Most of us don’t really know much about where flu comes from. We hear that it starts in China and then somehow spreads itself around the world very quickly. Why doesn’t it start in Africa or South America or North America? What is so special about China that it is the world’s flu factory?
Flu is the common name for the influenza virus. It is caused by an RNA virus of the orthomyxoviridae family. It normally causes about half a million deaths each year but can mutate and become more deadly. There have been three major influenza pandemics in the last 100 years. The one in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people.
There are three basic types of influenza virus and only Type A usually infects birds and so it is called Bird Flu. If Type A mutates and takes on characteristics that make it infectious to humans it becomes more dangerous. Type B and C are different from Type and A and normally only infect humans.
The most dangerous influenza viruses start out as Type A and that is where east Asia comes in. Throughout east Asia people raise large numbers of domesticated chickens, ducks and geese in un-natural, unsanitary, crowded and stressful conditions in close proximity to humans. Due to the humidity and temperature the virus can exist for longer periods outside of the host and travel farther and spread more than it can in less humid or warm climates. Since humans in impoverished communities come into very close contact with the birds, they are exposed to the viruses on a continual basis and so the chance for the virus to mutate into one that can infect humans is much greater. Inevitably, new viruses are created by the continual process of evolution and when a mutation occurs that is infectious to humans it can spread rapidly.
A large percentage of the chicken eaten in western countries comes from east Asia. If Americans and Europeans ate less chicken it would proportionately reduce the risk from flu. The way to eliminate the flu would be for people to simply stop eating birds. If people didn’t eat them they wouldn’t be raised in such conditions and flu wouldn’t be a problem. That’s right, flu would almost cease to exist on a large scale if people simply stopped eating birds.
There is no nutritional requirement for humans to eat any animal and so there is no good reason for this permanent solution to not be put into effect. However, it is taboo to tell people what to eat, even if their dietary choices are cruel and destructive and needlessly cause the death of millions of innocent victims. If we are to survive as a species we have to overcome such taboos and to make better dietary choices and encourage others to make better dietary choices.
Just as people should stop eating birds they should also stop eating cows. Most rainforest destruction is now done to grow soy to feed to cows so they grow faster and can be turned into hamburgers quicker and at greater profit.
When compared to other species, humans are obvious herbivores. We don’t have claws or fangs, we sweat instead of pant. The strength of our stomach acid is much weaker than carnivores and our intestine length is much longer than carnivores. We are most closely related genetically to the great apes, who are vegetarians.
Going against nature in our dietary choices has resulted in massive environment destruction. We are literally eating our planet to death. Eating meat is the single greatest cause of disease, environmental destruction and world hunger. A plant based diet requires much fewer resources and prevents many diseases. If American’s ate just 10% less meat the savings in grain could feed all of the world’s hungry and millions of lives could be saved each year. While Americans are devouring their precious hamburgers over 6 million children die each year of starvation and poverty related disease.
Your eating choices have an impact on your health and the rest of the planet. Please choose wisely. Bill Phillips