'We can protect the planet and prevent future pandemics if we change our diets'
A change to our diets could go some way towards tackling the two biggest global threats we are currently facing – a global pandemic and a catastrophic climate breakdown
Veganuary, the global non-profit organisation that encourages people to go vegan for the month of January and beyond, has teamed up with politicians, celebrities, campaigners and businesses to urge more people than ever to give veganism a go.
In an open letter, Veganuary has written how 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic and the continuing climate crisis, has basically been a wake up call for everyone to step up and fight climate change.
“We are urging everyone to make 2021 the year for positive change and help protect the planet and prevent future pandemics by trying vegan this January,” it wrote.
The open letter addresses the tough year we’ve all had, explaining how both the pandemic and climate crisis are linked to our consumption of animal products.
Pandemic experts have warned, for example, that the overcrowded, squalid conditions of many factory farms, especially chickens, are “breeding grounds for the next global pandemic”.
The letter added that, despite their severity, climate breakdowns and global pandemics are not inevitable and can be prevented if we take the right actions.
With the support of a huge number of politicians, celebrities and campaigners, Veganuary is encouraging everyone to do their bit by signing up to go vegan in January and hopefully beyond.
Signatories included MPs Caroline Lucas, Kerry McCarthy, Henry Smith, Jonathan Bartley and Christina Rees, as well as Baroness Jenny Jones.
There’s also a number of celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Sara Pascoe, Bryan Adams, John Bishop, Ricky Gervais and Evanna Lynch and businesses or organisations like Made With Luve and Centre For A Responsible Future.
Below is the Veganuary open letter in full.
2021 IS THE YEAR FOR POSITIVE CHANGE – TOGETHER WE CAN BUILD A BETTER FUTURE
2020 has been an unforgettable year, with our attention divided between fears over coronavirus and anxiety over climate change. What has become increasingly obvious is that these two threats have something in common; both are heavily linked to our consumption of animal products.
Animal agriculture is responsible for an estimated 14.5 percent of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Oxford University researchers found that almost every animal product creates far more emissions than almost every plant product. Quite simply, we cannot tackle climate change while we farm and eat animals on an industrial scale.
Pandemic experts warn that because of overcrowded, squalid conditions, factory farms – especially chicken farms – are breeding grounds for the next global pandemic. Already these farms have given us H1N1 (swine flu) and H5N1 (avian flu), the latter having a 60 percent mortality rate.
More than one billion tonnes of food must be grown to feed the billions of animals we farm – far more than is needed if people were to eat plants. That farmland has to come from somewhere, and all too often it is taken from the wild.
In recent years, more than 80 percent of deforestation in Brazil was to graze farmed animals, and still more forests are destroyed to make way to grow crops to feed animals on farms around the world. Deforestation is serious for lots of reasons. It pushes wild species to extinction. It displaces indigenous peoples. It drives climate change. And it brings us in ever closer contact with wild animals and any viruses they may harbour, raising the risk of another pandemic.
Catastrophic climate breakdown and global pandemics could not be more serious, but they are not inevitable. If we act now, the future can be better. So, let’s go into 2021 with positivity and a determination to do all we can to protect our planet, its wild spaces and the health and wellbeing of all its inhabitants. To do that, we must change our diets.
Today, we are urging everyone to help build a better future by signing up to try vegan this January with Veganuary. Together, we can create a world that is kinder and safer for all.
To try Veganuary this month you can sign up here and get loads of free recipes to try.
Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.
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