3/19/2020 1 Comment
In these challenging times, during the coronavirus pandemic, I pray for the healing and safety for all living beings. While the world is trying to survive this global health world crisis, although some do not want to discuss this topic, there is no better time than now to learn how we can prevent further pandemics. This can be done, in part, with own conscious and compassionate food choices.
While we are feeling the direct effect, both individually and globally, from this crisis, this is an opportunity for people to make a needed change. And we need this, not later, but now. Some people say that eating animals is a personal choice, and prefer that others do not speak about the harmful effects of animal agriculture, the wildlife trade, fishing industry, animal entertainment (circuses) and the leather and fur for fashion industry). However, what we eat effects everyone...not only the animals lives taken, but human lives as well.
As the world suffers from the coronavirus pandemic, what have we learned, that can prevent this in the future? Many are taking drastic measures to socially distance and create hygiene habits to prevent the spreading of the virus, while we are treating people in hospitals and mourning the losses of already thousands of deaths from this, with sadly, more to come.
Our food choices either supports compassion or the animal cruelty that cause these viruses. I hope that more people shift to a vegan diet that is in alignment with harmony and peace, for the earth, humans and all animals.
There are many other benefits too, when shifting from animal consumption to vegan eating. The human health, earth sustainability and the animals will all benefit. This challenging time can be a positive opportunity for humans to make healthy, conscious and compassionate choices, that will aid in the sustainability of our precious planet, for humanity as a whole, and most definitely for the animals.
The worst epidemics in history originated from the factory farms, animal exploitation and wet markets, from people killing and eating animals. The coronavirus itself can go from snakes and bats to humans, as was proven via research in January 2020. This was published in the Journal of Medical Virology, titled "Cross‐species transmission of the newly identified coronavirus 2019‐nCoV". The research states: "The current outbreak of viral pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, China, was caused by a novel coronavirus designated 2019‐nCoV by the World Health Organization, as determined by sequencing the viral RNA genome. Many initial patients were exposed to wildlife animals at the Huanan seafood wholesale market, where poultry, snake, bats, and other farm animals were also sold. To investigate possible virus reservoir, we have carried out comprehensive sequence analysis and comparison in conjunction with relative synonymous codon usage (RSCU) bias among different animal species based on the 2019‐nCoV sequence. Results obtained from our analyses suggest that the 2019‐nCoV may appear to be a recombinant virus between the bat coronavirus and an origin‐unknown coronavirus...Additionally, our findings suggest that 2019‐nCoV has most similar genetic information with bat coronavirus and most similar codon usage bias with snake....In summary, results derived from our evolutionary analysis suggest that 2019‐nCoV has most similar genetic information with bat coronavirus and has most similar codon usage bias with snake. Additionally, a homologous recombination may occurred within the viral receptor‐binding spike glycoprotein, which may determine cross‐species transmission."
In the article "Bats are not to blame for coronavirus. Humans are" on CNN, it says "The underlying causes of zoonotic spillover from bats or from other wild species have almost always -- always -- been shown to be human behavior," said Cunningham. "Human activities are causing this."
When a bat is stressed -- by being hunted, or having its habitat damaged by deforestation -- its immune system is challenged and finds it harder to cope with pathogens it otherwise took in its stride. "We believe that the impact of stress on bats would be very much as it would be on people," said Cunningham.
"It would allow infections to increase and to be excreted -- to be shed. You can think of it like if people are stressed and have the cold sore virus, they will get a cold sore. That is the virus being 'expressed.' This can happen in bats too."
Pathogens that have evolved in bats can withstand a high body temperature, so a human fever will not work as a defense mechanism.
In the likely epicenter of the virus -- the so-called wet-markets of Wuhan, China -- where wild animals are held captive together and sold as delicacies or pets, a terrifying mix of viruses and species can occur.
"If they are being shipped or held in markets, in close proximity to other animals or humans," said Cunningham, "then there is a chance those viruses are being shed in large numbers." He said the other animals in a market like that are also more vulnerable to infection as they too are stressed.
"We are increasing transport of animals -- for medicine, for pets, for food -- at a scale that we have never done before," said Kate Jones, Chair of Ecology and Biodiversity at University College London.
"We are also destroying their habitats into landscapes that are more human-dominated. Animals are mixing in weird ways that have never happened before. So in a wet market, you are going to have a load of animals in cages on top of each other."
As Sharon Gannon, author of Yoga and Veganism: Diet for Enlightenment says, "Coronavirus is a zoonotic disease—meaning the virus jumped from animals to humans. The stress of confinement suffered by trapped and enslaved animals is known to bring about pathologies. We know this from past pandemics. Mutations allow diseases to jump species: trichinosis, tuberculosis, and swine flu were originally diseases found in pigs, influenza came from avian (bird) flu, horsepox mutated into smallpox, bovine rinderpest became measles, Creutzfeldt-Jakobs disease is the human equivalent of mad cow disease. The 2003 SARs pandemic like today’s Covid-19 is thought to have been transmitted by bats. Many scientists think that AIDs spread to humans through bush meat. The 2014 Ebola outbreak originating in Africa was believed to be caused by eating bushmeat. Bushmeat refers to many species of wild animals including bats, antelopes, monkeys, snakes, and rats."
Most people are not eating bats and snakes, so may not connect this issue to eating other animals, as it relates to pandemics. However, other viruses have started in factory farms, where animals and baby animals, (including pigs, chickens, and cows) are bred and kept in captivity. The fish farms also breed disease. Both meat and dairy foods can create this problem. We can make choices that either prevent or support this horrifically cruel industry, which can also be the breeding grounds for pandemics.
Animals, whom deserve to be free in their natural habitat and free of suffering, are held in cages, in brutal conditions or crammed together in CAFO's (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), that can spread disease and kill not only the animals themselves, but eventually the humans too. Many people think that when then eat pigs or cows, eggs, cheese and milk, they are eating once alive animals who were once free and roaming in beautiful green pastures, living happy lives with a pain free slaughter. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, 99% of animals eaten in the USA come from factory farms, per PETA and Factory Farm Awareness Coalition. Have you ever been inside of or seen footage of a factory farm or slaughter house? Would you want to?
The meat and dairy companies purposely have duped society by their advertising, to increase meat and dairy sales. People's parents and grandparents passed down the belief that the animals you eat were once happy and free, and that your health will not have ill effect from eating them, but in fact will benefit. Both of these are complete untruths. Knowledge is power, so it is time for humans to awaken and make compassionate and educated choices, for the benefit of all.
In terms of health, the animal agriculture industry also have falsely stated via advertising, how you need animal protein and cow's milk for human health, when that also is the opposite of the truth. (You can read "How Not To Die" and How Not To Diet" books by Dr. Michael Greger for more details on this.) In fact the animal products can cause heart diseases, some cancers and other health issues. I know this firsthand, as our family was raised vegetarian. I never ate even one bite of an animal in my life (chicken, cows, pigs or fish.) I am now vegan, along with my 80 yr old father (and his vegan dog Davinchi.)
I not only experience the health benefits of this diet personally, but as a yoga teacher for 25 years, educating people on the yogic diet (vegetarian or vegan), I also see my students health improve when then shift their eating habits. I also see people reduce medication and symptoms of diabetes and heart disease, as well as from joint pain and other benefits of eating a plant-based, whole foods vegan diet. I see this weekly, because I am a Stress Management Specialist for the N. CA Ornish Heart Disease Reversal Program, covered by Medicare and research based. I see firsthand that you can not only prevent heart disease from a vegan or vegetarian diet (in conjunction with yoga or stress management, exercise and social support), but that you can even reverse it. Dr. Ornish did the same study on lifestyle medicine with prostate disease and found similar results. I am currently teaching for his Alzheimer's research study as well, on the same lifestyle and vegan diet. I love watching the participants feel more energy, lost weight and feel better from this diet and lifestyle.
I will conclude with some wisdom from vegan yoga masters. This morning (March 19, 2020), a 80 year old vegan🌱yoga master Dharma Mittra said at the end of his live online class: “This virus is because people are killing and eating animals. So please stop.” He also said “have compassion for all living beings, even the virus." That last part takes compassion to the next level!
Sharon Gannon, author of Yoga and Veganism: the diet of enlightenment: “In the UK some supermarkets have closed their fish and meat counters to ”Stock What Our Customers Really Need.” If we are closing schools, restaurants and gyms to reduce infection - why not get smart and close factory farms, meat markets and slaughterhouses - as they are dangerous breeding ground for contagious diseases caused by viruses? The coronavirus is one such virus. We don’t have to wait for “them” to close the farms, meat markets and slaughterhouses - we can close them by not buying such cruel commodities and not being silent - speaking up for the animals and the Earth. Let us herald in a new way of being the age of kindness: Veganism.”
Her article called Crown of Creation says "Isn’t it way beyond the time that we stop eating animals? Stop trapping them? Stop putting them in cages? Stop confining them in dark warehouses, feedlots and barns? Stop breeding them as commodities? Stop slaughtering them by the billions every year world-wide? When someone says that if other people choose to eat animals, that is their choice –their business. Well with this recent coronavirus outbreak-the Chinese animal markets have become our business too. Anywhere where animals are being used and abused should become our business. Animal enslavement, exploitation, and abuse are happening everywhere in every country, on land and sea. It has formed the basis of our global economy since the first stock markets."
So let us take action today, one meal at a time, by choosing consciousness and compassion.
by Stacie Dooreck, author of SunLight Chair Yoga and Yoga for Everyone! books and Certified Yoga Instructor (since 1995) for Bay Area companies, Chair Yoga teacher trainings and online courses.
For further reading and information on this topic:
Stacie Dooreck is the author SunLight Chair Yoga: yoga for everyone !and Yoga for Everyone! books and ebook. Stacie is a Stress Management Specialist for the Ornish Heart Disease Reversal Program in N. CA and wellness instructor of companies. Stacie is a based in Marin/Bay Area CA and is a certified Sivanadna Yoga instructor since 1995, a Kundalini Yoga and Gentle Integral Yoga Certified instructor.