Leading UK doctors call for end to factory farming to improve overall public health

Read Time:   |  13th May 2020

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Leading UK doctors are backing a plea from No Meat May for the public to stop eating meat if we are to prevent future global health disasters

With a record 33,000 people pledging to give up meat this May, with many citing public health concerns amid the coronavirus crisis, leading UK doctors are backing a plea from No Meat May for the public to stop eating meat if we are to prevent future global health disasters.

Public interest in meat-free diets is at an all-time high with many trying to limit their meat intake following reports that Covid-19 began in a wet market in Wuhan, whilst previous pandemics were also caused by our direct contact with animals – including Swine Flu (pigs), Avian Flu (birds), Spanish Flu (poultry).

To help people to open their eyes and make the connection between major disease outbreaks and animal agriculture, No Meat May has teamed up with leading plant-based doctors in the UK to highlight the looming threat of antibiotic resistance and how our relationship with both farmed and wild animals is causing global health crises.

Inconvenient truth

Plant Powered Doctor Dr Gemma Newman, a senior partner at a UK medical practice, suggests that one way in which we can help to avoid future pandemics is to adopt a plant-based diet and to leave meat off our shopping lists.

“Some politicians and commentators blame China for Covid-19, but they do not mention that all of the recent major disease outbreaks have been caused by tampering with animals and their habitats, or that our chicken salad and pepperoni pizza could be the next big health risk.

“The inconvenient truth is that factory farms put a strain on animal health, which means we treat them with antibiotics and small doses end up in your meal.

“Taking some time to reflect on what we eat, limiting the meat we put in our supermarket trolley and shifting to a more plant based diet will help us move towards a safer future.”

Go vegan to live longer

The current pandemic has seen those with underlying health conditions having a higher risk of requiring hospitalisation if they become infected with COVID-19, Doctor Shireen Kassam, a Consultant Haematologist and Director of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK is keen to promote the benefits of eating a plant-based diet to the public to improve overall public health.

Speaking about the importance of reducing the amount of meat we consume in favour of plant-based wholefoods, Kassam said: “There is an urgent need to reduce meat consumption globally for both human and planetary health.

“More than 90% of the meat we consume is produced in industrial scale factory farms, which provide the perfect conditions for the generation of novel infections with epidemic and pandemic potential.

“In addition, intensive farming of animals necessitates the widespread use of antibiotics, which has contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of antibiotic-resistant infections affecting humans.

“We have now entered an era where it is not uncommon for doctors to find themselves treating patients with bacterial infections for which there are no effective antibiotics.

“One of the many lessons we are learning from the current COVID-19 pandemic is that people with underlying health conditions have a higher risk of requiring hospitalisation, admission to the ICU and ultimately of dying. In the UK, almost 90% of people who have died from the infection have at least one underlying health condition.

“We should therefore look to ensure that we improve overall public health and minimise the potential for underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, by opting for a predominantly whole food plant-based diet.

“We have known for decades that a healthy plant-based diet, which minimises or eliminates meat, is associated with some of the lowest rates of chronic disease and a longer and healthier life.

“Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans help reduce inflammation in the body and promote a healthy immune system, both of which are essential aspects of fighting an infection such as COVID-19.”

For more information or to sign up to No Meat May in 2020, visit nomeatmay.net

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