Can we prevent diseases from spreading if we adopt a vegetarian diet? 

Sarah Kirwan

1st year
Loreto College,Mullingar

Covid-19 has caused many deaths, nearly overwhelmed Europe’s healthcare system, crippled global trade and led to economic recession. In Ireland alone, there has been over 24,000 cases and 1500 deaths. This has happened because of meat consumption, which caused Covid-19 to spread to humans. This essay will argue that in order to stop the spread of diseases such as Covid-19, we all must adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet. Therefore, while vegetarianism is ethical due to animal welfare, it is also the right thing to do for human well-being. The essay will prove this by exploring farming practises, spread of disease and the ethical foundations of a vegetarian diet. 

There are several moral arguments against the consumption of meat. Firstly, vegetarians are against causing animals to suffer to make food when there are other alternatives available. Secondly, vegetarians believe that recreational hunting and killing is wrong and that killing animals for food is wrong when there are other sources of food. Thirdly, vegetarians are against harming the environment while making and producing food when there are other resources available. This essay will introduce another moral argument against meat consumption, which is that eating meat harms humans. 

Factory farming is the dominant farming method because it can meet meat consumption demands and it maximises profits. Factory farming is the practise of breeding and raising large numbers of animals in an unnatural and unfair way. It treats animals horribly in order to produce as many eggs, milk and meat as possible. Animals live in sheds, wire cages, metal crates and other inhumane, cramped places. These living conditions lead to the spread of diseases. 

Diseases can spread quickly from animals to humans. Covid-19 was first found in people who shopped at a wet market in the centre of Wuhan, where live animals are caged and later killed. Two other coronaviruses, SARS and MERS, have spread from animals to humans. In fact, 6 in 10 infectious diseases come from animals, these include some strains of the flu, Salmonella, West Nile virus, rabies, brucellosis and Lyme disease. These can have devastating effects, for example the 1918 flu pandemic killed more people than the first world war. 

Having examined the dangers of animal farming to human health, this essay will now reexamine the ethics of meat consumption. Utilitarianism requires that we do the action that produces the most good. Many people refuse to stop eating meat because they enjoy the 

taste of a burger or a steak, which makes them happy. However, adopting a vegetarian diet will stop the spread of diseases, which produces the most good. Farming produces a source of food, which is good. However, farming can also spread diseases, which causes harm to humans. Therefore, the bad things about meat consumption and farming outweighs the good. Virtue ethics states that we shouldn’t do anything a virtuous person wouldn’t do. Not eating meat is something a virtuous person would do because meat consumption leads to unnecessary pain and suffering for humans because of the spread of diseases. 

In conclusion, this essay has shown that meat consumption causes the spread of diseases to humans. These diseases cause illness and death. Hence, to live a moral life, we should not consume meat if there is a vegetarian alternative.