The 20th century has brought us closer than ever. Taking flights to get from one part of the world to the other, traveling through the same continent within a few days – we take these things for granted.
The truth is that now we are all more connected than ever and if something happens in a small town far away from where you live, it doesn’t mean it won’t impact you: the spread of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is making that clearer than ever.
We rarely think of the downsides of globalization in terms of health, which were evident even before today. COVID-19 isn’t the first virus to threaten our daily life and existence. SARS, MERS, swine flu, bird flu… we have been there before, although our situation has never looked as dire as today.
Unfortunately, this probably won’t be the last time we are left facing such a crisis, and it’s time we face the issue at hand: our appalling treatment of animals is coming back to bite us in the ass.
It’s not definitive, but the consensus is that the virus originated in an open, live animal market, known in China as a wet market, where animals are slaughtered on the spot for customers to take home and eat.
The poor hygienic conditions make markets of this kind fertile ground for the spread of viruses and infections, but we mustn’t make the error of thinking that China is alone in this or that they’re the worst offenders.
Secret investigations carried out by animal rights activists have shown that farms in Europe and America, for example, often fail to meet the so-called animal welfare standards. There are videos online of butchers selling meat with carcinogenic parts in it. Livestock is pumped full of antibiotics.
How can we expect to use, abuse and kill animals, and then eat them, without any repercussions for our health?
This pandemic is our fault, which is not to say we deserve it, or we are asking for it – but we do need to pull our heads out of the sand and take action. We need to stop, pause, and take some time to ask ourselves: is it really necessary to exploit our fellow animals in such a cruel way? Can’t we do better?
I don’t consider myself naive, and I know fully well that not everybody is ready to go plant-based, but I am still hopeful. People tend to wave this off. They will say things like, ‘We’ve always done it this way’ or ‘You can’t just stop the whole system overnight’.
Well, my objections are these: just because something has always been done doesn’t make it right, and secondly and most importantly, societies have continuously evolved and changed – we are not going to stop now.
So far, areas that have been quarantined are already showing signs of improved air and water quality, a light in the dark amidst the awful news we keep hearing on TV and the media about the number of deaths and infected people.
We will get to the point where we will have to reduce or stop our consumption of animal flesh because the planet can’t take it, our bodies can’t take it. Not overnight, but we will get there. Revolutions take time.