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Go veggie to check SARS, says PETA

Animal rights activists here have come out with what they call a simple solution to combat the deadly SARS disease - go vegetarian.

india Updated: May 19, 2003 19:40 IST

Animal rights activists here have come out with what they call a simple solution to combat the deadly SARS disease - go vegetarian.

Activists of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), led by a member wearing a pig costume and a mask reading "No SARS - Go Veg", Monday distributed SARS masks with the message "Say no to Pig-Farm Germs" in this city's commercial hub of Connaught Place.

PETA said the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic that is causing chaos in China and a number of Southeast Asian countries had originated in a pig farm.

SARS has claimed 613 lives worldwide, mostly in mainland China and Hong Kong. "What you touch and inhale may be important, but what you pick up with your fork is even more crucial," PETA said in a statement distributed along with the masks.

"Like all globe-sweeping flus, the latest killer germ was created on a factory farm in southern China. Intensively confining animals creates filth that allows diseases to spread like wildfire.

"In India, chickens on factory farms commonly carry listeria, salmonella, leukosis (chicken cancer), campylobacter and E. coli bacteria, all of which are transmissible to humans. As people in Asia eat more meat, they put the rest of the world at risk. In the West, hundreds of thousands more people go vegetarian every year," PETA said in a statement, terming the veggie trend "highly healthy".

It claimed: "SARS isn't the only problem created by eating flesh: meat-eaters are nine times as likely to be overweight as vegans (people who consume no animal products whatsoever) and 10 times more likely to suffer from heart disease.

"Although vegetarianism remains popular in India, as more people eat meat, diseases that have been linked to meat consumption, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, are occurring more often," it added.

According to the statement, during the past 30 years, coronary artery disease in most developed countries came down by 50 percent but doubled in India.

"Adding to this problem is the high incidence of rheumatic heart disease in India. With at least 50,000 new cases every year, it is estimated that currently there are more than one million patients with rheumatic heart disease," PETA said.

"Vegans live, on average, at least seven years longer than meat-eaters," it claimed.
"The battle against SARS and other diseases begins on our dinner plates," the statement quoted PETA chief Anuradha Sawhney as saying.

"No more meat means no more outbreaks of diseases spread by farmed animals, whether from germs or from the cholesterol and fat in their flesh."

First Published: May 19, 2003 19:40 IST