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Paul McCartney and Brian May speak out against eating animals, as COVID-19 outbreak continues

By | Published on Wednesday 15 April 2020

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney has called on China to ban the sale of wild animals for food following the COVID-19 pandemic, while Brian May has said that the current public health crisis should prompt veganism to become more widely adopted.

It is widely believed, of course, that the virus that causes COVID-19 originated in bats sold as food in an exotic food market in the Chinese city of Wuhan (although there is now a theory that it was an anteater, bat fans).

Commenting on this, longtime animal rights campaigner McCartney tells USA Today: “I really hope that this will mean that the Chinese government … will say, ‘OK, guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here’. Let’s face it, come on, it is a little bit medieval, eating bats”.

Some have called for China’s so called “wet” markets to be banned entirely. Though given they are, in the main, just food markets, that’s somewhat unrealistic. But having more consistent regulations around the world regarding markets and food sales – and especially the consumption of wild animals – does seem like a good idea.

China introducing such new rules, McCartney says, is “a very good idea for them, not just us. They don’t need all of the people dying. And what’s it for? These quite medieval practices. They just need to clean up their act … This may lead to it. If this doesn’t, I don’t know what will”.

Brian May has gone a step further and suggested that the vegan diet should become more prominent in the wake of this situation. We’re not all eating bats, of course, but previous epidemics of swine flu and bird flu – the spread of which were halted through early intervention – also originated in and transferred to humans from animals bred for eating. The likelihood, therefore, that this will happen again is high.

Speaking to the NME, May says: “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”.

The guitarist himself, he adds, is only a recent convert to the vegan diet, saying: “I took up the vegan challenge in January and I’ve been three months a vegan now. To me it was an experiment, because for a long time I’d been an animal campaigner but grappled with the fact that I was still eating them occasionally”.

“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”, he goes on. “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”.

Simon Amstell’s 2017 film ‘Carnage’, set in a 2067 where veganism is the norm, has the turning point regarding humanity’s eating habits as a fictional 2021 ‘super swine flu’ epidemic. So, who knows? Might be a good time to re-watch that one though.