“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

In order to fix any problem and prevent it from happening again, we must first look at the cause. Our current pandemic did not just appear out of nowhere.

Like other zoonotic viruses — such as H1N1/Swine Flu (2009), H7N9/Bird Flu (2013), Ebola (2016), Cowpox and even Mad Cow disease, which is considered a “prion” — Covid-19 originated in a meat market. In this particular case, it is strongly suggested they were pangolins kept in horrid caged conditions to be sold as dinner in Asian markets. Conditions no different from how cows, pigs, turkeys, sheep, goats and chickens are exploited for food here in the U.S.

Although it’s easy to point our finger at China, at the end of the day we can take this opportunity to look in the mirror, look at our plates and realize we are all connected no matter what gender, sexual orientation, political party, nation or species. Let’s take responsibility for humanity’s disregard and exploitation of wild and domestic animals we share this planet with.

I like to think of it as Mother Earth sending us to our rooms to think about what we have done while giving us the opportunity and hope to change our behavior and actions. Not just as a country, as an entire world. She may even shake us up a little with an earthquake, fire, flood or hurricane.

As we are realizing, pandemics are world wide. Country and state lines don’t matter. What happens in one country deeply impacts ALL of us.

The repercussions of our desire to eat animals are being reflected through ill health, climate change and deadly pandemics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that three out of four new or emerging diseases in people come from animals.

Right now we are faced with two choices: Continue with a band-aid solution until another virus shows up or heal the wound from the inside through a healthy sustainable vegan lifestyle.

I have hope for all of us and our capacity to create a better world and right now is our chance! Even in the last few weeks, air and water pollution has dropped significantly in India, China, Italy and cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. Will this spark even more change in infrastructure and energy?

Coyotes are emerging in places such as San Francisco and here in Park City. Nature wants to balance out again. In some grocery stores we are now asked to use recycled boxes for groceries instead of paper or plastic bags. As humans, we have the capacity to create a much more compassionate and sustainable world for all just through behavior change.

Perhaps that is the opportunity in all of this. We are all in this together where I becomes us and me becomes we. Stay hopeful, healthy and let us listen and rise to the occasion.

“Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning.”

— Pope Francis

Lauren Lockey is the co founder of Sage Mountain which is a non profit and sanctuary for rescued farm animals.

Lauren Lockey is the co founder of Sage Mountain, Park City, a nonprofit sanctuary for rescued farm animals.