Reading Time: 2 minutes 'It's vital to identify and uproot the causes of infectious diseases' Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Many people do not recognize factory farming’s link to zoonotic diseases, according to a new study. 

Research led by the University of Kent found participants ‘blame’ the wild animal trade or lack of government preparation for epidemic outbreaks – not animal agriculture.

Zoonotic diseases

The study also showed those who are ‘highly committed’ to eating meat ‘struggle to acknowledge global meat consumption as a link to the problem’.

Moreover, even after being informed about the risks of factory farms in the spread of disease – meat-eaters were ‘still less convinced of policies to change or ban factory farming than of policies aimed at better preparing for pandemics’.

However, when reading similar information on wild animal markets – participants endorsed policies seeking to reduce, regulation or ban wild animal markets.

‘The detrimental role of intensive farming’

Dr. Kristof Dhont is the study’s lead researcher. In a statement sent to PBN, he said: “As world populations swell, our dependence upon meat is likely to grow, making it increasingly pressing to come to grips with the detrimental role of intensive farming and take action to turn the tide. 

“Undoubtedly, humankind needs to be better prepared to handle infectious disease outbreaks – which we are edging closer towards. 

“However, it is vital to identify and uproot the causes of infectious diseases.

“Meat is a highly enjoyable product for many, a factor inhibiting us from taking actions towards a safer future.”

Dr. Kristof Dhont, Researcher

“Appetite for meat can be a stumbling block for considering the role of animal agriculture in the spread of zoonotic disease. 

“Meat is a highly enjoyable product for many, a factor inhibiting us from taking actions towards a safer future. 

“Solutions to this problem will require policy changes and personal sacrifices, akin to dealing with the looming climate emergency.”

‘A cocktail for a deadly virus’

Factory farming has come under the spotlight for its zoonotic risk following the COVID-19 pandemic – receiving criticism from a slew of celebs, activists, and charities.

Moreover, renowned plant-based doctor Michael Greger says the practice ‘creates a cocktail for a deadly virus’.

Dr. Michael Greger has a background in infectious disease and is a recognized speaker on food safety and public health. He is also the author of Bird Flu: A Virus Of Our Own Hatching, which looks at infectious diseases and human’s role in them. 

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In a statement sent to PBN, he said: “If you want to create catastrophic pandemics, then build factory farms. 

“When you cram thousands of chronically stressed animals into crowded, filthy, indoor facilities… You create a cocktail for a deadly virus.

“COVID-19 has shown us how devastating an animal-born outbreak can be. But the best way for a Government to properly protect its people against future pandemics is to end factory farming.

“I urge the UK Government to take steps to do so immediately, and responsibly address this crisis waiting to happen.”

You can read the full study here

Liam Giliver

Liam is the former Deputy Editor of Plant Based News. He has written for The Independent, Huffington Post, Attitude Magazine, and more. He is also the author of 'We're Worried About Him'.