Veganism vs Coronaviruses and Other Human Diseases

Animal agriculture and trading is not only making our planet sick environmentally through large scale deforestation, food and water misuse, global warming and pollution of our land, water and air, it is also at the root of most diseases, from Cancer, Heart Ailments, Diabetes, Arthiritis, Thyroid problems, Stomach Ailments to Bacterial and Viral Infections including deadly Coronaviruses. We have already seen the global ramifications of Covid-19 in a short period of time, said to originate in the animal and seafood market in Wuhan, China. While this led to the Chinese government banning wildlife trading for now,  this is not enough, because pathogens are spread due to our exploitation of farm animals, seafood, pets and not just wildlife trade.

It is not mere physical disease, but also mental health that is grossly affected by our senseless practice of animal farming. Controlling, confining, selling, buying, breeding, hybridising, sexually abusing, caging, stealing from, hurting, mentally, emotionally and physically torturing and killing others, and justifying these acts for economic, social, nutrition, taste or habitual reasons could only be a sign of a very sick society. With the way this level of crime against others is normalised in the name of farming, it is no wonder that crimes such as theft, abuse, rape, murder and terrorism do not surprise ordinary human beings even when inflicted within members of our own species.

Even if we focus primarily on physical evidence of human suffering due to animal agriculture, we have thousands of research studies to confirm the same. According to several research studies animal exploitation is the leading cause of infectious diseases, for instance a leading study states the following: current information suggests that 8 of the 15 temperate diseases probably or possibly reached humans from domestic animals (diphtheria, influenza A, measles, mumps, pertussis, rotavirus, smallpox, tuberculosis); three more probably reached us from apes (hepatitis B) or rodents (plague, typhus); and the other four (rubella, syphilis, tetanus, typhoid) came from still-unknown sources. Thus, the rise of agriculture starting 11,000 years ago played multiple roles in the evolution of animal pathogens into human pathogens (). Those roles included both generation of the large human populations necessary for the evolution and persistence of human crowd diseases, and generation of large populations of domestic animals, with which farmers came into much closer and more frequent contact than hunter/gatherers had with wild animals. Moreover, as illustrated by influenza A, these domestic animal herds served as efficient conduits for pathogen transfers from wild animals to humans, and in the process may have evolved specialized crowd diseases of their own.’ (Wolfe ND, Dunavan CP, Diamond J. ORIGINS OF MAJOR HUMAN INFECTIOUS DISEASES. In: Institute of Medicine (US). Improving Food Safety Through a One Health Approach: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US), 2012)

In this paper on Livestock zoonoses, it is discussed that ’60 per cent of all known infectious agents are zoonotic (), it is estimated that approximately 75 per cent of ‘new’ human pathogens reported in the past 25 years have originated in animals and the risk of zoonoses is predicted to continue to increase (). Infectious diseases are remarkably difficult to eliminate and only smallpox virus has formally been eradicated. (Fiona M. Tomley, Martin W. Shirley, Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2009 Sep 27)

Similarly agriculture related research indicates that ‘a majority of viruses emerge from zoonotic animal reservoirs, often by adapting and infecting intermediate hosts, such as domestic animals and livestock. Viruses that are known foodborne threats include hepatitis E virus, tick-borne encephalitis virus, enteroviruses, adenovirus, and astroviruses, among others. Viruses may potentially evolve and emerge as a result of modern agricultural practices which can concentrate livestock and bring them into contact with wild animals. Examples of viruses that have emerged in this manner are influenza, coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome, and the Nipah virus. The role of bats, bush meat, rodents, pigs, cattle, and poultry as reservoirs from which infectious pathogenic viruses emerge are discussed.’ (Kingsley DH. Microbiol Spectr. 2016 Aug).

According to another study, ‘controlling disease due to pathogens that move between animals and humans has been challenging. Such zoonotic pathogens have been responsible for the majority of new human disease threats and a number of recent international epidemics. Currently, our surveillance systems often lack the ability to monitor the human–animal interface for emergent pathogens.’ The paper examines gastroentistinal, cutanous, pulmonary, cardioavascular, neurological and systemic human diseases linked with cattle farming and identified 45 pathogens. (Clinton J. McDaniel, Diana M. Cardwell, Robert B. Moeller, Jr., Gregory C. Gray, Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2014 Jan 1).

Another research assessed 56 zoonoses, together responsible for around 2.5 billion cases of human illness, and 2.7 million human deaths a year. (Grace, Delia & Mutua, Florence & Ochungo, Pamela & Kruska, R. & Jones, Kate & Brierley, Liam & Lapar, Ma. Lucila & Said, M. & Herrero, Mario & Pham-Duc, Phuc & Tao, N. & Akuku, Isaiah & Ogutu, Fredrick. (2012). Mapping of poverty and likely zoonoses hotspots. Zoonoses Project. 4. 1-119.)

Here are just some of the diseases we can prevent by elimination of animal farming and switching to a ethical vegan lifestyle.

  1. Influenza: According to a leading research report ‘Our knowledge indicates that the intermittent pandemics of influenza originate from influenza viruses or gene segments from influenza viruses in lower animals and birds. These pandemics can be mild to catastrophic. (Webster RG. Vaccine. 2002 May). 
    Spanish flu 1918–1920 H1N1 China origin 40–50 million deaths
    Asian flu 1957–1958 H2N2 China origin 1–2 million deaths
    Hong Kong flu 1968–1970 H3N2 China origin 500,000–2 million deaths
    Swine flu 2009–2010 H1N1 Mexico origin Up to 575,000 deaths
    Source: Patrick R. Saunders-Hastings, Daniel Krewski, Pathogens. 2016 Dec
  2. Coronaviruses: According to CAS Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, China , ‘Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) are two highly transmissible and pathogenic viruses that emerged in humans at the beginning of the 21st century. Both viruses likely originated in bats.’ (Cui J, Li F, Shi ZL. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2019 Mar). Videos of people consuming bats and other rodents were circulated across social media the world over just before the outbreak of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic in Jan 2020 and scientists concur it is likely due to wildlife trade of bats and other ‘exotic species’ sold for consumption openly. Once the virus infiltratesd humans it spread the world over through social contact.
  3. Ebola: ‘Ebola virus is one of the most deadly pathogens known to infect humans’ as per research reports. ‘The first recognized Ebola outbreak occurred in 1976, near the Ebola River in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC). Over the past 40 years, more than 20 outbreaks have occurred in Africa. EVD is a zoonotic disease, but its natural animal reservoir remains unknown. Several species of small animals have been implicated as reservoirs. Human infection can also occur through contact with wild animals, such as by hunting, butchering or preparing meat from infected animals. Transmission to household contacts is associated with close contact with sick patients, their body fluids or their remains. (Athena P. Kourtis, Kristie Appelgren, Michelle S. Chevalier, Anita McElroy, Pediatr Infect Dis J,
  4. Bacterial Infections: A well researched study on Animal Sources of E-coli illiustrates the potential hazards of beef, hamburgers and contaminated meat, salami or other animal products such as dairy and animal hide and even vegetables such as spinach that are in contact with manure, leading to spread of  Enterohemorrhagic escherichia coli (EHEC) with devastating or life-threatening systemic manifestations. (Witold A. Ferens, Carolyn J. Hovde, Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2011 Apr). Another manuscript on food borne diseases reviews the evidence that links animals as vehicles of the foodborne pathogens Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shiga toxigenic E. coli, and L. monocytogenes, their impact, and their current status. Researchers conclude that these pathogenic bacteria will continue causing outbreaks and deaths throughout the world, because no effective interventions have eliminated them from animals and food. (Norma Heredia, Santos García, Anim Nutr. 2018 Sep; 4)
  5. Bovine Leukemia Virus: Latest research has indicated ‘Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) infection is widespread in cattle globally and is present in marketed beef and dairy products. Human infection with BLV has been reported in breast and lung cancer tissues and was significantly associated with breast cancer in 3 case-control studies. Also, system wide circulation of infected blood cells could facilitate BLV transit to various internal tissues/organs with potential for their infection and subsequent development of cancer. The most likely route of BLV transmission to humans would be zoonotic, as a foodborne infection.’ (Buehring, G.C., DeLaney, A., Shen, H. et al. Bovine leukemia virus discovered in human blood. BMC Infect Dis 19, 297, 2019)
  6. Ovarian Cancer: A research on 61,084 women aged 38-76 in a Swedish Mammography Cohort revealed women who consumed more than or equal to 4 servings of total dairy products doubled the risk of serous ovarian cancer. Milk was the dairy product with the strongest positive association with serous ovarian cancer rate ratio doubling with more than one glass of milk compared with consuming milk never or seldom. (Larsson SC, Bergkvist L, Wolk A. Milk and lactose intakes and ovarian cancer risk in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;80(5):1353-7. PubMed PMID: 15531686)
  7. Breast Cancer: Analysis of global research shows egg consumption was associated with increased breast cancer risk among the European, Asian and postmenopausal population and those who consumed two to five eggs a week. (Si R, Qu K, Jiang Z, Yang X, Gao P. Egg consumption and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis. Breast Cancer. 2014 May). Dairy milk due to sex hormone content (70% of dairy cows are pregnant), and likely ability to raise levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 were tested for links with breast cancer hypothesis in the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) cohort n 2019. The research noted steeper rises in breast cancer risk at intakes of dairy milk up to ¾ cup per day. Researchers concluded that dairy milk consumption is clearly associated with risk of breast cancer after adjusting for soy intake and those at higher risk of breast cancer may gain advantage by limiting milk intake and considering dairy substitutes. (Fraser G, Miles F, Orlich M, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Mashchak A. Dairy Milk Is Associated with Increased Risk of Breast Cancer in the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) Cohort (P05-026-19). Curr Dev Nutr. 2019 Published 2019 Jun 13)
  8. Prostrate Cancer: In a study on 27,607 men followed from 1997 to 2008 it was found that those who consumed 2.5 or more eggs per week had an 81% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer compared with men who consumed less than 0.5 eggs per week. (Erin L. RichmanStacey A. KenfieldMeir J. StampferEdward L. Giovannucci and June M. Chan, Cancer Prev Res Trials on physicians in U.S. found that those consuming more than 2.5 servings of dairy had 32% higher risk of prostate cancer. (Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, Gann PH, Gaziano JM, Giovannucci EL. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001). Red meat intake was associated with an increased risk for all prostate cancer while red meat, processed meat, heme iron, nitrite/nitrate from meat, grilled/barbecued meat, and were associated with elevated risks of advanced prostate cancer in a large cohort study of 175343 U.S. men with a 9 year follow up. (Rashmi Sinha, Yikyung Park, Barry I. Graubard, Michael F. Leitzmann, Albert Hollenbeck, Arthur Schatzkin, Amanda J. Cross, Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Nov 1)
  9. Lung Cancer: In a research on 22,788 individuals in Sweden with lactose intolerance, risks of lung, breast and ovarian cancers were significantly lesser in those who avoided dairy. (Ji J, Sundquist J, Sundquist K. Lactose intolerance and risk of lung, breast and ovarian cancers: aetiological clues from a population-based study in Sweden. Br J Cancer. 2015 Jan 6)
  10. Colorectoral Cancer: According to an analysis of 13 studies, daily increase of 100g (one portion) of all meat or red meat is associated with a significant 12-17% increased risk of CRC (average RR is 1.17 with 95% CI of 1.05-1.31 for the random-effects model). A significant 49% increased risk was also found for a daily increase of 25 g of processed meat (about one slice). (Sandhu MS, White IR, McPherson K. Systematic review of the prospective cohort studies on meat consumption and colorectal cancer risk: a meta-analytical approach. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2001 May). Research updates of 2018 with an examination of multiple studies across the world confirming association between red and processed meat-colorectal cancer risk. (Benarba B. Red and processed meat and risk of colorectal cancer: an update. EXCLI J. 2018;17:792–797. Published 2018 Aug 8)
  11. Thyroid Cancer:  Data from more than 290,000 participants with ten years of follow up in a U.S. research ascertained that adolescent intakes of chicken/turkey and canned tuna was associated with increased risk of thyroid cancer in later years. (Melissa Z. Braganza, Nancy Potischman, Yikyung Park, Frances E. Thompson, Albert R. Hollenbeck, Cari M. Kitahara, Int J Cancer. . In a case controlled study in Kuwait, high consumption of processed fish products, fresh fish and chicken were independently associated with thyroid cancer with significant dose-response relationships. (Memon A, Varghese A, Suresh A. Benign thyroid disease and dietary factors in thyroid cancer: a case-control study in Kuwait. Br J Cancer. 2002 Jun 5)
  12. Thyroid Dysfunctions: Grave’s disease is a important cause of hyperthyroidism. In a study of 69,581 Adventist church members in U.S. and Canada, it was found that exclusion of all animal foods was associated with half the prevalence of hyperthyroidism compared with omnivorous diets. (Serena Tonstad, Edward Nathan, Keiji Oda, Gary E Fraser, Public Health Nutr. Also as per this analysis of adventist research, Vegan versus omnivorous diets tended to be associated with reduced risk while a lacto-ovo diet was associated with increased risk of hypothyroidism. (Serena Tonstad, Edward Nathan, Keiji Oda, Gary Fraser, Nutrients. 2013 Nov; 5)
  13. Chronic Cough and Phlegm: A population-based cohort study of 63,257 middle-aged Chinese men and women in Singapore with to ascertain relation between dietary intake at baseline and new onset of cough with phlegm. Findings were that a diet high in fiber from fruit and, possibly, soyfoods may reduce the incidence of chronic respiratory symptoms possibly due to flavonoids in plant based food. (Butler LM, Koh WP, Lee HP, Yu MC, London SJ. Dietary fiber and reduced cough with phlegm: a cohort study in Singapore. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004 Aug)
  14. Allergic Rhinitis and Sinus: Research in chronic sinsusitis and nasal polyps has concluded that cow’s milk but not wheat allergy might be a relevant pathogenetic entity. (Lill C, Loader B, Seemann R, Zumtobel M, Brunner M, Heiduschka G, Thurnher D. Milk allergy is frequent in patients with chronic sinusitis and nasal polyposis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2011 Nov-Dec). In a blinded trial of 108 NHS patients in Hertfordshire, UK, a dairy-free diet was associated with a significant reduction in self-reported levels of nasopharyngeal secretions in adults who previously complained of persistent nasopharyngeal mucus hypersecretion. (Frosh A, Cruz C, Wellsted D, Stephens J. Effect of a dairy diet on nasopharyngeal mucus secretion. Laryngoscope. 2019 Jan)
  15. Asthma: Multiple Research on diet and asthma indicates dietary patterns, such as the Western diet of highly processed foods, resulting in high intakes of refined grains, processed and red meats, desserts and sweets, fried foods, and high-fat dairy products have pro-inflammatory effects. On the contrary high intake of fruits and vegetables has anti-inflammatory properties. (Laurent Guilleminault, Evan J. Williams, Hayley A. Scott, Bronwyn S. Berthon, Megan Jensen, Lisa G. Wood, Nutrients. 2017 Nov).
  16. Respiratory Diseases in Animal Farms: Research reports since the late 1990s, there has been knowledge of multiple respiratory diseases associated with working in animal confinement environments including rhinitis, chronic bronchitis, COPD, asthma, asthma-like, ODTS, and hypersensitivity pneumonia. Large animal farming is a strong risk factor toward the development of occupational asthma diseases. (Sara May, Debra J. Romberger, Jill A. Poole, J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev.
  17. Coronary Ailments: Compelling data from nutritional studies, population surveys, and interventional studies support the effectiveness of a plant-based diet and aggressive lipid lowering to arrest, prevent, and selectively reverse heart disease. (Esselstyn CB Jr. Resolving the Coronary Artery Disease Epidemic Through Plant-Based Nutrition. Prev Cardiol. 2001). On the contrary research findings suggest that neither unprocessed red nor processed meat consumption is beneficial for cardiometabolic health, and that clinical and public health guidance should especially prioritize reducing processed meat consumption. (Renata Micha, Georgios Michas, Dariush Mozaffarian, Curr Atheroscler Rep.
  18. Diabetes: According to research on diet and diabetes, there is evidence that a vegan diet has the most benefits for reducing the fasting plasma glucose levels of persons with diabetes and other complications, such as CVD (Cardio Vascular Disease) risk. (Melissa D. Olfert, Rachel A. Wattick, Curr Diab Rep. 2018; 18(11): 101. Published online 2018 Sep 18). However research on more than 124000 patients  in U.S.has also concluded red meat consumption, particularly processed red meat, is associated with an increased risk of T2D (Type 2 Diabetes) 
  19. Arthiritis: Multiple researches on a variety of diets have been quoted to declare that a vegan diet is clinically beneficial for disease remission in RA (rheumatoid arthiritis) patients. Fasting followed by vegan diet or vegan diet alone can potentially reduce symptoms and disease activity in RA patients independent of changes in intestinal microflora. Improvements observed can be attributed to reduced exposure to potential antigens contributed by the omnivorous diet of RA patients. (Shweta Khanna, Kumar Sagar Jaiswal, Bhawna Gupta, Front Nutr. 2017; 4: 52. Published online 2017 Nov 8)
  20. Osteoporosis: In a 12-year prospective study among 77761 women, aged 34 through 59 years who had never used calcium supplements, found no evidence that higher intakes of milk or calcium from food sources reduce fracture incidence. (Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. Am J Public Health. 1997 Jun)

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