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Humanity is facing an existential crisis unless we change our food systems, according to Jane Goodall.

The prolific primatologist made the comments earlier this week while speaking at an online event hosted by advocacy organization Compassion in World Farming.

During the event, Goodall said the coronavirus outbreak – which is widely believed to have originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China, towards the end of 2019 – is a result of human disrespect for animals – both wild and farmed.

‘We are finished’

As reported by the Guardian, Goodall said: “We have brought this on ourselves because of our absolute disrespect for animals and the environment. Our disrespect for wild animals and our disrespect for farmed animals has created this situation where disease can spill over to infect human beings.”

Speaking about the need to move away from factory farming, and its links to habitat destruction, antibiotic resistance, and the climate crisis, she added: “If we do not do things differently, we are finished. We can’t go on very much longer like this…We have come to a turning point in our relationship with the natural world.

“One of the lessons learnt from this crisis is that we must change our ways. Scientists warn that to avoid future crises, we must drastically change our diets and move to plant-rich foods. For the sake of the animals, planet, and the health of our children.”

‘A dress rehearsal’

Goodall is not alone in her thinking: eminent plant-based doctor Dr. Michael Greger recently warned that the COVID-19 pandemic may just be a ‘dress rehearsal for the coming plague’ unless we change the way we farm birds.

Dr. Greger, who recently published How To Survive A Pandemic*, said many infectious diseases including tuberculosis, measles, AIDS, and COVID-19 ‘share a common origin story: human interaction with animals’. So when it comes to limiting the risk of H5N1, Dr. Greger’s proposals including changing the farm system.

He believes we should move away from factory farms, where stressed chickens are kept in cramped, dirty conditions, and fed antibiotics to smaller free-range operations, and then stop eating birds completely.

He said: “The pandemic cycle could theoretically be broken for good. Bird flu could be grounded…[but] as long as there is poultry, there will be pandemics. In the end, it may be us or them.”

*How To Survive A Pandemic is available on Kindle and in audiobook format, and in paperback from August 20.

Klaus Mitchell

Founder and Director at Plant Based News.