Whilst many pandemics and epidemics are caused by the transfer of disease from animals to humans, this is by no means always the result of animal consumption.
Malaria and yellow fever, for example, are transferred through mosquito bites, while cholera – which kills up to 143,000 people a year, according to the World Health Organisation – is transmitted via contaminated food and water.
Dr W. Meier-Augenstein, FRSC, pointed this out in a reply to Moby’s tweet.
“Not eating meat of any animal does not guarantee protection from getting infected by animals. One can get infected by bite (rabies), wet aerosols / saliva (MERS-CoV) or dust aerosols / droppings (Ebola) to name but three examples,” he wrote.
@RayRosaR38 @thelittleidiot Not eating meat of any animal does not guarantee protection from getting infected by an… https://t.co/SSJFc8qofk
— Dr. W. Meier-Augenstein, FRSC (@Dr. W. Meier-Augenstein, FRSC)
Another health expert, Dr Jonathan Kolby, commented: ‘When land is converted for agriculture, animals are flushed out of their natural habitats and come into contact with people living and working in these areas more often.
“In a #veganforlife world you still have pandemics. They can also come from pets.”
@thelittleidiot When land is converted for agriculture, animals are flushed out of their natural habitats & come in… https://t.co/4fMZPNUl41
— Dr. Jonathan Kolby (@Dr. Jonathan Kolby)
Other users mocked the hitmaker for the post, with one asking: “Do you think that the Black Death was caused by people *eating* fleas?”
Meanwhile, others attempted to defend the 55-year-old by suggesting he was on the right track.
One responded: “He’s not talking about ‘a diet’ eliminating viruses directly, but about the grossly unsanitary conditions of mass animal agriculture - required to maintain meat diets - causing viruses in the first place. Covid would not have the opportunity to emerge & jump to humans otherwise.”
Another followed a similar train of thought, writing: “[Pandemics] would be much less likely and frequent. Far less interactions between people and farm animals (bc they wouldnt exist), and far less conditions where animals are packed into extremely close quarters.”
@pjputh @thelittleidiot He's not talking about "a diet" eliminating viruses directly, but about the grossly unsanit… https://t.co/1UxFj9au4b
— Honus Wagner Pokémon Card 🪐 (@Honus Wagner Pokémon Card 🪐)
Naturalist Chris Packham is among the high profile figures to have urged people to adopt a vegan diet to help combat climate change and reduce the risk of another possible pandemic.
He told The Observer last year: “This virus leapt from animals into us as Sars, Ebola and HIV did – all because we were abusing the natural environment and the animals that live there,” he told the Observer.
“So nature has taught us a very harsh and cold lesson. If we don’t start understanding that we are all connected implicitly to nature, and that what we eat impacts on nature, we’re in deep trouble.
“That’s why the environmental aspect of veganism or vegetarianism – or anyone changing their diet – has come to the forefront.”