UK Doctors Urge Public to Go Vegan to Prevent Future Pandemics

Anna Starostinetskaya wrote . . . . . . . . .

This week, United Kingdom-based doctor Gemma Newman, MD—known as the “Plant Powered Doctor”—and non-profit organization Plant Based Health Professionals (PBHP) UK teamed up with campaign No Meat May to urge the public to go vegan in an effort to prevent future pandemics. While COVID-19 is thought to have originated in a wet animal market in Wuhan, China, the doctors point out that future zoonotic diseases could come from more traditional forms of animal agriculture. “Some politicians and commentators blame China for COVID-19, but they do not mention that all of the recent major disease outbreaks have been caused by tampering with animals and their habitats, or that our chicken salad and pepperoni pizza could be the next big health risk,” Newman said. “Our industrial scale factory farms are like a ticking time bomb—yet I can guarantee that lentils will not spark a viral pandemic anytime soon.”

PBHP UK Director Shireen Kassam, MD, a consultant haematologist, seconds Newman’s notion about viral infections and adds that factory farms are also contributing to doctors’ inability to treat patients with bacterial infections. “More than 90 percent of the meat we consume is produced in industrial scale factory farms, which provide the perfect conditions for the generation of novel infections with epidemic and pandemic potential,” Kassam said. “In addition, intensive farming of animals necessitates the widespread use of antibiotics, which has contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of antibiotic-resistant infections affecting humans. We have now entered an era where it is not uncommon for doctors to find themselves treating patients with bacterial infections for which there are no effective antibiotics.”

The doctors urge the public to participate in support programs such as No Meat May, which challenges participants to eliminate meat and other animal products from their diets for at least 31 days. This year, No Meat May saw a record number of 33,000 sign-ups—as compared to only 10,000 in 2019. “It’s hard to say what the COVID-19 effect is, but it’s clear that people are drawing the connection between intensive factory farms and public health concerns—as has been demonstrated by the record number of sign-ups to this year’s campaign,” No Meat May co-founder Ryan Alexander said.

No Meat May surveyed 2,500 of its 33,000 participants this year and found that 38 percent are opting to reduce their consumption of animal products due to concerns about the links between animal agriculture and diseases such as COVID-19. “There is more information about the meat industry causing diseases than ever before, and stronger links between the impacts on our health compared to a meat-free diet,” Hannah Bradshaw, a new No Meat May participant, said. “Although I have only given up meat at this stage and reduced my dairy intake, I will be continuing my journey after May with a view to going vegan in the future.”

Source: VegNews

Vegan Society Reveals that 1 in 5 Brits Have Reduced Meat Consumption Since Coronavirus

A survey conducted by The Vegan Society has found that 1 in 5 consumers in the UK have reduced their meat intake during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey also reveals that 15% are consuming less dairy and egg products since the lockdown period began.

The figures related to consumption of animal products in the UK follow shortly after the Financial Times report which reveals that the pandemic is accelerating a global shift to plantbased, as well as a market report which predicts that COVID 19 will cause the plantbased meat market to increase significantly.

The Vegan Society UK, whose founder Donald Watson first coined the term vegan in 1944, says that many of the one in five respondents who enjoyed the new alternatives they have tried during this period have committed to continue buying them in the future. Half of those who have tried vegan meat alternatives such as vegan burgers and sausages have said they will keep on purchasing them after the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Vegan Society states that, of those who have reduced their meat or dairy consumption, 41% did so due to their preferred product not being available on the supermarket shelves, however 43% chose to reduce their meat consumption out of concern for reasons of health, environmental or animal rights.

The data shows that UK consumers who stated they are reducing their meat and dairy consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic have been sampling alternatives that are new to them, with the most popular being almond milk (42%), meat alternatives such as vegan sausages and burgers (38%), soya milk (36%) and pulses such as lentils and chickpeas (34%).

Plant milks are also proving to be popular, with 54% and 42% of those who have tried soy milk and almond milk respectively saying they will make them a regular purchase once the lockdown has been lifted.

Matt Turner, spokesperson for The Vegan Society, said: “After the unprecedented success of Veganuary and the swathes of new vegan products hitting the shelves in recent months, it’s no surprise that many consumers have made the switch to plant-based alternatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that be for convenience, cost, or concern for their own wellbeing, the environment and the rights of animals.

Many Brits are trying these alternatives for the first time and enjoying them so much that they intend on keeping them in their shopping basket when we return to normal times. They are purchasing items that they wouldn’t have given a second look a few months ago, but are now seeing these brilliant vegan alternatives as the new normal.”

Source: Vegconomist

Formula 1 Team Helps Build New UK Breathing Aid for Covid-19 Patients

Ian Sample wrote . . . . . . . . .

A breathing aid that was designed and built in less than a week to keep Covid-19 patients out of intensive care has been delivered to London hospitals for clinical trials.

The device delivers a steady stream of oxygen and air to patients who are struggling to breathe and can be used on standard wards, unlike ventilation, which requires patients to have an invasive procedure and sedation in an intensive care unit.

Such continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, which are being used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China, bridge the gap between an oxygen mask and full ventilation. UK hospitals have the apparatus but it is in short supply.

Engineers from UCL and doctors at University College London hospital (UCLH) developed the device, which is claimed to be an improvement on existing Cpap systems, with Mercedes Formula One in less than 100 hours from first meeting to first production model. The device has been approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

“These devices will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill,” said Prof Mervyn Singer, a UCLH critical care consultant who worked on the design.

“While they will be tested at UCLH first, we hope they will make a real difference to hospitals across the UK by reducing demand on intensive care staff and beds, as well as helping patients recover without the need for more invasive ventilation.”

CPAP machines are used routinely in UK hospitals to support patients with breathing difficulties on wards or at home, but the equipment is in short supply. The devices use positive pressure to send a blend of air and oxygen into the mouth and hose at a steady rate, thereby boosting the amount of oxygen that enters the lungs.

The positive pressure means that when the patient breathes out, structures in the lung that exchange oxygen, the alveoli, stay open which aids oxygenation and makes breathing less effortful.

Tim Baker, an engineer on the UCL team, said: “Given the urgent need, we are thankful that we were able to reduce a process that could take years down to a matter of days.

“From being given the brief, we worked all hours of the day, disassembling and analysing an off-patent device. Using computer simulations, we improved the device further to create a state of the art version suited to mass production.”

Tim Cook, a professor of anaesthesia and intensive care medicine at the Royal United hospital Bath NHS foundation trust, said: “If the patient can stay on a Cpap machine they can stay on a ward looked after by specialised nurses rather than ICU nurses.

“A ward can probably look after 10 of these patients with two nurses and one doctor. Ten patients on ICU may need five or 10 nurses and three to four doctors. The cost and manpower needed on ICU is much, much greater, and ICU is a lot more complex and hazardous.”

Duncan Young, a professor of intensive care medicine at Oxford University, said the speed at which the device had been developed was “remarkable” but added that the use of Cpap machines in patients with contagious respiratory infections was controversial, as any small leaks around the mask could potentially spray droplets from patients’ airways on to clinical staff.

Singer said the risk of transmitting the virus through such droplets should be “very low” if care staff were wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

Source : The Guardian

‘Healthy’ Plant Based Meals in U.K. Restaurants Drowning in Salt

New research by Action on Salt (based at Queen Mary University of London and Bart’s Hospital) have exposed the shocking reality of many ‘healthy’ sounding plant based and vegan meals[1] being served at UK restaurants, fast food and coffee chains.

To mark Salt Awareness Week (9th-15th March 2020), the group of experts are urging the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock to implement more robust salt reduction targets – with proper enforcement – in order to create a fair and level playing field across both the retail AND eating out sectors.

Data from a recent public opinion poll to accompany the survey highlights one of the main reasons why people consume plant-based food is that they are perceived to be healthier[2]. However, this survey (the largest of its kind) of 290 plant-based and vegan meals collected from a total of 45 restaurant, takeaway, fast food and coffee chains, reveals the shocking truth about their salt and saturated fat content, and the dismal lack of nutritional information available. If food or drinks are high in saturated fat, salt or sugar (HFSS), they are not classified as ‘healthy’[3].

Restaurant Plant Based and Vegan Meals

A staggering three out of five plant-based restaurant meals surveyed with nutrition information (96/151) contain 3g or more salt – that’s half of an adult’s maximum daily intake of salt. Worse still, 19 of these provide 6g or more salt – that’s an adult’s ENTIRE maximum daily limit in just one meal!

Examples of Salty Meals:

  • Papa John’s Vegan American Hot Medium Pizza, 9.28g salt – more salt than 7 McDonald’s Hamburgers
  • Loch Fyne Spiced Roasted Cauliflower & Squash Goan Curry 8.65g salt – saltier than 19 anchovies
  • Bella Italia Vegan Cheese Pizza 8.1g salt – saltier than 23 bags of ready salted crisps
  • Chiquitos Vegarrito 7.89g salt
  • Slug and Lettuce Louisiana Chick’n Vegan Meat-less Burger 7.6g salt

If these restaurant chains were to display colour-coded nutrition information on their menus like packaged food in supermarkets, more than four out of five (127/151) plant-based meals would have a red label for high salt content (i.e. >1.8g salt in a meal)[7].

Interestingly, the variation in salt content of similar meals served at different restaurants is surprising and shows that salt isn’t needed for flavour – with some restaurants offering tasty dishes that have seven times less salt than their competitors, clearly demonstrating that these meals can easily be made with much less salt.

Fast Food & Coffee Chains Plant Based and Vegan Meals

A whopping two thirds of plant-based meals (82/128) available in fast food and coffee chains would get a red label for being high in salt (>1.8g salt per portion) – along with nearly two in five (29/128) meals containing 3g or more salt i.e. half of an adult’s maximum daily intake of salt.

Examples of Salty meals:

  • Wasabi Pumpkin Katsu Curry Yakisoba 10.3g salt – saltier than 8 McDonald’s Hamburgers
  • Wasabi Veg Tanmen Soup 9.7g salt –saltier than 21 anchovy fillets
  • EAT 3 Bean, Smoked Chili and Tomato 5g salt – saltier than 14 bags of ready salted crisps
  • Abokado THIS Vegan Katsu Curry (with sauce) 4.6g salt
  • Cojean Vegetable Gyoza Miso Soup 4.3g salt

Saturated Fat in Plant Based and Vegan Meals

AND it’s not just salty food being served up by UK restaurants, fast food and coffee chains – over half of all restaurant meals surveyed would qualify for a red label (>6g/portion) for saturated fat, and more than one in five dishes provide more than half of an adult’s maximum daily intake for saturated fat[8]. One of the worst offenders is Harvester’s The Purist Burger (served with triple cooked chips), containing 54.2g saturated fat in a meal, nearly 3 times a woman’s maximum daily intake!

Salt Targets

Public Health England’s 2017 salt reduction targets include targets for the eating out sector and are intended to guide salt reduction in the meals we eat in restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets[9]. However, of all the meals surveyed, only half (56%) have a salt reduction target in place, and of those, only 53 (32%) have failed, despite the high levels of salt reported in many of these dishes. This clearly demonstrates that the targets not comprehensive, ambitious or fit for purpose. The Government announced their commitment to reducing salt in their Prevention Green Paper last year, and are currently negotiating new targets for the food industry to achieve by 2023. The Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock must now be brave and bring these out of home targets in line with the rest of the food industry, with clear consistent monitoring across the whole industry.

When asked if they would support government taking action to ensure that the out of home sector reduces salt levels in their dishes and is transparent about the nutritional content of their meals on menus, 73% of the public said yes2.

Source: Action on Salt

Read also:

Salt content of vegan and plant-based meals served in the out of home sector . . . . .

Vegan Chocolate Easter Egg

A vegan creme egg called The Chuckie Egg (a Cadbury Creme Egg-style Easter treat), made by UK based chocolatier, Mummy Meagz, is selling out in stores all around the UK in the approach to Easter.

Meagan Boyle, co-founder of Mummy Meagz, says: “We’re delighted that the UK loves our Chuckie Eggs as much as we do, and that someone is enjoying one of our delicious creations every half a minute. With more than 600,000 people now following a plant-based diet in the UK, demand for products that give vegans what they really want will continue to grow. They also help to pique interest in veganism and cast aside a few outdated assumptions, especially that vegan food doesn’t taste good!”

Meagan continues: “Our kitchen team has been busy keeping up with demand, because I’m adamant that no one should miss out on the sweet things in life. This is exactly why I came up with the Chuckie Egg recipe: it’s free of nuts, dairy, gluten and animal products, meaning it can be enjoyed by almost anyone.”

Source: Vegconomist