The planet is in a global health emergency exacting enormous medical and economic tolls. It is imperative for us as a society and species to focus and reflect deeply upon what this and other related human health crises are telling us about our role in these increasingly frequent events and about what we can do to prevent them in the future.

Cause: It is human behavior that is responsible for the vast majority of zoonotic diseases that jump the species barrier from animals to humans: (1) hunting, capture, and sale of wild animals for human consumption, particularly in live-animal markets; (2) massive overcrowding of animals for human consumption in stressful and unhygienic industrial “factory farm” environments; (3) large-scale close confinement of animals for human consumption, a major direct cause of mounting antibiotic resistance; (4) vast numbers of wildlife species threatened with extinction from habitat incursion and destruction.

Action: Intensive confinement of animals in factory farm operations should be discontinued worldwide for the sake of animals, humans, and the environment, and we should rapidly evolve to eating other forms of protein that are safer for humans, including plant-based meat alternatives and meat produced by culturing animal cells. Additional investment in plant-based agriculture to grow crops to feed humans rather than livestock for human consumption will feed more people while utilizing far less land and water, allowing for the preservation of vital ecosystems for innumerable species.

Rather than simply attempting to react to crises like COVID-19 after death and destruction are already upon us, we need to address the fundamental underlying causes and act now to prevent the numerous disasters that are literally waiting to happen.

Author Biography

David O. Wiebers, M.D. is Emeritus Professor of Neurology and Consultant Emeritus in Neurology and Health Sciences Research/Epidemiology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The author of more than 360 scientific publications, 6 medical textbooks and 3 books for the general public, Professor Wiebers is the recipient of 22 international and 55 U.S. awards for scientific and medical achievement. Website

Valery L. Feigin, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor of Neurology and Epidemiolgy and Director of AUT’s National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neuroscience, dedicated to studying the epidemiology and prevention of neurological disorders. The author of more than 370 journal articles, 12 handbooks, and 26 books, Professor Feigin is the recipient of a number of national and international awards and distinctions and Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Neuroepidemiology. Website





Article Thread

Wiebers, David and Feigin, Valery (2020) What the COVID-19 crisis is telling humanity. Animal Sentience 30(1)

Cao, Deborah (2020) Global risks of intensive animal farming and the wildlife trade. Animal Sentience 30(2)

Eshel, Gidon (2020) Pandemic leadership failures and public health. Animal Sentience 30(3)

Greger, Michael (2020) Whenever possible, treat the cause: Shut down the flu factories. Animal Sentience 30(4)

Anomaly, Jonathan (2020) Cultured meat could prevent the next pandemic. Animal Sentience 30(5)

Fox, Michael W. (2020) One planet, one health. Animal Sentience 30(6)

Broom, Donald M (2020) The necessity of human attitude change and methods of avoiding pandemics. Animal Sentience 30(7)

Schuck-Paim, Cynthia (2020) Intensive animal farming conditions are a major threat to global health. Animal Sentience 30(8)

Fawcett, Anne (2020) One Welfare, the role of health professionals, and climate change. Animal Sentience 30(9)

Lovell, Jarret S. (2020) Plant-based diets and COVID-19: Those who harvest crops are at high risk. Animal Sentience 30(10)

Bryant, Christopher J. (2020) Innovation in meat production: a problem and an opportunity. Animal Sentience 30(12)

Feigin, Svetlana (2020) It does not cost the earth to be kind. Animal Sentience 30(13)

Morand, Serge (2020) New approach to health and the environment to avoid future pandemics. Animal Sentience 30(14)

Wyatt, Tanya (2020) Harm, Earth Jurisprudence and human/nonhuman relationships. Animal Sentience 30(15)

Robbins, Jesse (2020) Be wary of simple solutions to complex problems. Animal Sentience 30(16)

Marcum, James A (2020) Can we handle the truth of what COVID-19 is telling us?. Animal Sentience 30(17)

Skerratt, Lee (2020) Wildlife health systems. Animal Sentience 30(18)

Kona-Boun, Jean-Jacques (2020) Anthropogenic suffering of farmed animals: the other side of zoonoses. Animal Sentience 30(20)

Toates, Frederick (2020) Covid-19, evolution, brains and psychology. Animal Sentience 30(21)

Bergstrom, Bradley J. (2020) Re-engage with the world for global health and animal welfare. Animal Sentience 30(22)

Davis, Tyler; Ireland, Molly E; Van Allen, Jason; and Worthy, Darrell A (2020) Zoonotic realism, computational cognitive science and pandemic prevention. Animal Sentience 30(23)

Gerlai, Robert (2020) Tribal brains in the global village: Deeper roots of the pandemic. Animal Sentience 30(24)

Wehbe, Yzar S. and Shackelford, Todd K. (2020) Appealing to human intuitions to reduce animal abuse. Animal Sentience 30(25)

Hawkins, Ronnie Z. (2020) Thinking longer, looking deeper. Animal Sentience 30(26)

Urbanik, Julie (2020) Reinforcing boundaries does not contribute to change. Animal Sentience 30(27)

Marazziti, Donatella (2020) Reflections on psychological and psychiatric consequences of COVID-19 pandemic. Animal Sentience 30(28)

Figueroa, Daniela and Duprat, Ximena (2020) Remedying anthropogenic zoonoses. Animal Sentience 30(29)

Wiebers, David and Feigin, Valery (2021) Heeding the call of COVID-19. Animal Sentience 30(30)