Of all the ways we relate to animals, animal agriculture is posing the greatest threat to human health, the well-being of animals, and the well-being of our planet.

Ending animal agriculture and moving to plant-based eating would have many benefits:

The rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus is terrifying. In addition to taking care of each other, let’s work to build a healthier world by changing our relationship with animals. 

Each of us can help bring about positive change by moving toward plant-based eating.

Instead of using animals’ bodies, let’s work for their protection. It’s clear that our well-being is intertwined.

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