Our Diet Until Today, Corona Virus, & Influenza

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Featured, Health & Nutrition, Social Impact, Uncategorized

With the arrival of the seasonal Influenza in the Winter, we put on a mask, wash our hands or use mouth rinse, and take any measure we can to prevent getting the disease. But actually, this seasonal Influenza, as well as the current Corona Virus outbreak which is wreaking havoc all over the world, has everything to do with our daily diets.Plant-based? Vegan? Vegetarian? WFPB? 

The clear connection between the Corona Virus and animals 

In 2003, the SARS virus (a species of corona virus) threw the world in chaos. By now we know that the current COVID-19 virus is genetically similar to a species of coronavirus, that is easily contracted by bats, and that the SARS virus was similarly the result of a mutation of the original coronavirus gene that was passed from animals to humans. As I’m neither a scientist nor an epidemiologist, I will refrain from further explanation here, but the point I’d like to stress here is ‘What do bats have to do with diseases for humans?’ Yes, in some areas of our world bats can come in contact with humans as part of daily life. For example, when I went on holiday to Sri Lanka, I was surprised to see many bats electrified to death on power cables; but the locals kept telling me I had no reason to worry and that this was a very normal thing to see.

Why, then, would viruses originating from bats invade our world in both 2003 and 2020?

Hint: The 2020 COVID-19 (new Corona virus)

As you may know, and as has been communicated profusely all over the news, the recent spread of the new Corona virus originated from bats. Furthermore, before it reached humans, it mutated and spread to pigs, civet cats, and other small animals before finally moving on to us. It has been reported by media and experts that the virus was originally transmitted to humans in a wildlife market in Wuhan city, where humans and animals came in close contact in a high density area in unsanitary conditions. In the Wuhan wildlife market, animals like pigs, civet cats, and ant-eaters are sold for human consumption. Here you see; There is a connection between bats and our diets after all.        

Our annual nemesis – Influenza – is no different

If you think ‘since the corona virus is a once-every-few-years thing, we just need to survive this year and it’ll be ok’, please think again. Every year, in the same way as the corona virus, new strains of Influenza break out that are immune to our vaccines and that originate in animals. Mainly chicken, pigs, and other livestock species. That’s right, the same Influenza that we diligently get vaccines, wash our hands, and rinse our mouths to prevent. To put it bluntly, if we didn’t mass-produce meat, the risk of these viruses wouldn’t exist. I can try to provide a scientific explanation here as well, but I rather recommend that you pick up a copy of George Diamond’s fascinating Guns, Germs and Steel (which has nothing to do with a plant-based diet). This book explains tens of thousands of years of human history, of which it touches on how the mass production of meat has repeatedly afflicted human kind. This really is the extent of the impact that mass production of meat has on our lives. Influenza is just one example of this impact. Pretty terrifying, huh?   

A Plant-based lifestyle

By the way, when I first switched my diet to plant-based, I had no idea of everything explained above. I didn’t really care. Why would our immune system and viruses have anything to do with what was on our dinner table? But the more I found out, the more I thought ‘despite all this, do we really still need to eat meat?’ Year after year, as I learned even more of the effects of eating meat in today’s world, I became more convinced that there’s no good reason to keep eating meat. And yes, it’s sad that people end up getting influenza because of it; hence I am writing about it in case you (like my former self) didn’t have any idea about this connection.

Anyways, doesn’t hurt to start now! Take a look at some recipes to keep you energized, and have a go at some plant-based food.

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Noriko Shindo

What started as a curious experiment to opt for a completely plant-based diet consequently turned into a new and exciting lifestyle! Since my transition, I have been primarily interested in 2 things: to increase awareness on the plant-based lifestyle, and to help as many plant-based people in Japan sustain their plant-based lifestyle by providing useful information. I believe that a plant-based life is for everyone: you can do a meat-free Monday and still call yourself plant-based. Even if you still occasionally put some parmesan on your pasta, go ahead – declare you live a plant-based lifestyle. The point I’m trying to make is, plant-based, it is just another way of life.

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