Viruses such as COVID-19, SARS, bovine spongiform, swine flu and avian flu all have something in common: They are all from animals, scientists have described. zoonotic diseases.
However, these diseases are never “from animals.” After all, it’s not like animals conspiring against humans, smashing COVID-19 on the back fence of the house. If we say that this pandemic “comes from animals,” it means that these diseases come from the way animals grow, harvest and eat.
A well -established policy strategy for preventing the next pandemic should include reducing the demand for animal products. Fortunately, an effective approach doesn’t have to mean the government tells people what they should or shouldn’t eat.
Many Canadians are already aware of benefits of plant -based food. Doing a better job of supporting those already trying to change diet can be an effective approach for government policy.
Zoonosis and food production
The fact that a growing list of pandemics exclusively originates within the livestock and agricultural sectors is not new to the small but growing group of independent scientists. Only now has the United Nations expressed similar concern.
In its report, Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission, the UN has set out a number of criteria for improving health management in relation to food production.
Some of the policy options include expanding scientific inquiry into the environmental dimensions of zoonotic diseases and developing and implementing more robust biosecurity measures. It calls for policies that strengthen animal health (including wildlife health services) and increased capacity to monitor and control food production.
The report also recommends that states find ways to reduce the need for animal protein. Reducing meat demand is not something we often hear of as a possible policy option – in part because people may not be able to link our current food pandemic to the western or agricultural sectors.
Beginnings of a pandemic
Early cases of COVID-19 linked to Chinese markets where wildlife is sold. Pangolins and batter identified as possible causes of infection, nor is it on the sales lists of the average global consumer. However, the deeper the root of this pandemic, the more complicated it is.
Many of the earlier viruses came from the production chain of the agricultural industry.
It is clear that the origin of pandemics is not limited to certain countries or specific methods, such as “wet markets. ”For some researchers, including Sweden’s chief physician and professor of infectious diseases Björn Olsen, resisting the rising demand for meat and dairy is essential part of reducing our risk for pandemics.
Olsen, who is known for his eating early critic of his government’s COVID-19 response, is now known for its early warning – one he has done in books and articles for almost 10 years now. In a in a recent interview in Sweden, Olsen explains that pandemic viruses all arise where animals and humans meet, and raising billions of animals as food has repercussions.
Think of it all in reverse: not a single disease in human history has been traced to plants.
While strengthening management and monitoring capacity is an important part of an effective policy approach, when societies replace food sources with plant-based foods, they also reduce risk of future pandemics. Olsen worries that the link between rising demand for animal protein and pandemics will not get enough attention from politicians.
Plant -based diet as a policy
One reason why politicians may not see a move towards a plant-based diet as a viable policy option is possible because it relies on changing people’s behavior, and the others argued that governments should not be in the business of trying to impose dietary options. Yet there is good reason to think that people are already open to switching to plant -based diets.
As a recent one UN survey, 30 percent of the world supports plant -based food as a climate policy. Canadians are no exception. Actually, almost 10 percent of the total Canadian population is vegan or vegetarian, according to a Study in 2018 led by Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of supply and nutrition policy at Dalhousie University. The number of people trying to eat plant -based foods is growing rapidly. In a talk, Charlebois said:
“In 2018 we estimate that 6.4 million Canadians are already following a diet that restricts meat consumption in part or entirely… But now we’ve changed that number to 10.2 million. Things are changing -or really, faster than before. ”
With these changes in food preferences already taking place, the Canadian government no longer needs to look further than removing barriers for people to continue to make up their own minds. To support their migration and reduce demand for animal products, the Canadian government must do as much as possible to reduce what most see as harmless plant -based food.
It can start by reviewing food purchasing and nutrition standards to ensure that public facilities such as schools, hospitals, prisons and nursing homes offer a plant-based diet as the basis of menus. every day.
Focus on food guidance
The government should also look at putting its own food guidelines into practice and make plant-based foods more accessible, including to low-income earners, towns and northern residents. If the Canadian government revises its Canadian dietary guidelines in 2019, it will be heavily consulted by nutritionists and scientists. The result is an increased focus on plants as a source of protein, and a reduction in the weight of meat and milk.
The Canadian food guide tells us that “choose protein foods derived from plants regularly. ”However, despite this and the fact that consumption continues decline in Canada from 2009, fresh milk still receives the highest level of subsidies within the Subsidized nutrition in North Canada – a federal program aimed at ensuring adequate nutrition in the North. A step is needed to help provide foods that will benefit people and the planet.
We know that dietary habits have an impact on the environment as well as an impact on health. Because there is also a clear connection between consumption of animal products and zoonotic diseases, there is more reason for policymakers to support people who want to switch to a diet-based approach. in the plant.
It is not easy to start trying to prevent the next disaster; experts warn it could come at any hour. Since the SARS epidemic in 2003, the time between outbreaks of zoonotic viruses is getting shorter. It’s not a question of whether there will be another pandemic, but when.