First, a 2015 TED talk by Bill Gates:
Even more to the point appears to be this 2008 talk by Dr. Michael Greger, Director, Public Health and Animal Agriculture of The Humane Society of the United States, and the founder of nutritionfacts.org:
Scientists still aren’t quite certain what caused the current virus outbreak. Chinese wet markets are most commonly blamed, but alternative scientific (not conspiratorial) theories have also been proposed by credible scientists.
Instead of the wet market, it could simply have been a Chinese farmer who started all this, knee-deep in bat guano, which is used by Chinese farmers to fertilize their fields. I used to think that the following couple of quotes by Karl May were funny, but after 2020, no longer:
Ein anderer wäre in diesem Falle verloren gewesen; ich aber besaß noch eine ganze Fackel und traute mir zu, in den Exkrementen der Fledermäuse meine Spur und durch dieselbe den Weg ins Freie zu finden. Das beruhigte mich.
A fringe theory claims that the virus could have originated in and accidentally escaped from a Chinese lab. Those who do not discount this possibility include Dr. Richard Ebright of Rutgers University and, apparently, also Dr. Soňa Peková of Prague. As to whether she is a credible scientist or not, opinions among her colleagues appear to differ widely, with some condemning her sharply as a charlatan.
Be that as it may, based on Dr. Greger’s talk, the root cause of current events appears to be the man’s being a beast, not a human, towards beasts.
The conclusion seems inescapable: we’re reaping, health-wise, not so much what we sow as we eat.
It’s not just the Chinese with their bizarre and cruel food choices: as Dr. Greger claims, all viral diseases in history (the entire range from the benign flu to the deadliest coronavirus) can be traced back to the humans’ insatiable appetites – for meat or money (via factory farming).
This means that ultimately all of us humans are guilty, because we (apart from a few animal rights activists) take the status quo for granted.
(Or there may, typically, be complete ignorance of or lack of interest in even thinking about the current state of affairs regarding our treatment of animals.)
Now, I’m no vegetarian or vegan (as yet), as my no. 1 favourite writer, Leo Tolstoy, would desire me to be. But I at least try to minimize my meat intake.
Perhaps that is not enough and I, too, am among the negligent ones – too lazy to be disturbed in my current ways, unwilling to be ruffled in my wonted comfort.
If everyone around the world minimized (if not eliminated) their meat/animal-produce intake, would that be enough to banish, from this planet, the deplorable conditions of factory farming exposed in Dr. Greger’s talk?
Maybe yes, and maybe no. The current pandemic should, I think, at least give all of us a pause: at least prompt us to make an (at first) ever-so-slight turn to move in a better direction, even if the ultimate ideal (zero consumption of animal produce) may not be desirable or attainable (on an individual or civilizational level).
What else, after all, is every disease, other than a (sometimes rough, but typically gentle) prompting from nature asking us – on an individual or collective level – to change our ways?