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Brian May says we should be ‘thinking about whether we eat animals’ in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus, which is understood to have originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China in December 2019, has gone on to kill more than 126,000 people at the time of writing.

The disease spreading from animals to humans has prompted people to look at how farming conditions around the world – and the crammed, stressful, filthy conditions many animals are kept in – are conducive to these types of illnesses spreading.

People eating animals

Speaking to NME, May, who went vegan after taking part in this year’s Veganuary, said: “If you want to get deep into it, I think we should be looking again at whether we should be eating animals.

“That’s a central issue here, this pandemic seemed to come from people eating animals and it’s becoming more well known that eating animals is not the greatest thing for our health.”

He added: “But to go vegan was just a decision, and I haven’t been preachy about it, but now we’ve seen more of the effects of how eating animals has brought us to our knees as a species, I think it’s time to re-examine our world in a way that doesn’t abuse other species.

“Whether we will see that happen, I don’t know, but I think I will start to be a bit more preachy about veganism because to me it is the way forward, in so many ways.”

‘Significant co-factor’

Gregory Gray, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Duke University in North Carolina has described eating animals as a ‘significant cofactor’ in the genesis of new human diseases.

Speaking to Popular Science, Gray said ‘we would probably have less contact with animals that we’re either growing or ceasing to capture from the wild for food’ if we stopped eating animals. This reduction in contact would reduce the opportunity for transmission.

However, going vegan would not stop the transmission of every single zoonotic disease, according to Gray, as ‘we would still have contact with animals that may harbor pathogens that are foreign to the human immune system’.