Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint

Ever since the Covid-19 outbreak, people across the world have sought to link the coronavirus to non-vegetarian diets. Queen guitarist Brian May said this pandemic came from “people eating animals”. In India, Haryana health minister Anil Vij urged people to become vegetarian. AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria has clarified that non-vegetarian food doesn’t cause the infection.

ThePrint asks: Will more people turn to vegetarianism in a post-coronavirus world?

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Indians think vegetarianism is a virtue rather than a life choice. Well, it doesn’t matter to the coronavirus

Neera Majumdar
Senior copy editor, ThePrint

If you want to stop eating non-vegetarian food, do it for the right reasons — you want to do your bit to fight climate change, you care about animals, you care about your health indicators. Don’t do it because it’s the only lesson you took away from the coronavirus crisis.

As soon as the first few people tested positive for Covid-19 in India, #NoMeatNoCoronavirus started trending on Twitter. Indians commented about how the virus was the ‘wrath of god’ for eating meat, how it was a ‘punishment’ for meat-eating China. Rumours started doing the rounds on how vegetarians don’t get infected. A post on social media went viral (the irony) that claimed the WHO has said no vegetarian in the world has been infected by coronavirus. It was fake news of course, but it pointed to one truth — Indians see vegetarianism more as a good virtue rather than a life choice. Meat is associated with impurity, pollution, certain religions and of course, paap.

The coronavirus outbreak started in China because of unhygienic conditions, illegal wildlife trading and packed markets. It could have started anywhere in the world. Eating poultry or not eating it, will not save you. Eating right, eating clean, will.


Coronavirus or not, turning vegetarian is good. It is economical, environment-friendly and against animal cruelty

Unnati Sharma
Journalist, ThePrint

Coronavirus will change a lot of things. Once the pandemic is over, nothing is going to be the same, including our food habits. Scientists say it is likely that the coronavirus came from bats. Although food safety experts have clarified that the coronavirus is not caused by eating meat, the way this virus has shaken our world, it is not easy to convince people.

The virus has already given rise to social stigmatisation to an extent that RWAs are turning into a nightmare and doctors are being attacked. Now when there are reports and conversations around how wet markets in China’s Wuhan and bats are possibly responsible for all the mess, it is likely that a lot of people would turn their back on meat. Remember how quickly the world adapted to ‘Namaste’ instead of shaking hands.

Personally, coronavirus or no coronavirus, I believe that turning vegetarian is a good practice. Vegetarianism is economical, environment-friendly and against cruelty to animals. Think about all the use of antibiotics in animals and making them prey to fulfill our food needs while breaking away the food chain. Even if people do not turn vegetarians to save the lives of the animals, I think this pandemic could be a beginning towards that path since it affects our lives.


Perception that coronavirus originated from animals is likely to affect diet choices in the post-pandemic world

Kritika Sharma
Special Correspondent

Whenever the world comes out of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, one thing is for sure — people’s attitude towards many things will change and one of them will be food. Among the several theories about the coronavirus that spreads the Covid-19 disease, the most agreed upon by scientists across the world is that pangolins served as the “intermediate host” andpassed on the virus from bats to humans. The origin lies in China’s wet markets in Wuhan that sell all kinds of exotic animals for consumption.

Whether the virus actually originated in Wuhan wet markets or not, this theory is sure to have an impact on the way people eat. This is bound to make people more careful and move towards a vegetarian diet. However, chances of people turning vegetarian are still far-fetched, specially in India.

Besides, diseases like Swine Flu that have caused a threat to the existence of humankind in the past also originated from animals, which gives more weight to the argument that people might turn vegetarian in a post-coronavirus world. Having said that, there is no direct connection to being a meat eater and getting any disease, it’s all about perception at the end of the day.


The myth that meat-eaters have caused coronavirus is nothing but vegetarians taking a moral high ground

Kairvy Grewal
Journalist, ThePrint

I don’t think that the coronavirus outbreak is going to change my meat-eating habits. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder. One of the first things I’m going to do when this crisisis over is devour those hot chicken wings from Nando’s.

At the same time, I will be slightly more cautious about the quality of restaurants I dine at. I imagine it will take other meat-eaters some more time to finally trust that roadside kebab again. However, my hesitation will not be able to keep me away from meat for long.

Sentiments aside, there have been no studies so far that conclusively prove that eating meat is responsible for the outbreak of coronavirus. Indulging in the myth of meat-eaters causing coronavirus is the classic moral high ground vegetarians like to take. I believe that these myths and rumours are just getting started. Just like the number of cases of xenophobia increasingwith the number of coronavirus cases across the globe.

Giving into rumours to hold a seemingly unrelated habit accountable for a global pandemic should merely be seen as a futile attempt at making sense of things during unprecedented times.


Also read: In coronavirus crisis, are RWAs helping or becoming vigilantes?


By Pia Krishnankutty, journalist at ThePrint

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Just imagine yourselves in the position of an animal raised in a crowded farm about to be butchered and its pain. I can and I shudder everytime thinking of the trauma and pain they go through. Definitely not taking any high ground but surely believe that empathy makes us human. If we cannot empathize with animals, even if we do empathize with fellow human beings, its just a pretence.

  2. Veg or nonVeg.The Question lies what is better. Forget covid 19 & look at other perceptions.Climate change main cause Animal killings, livestock,Cruelty,Unhygienic eating nonveg. As we humans after death are burned or put inside an grave within 12 To 24 hrs of Death.How than Animals killed can be eaten even after 2to4 days of killing.Cold storage was never an fully hygienic solution.
    In India & other countries, people buy nonveg foods even though they are not stored in cold storage.Think about the millions of bacteria and viruses you invite by eating such products.
    Just Think,when our own beloved person is put in Graves or burnt within 12to14 hrs due to bacteria,Diseases,infections,viruses etc reaching the dead body.,The same applies with Animals it is logical nonveg is not good.we humans are not made to eat nonveg,Just draw your sense & Think.It is mostly said a nonveg eater gets fat & builts muscle,but even the dead body gets fat if not burned or put in the grave.It is the bacteria,disease which gets you fat & help you reduce your Immunity.hope we understand.

  3. Occasionally, these days receives post in social media by animal rights group pushing their agenda. Holier than thou attitude will not only go unnoticed, but some people may embrace it. Humans are omnivores – those who go vegan are in fact far more likely to wind up with actual malnutrition issues. They are nothing but loonies with protein deficiency. It scares me they can force their thinking on their kids below three years of age. It can hinder their mental development for life! You can’t magically wish away millions of years of evolution. God gave us molars to eat meat. Just keeping Him happy. I did not climb to the top of the food chain to eat carrots!!!!! Besides if we’re not supposed to eat animals,,, then WHY are they made out of Meat???

    • People should make their own research about all this. The point is not about eating or not… it’s about the intensive farming, about how the millions of animals are treated and killed for you to go with your credit card to the supermarket and spend as less pennies as possible for a tasty piece of flesh. People is free to eat whatever they want, but one should be aware of what they and where is coming from.
      Apart from that it’s also very exciting for people to go and buy nice leather boots, or leather goods… at a bargain prices. Did they ask where this leather is coming from and how it is processed And the people that’s involve.
      Please make your own research as I could write pages regarding this barbarie. It’s all online… But people prefers to keep blind and ignorant about all this, they are not able, or simply don’t want, to see the cruelty that is all documented, real, and deeply sad.
      Ancestors have been eating meat for centuries, practising responsable farming and killing their own animals to feed their families. I truly respect those people that still do that. But it’s easier to sweep the debit card with clean hands, isn’t it.
      I think there’s plenty of guilt behind all meat defenders. May be I’m wrong on that, I’m not suggesting I know the truth… but what I’m really aware is that we as individuals have the power to make individual choices for the betterment of the word.
      Please awake and evolve! Thank you

    • I guess this gentleman (God fearing George, LOL) is preaching Cannibalism. “We should eat meat because we are made of meat.” To take this idea to its logical conclusion, we should eat human meat because we are made up of HUMAN meat. Please start with the contributors to this site!! There will be no loss of GDP, I promise you.

  4. I don’t this will be accurate learning from the pandemic crisis that we should take. Changing our eating habits is a good thing for ecological balance. It is very easy for us Indians as we have loads of variety in veg food. But do you think, say, people from China will change their food eating ways and all of a sudden turn into vegans? Certainly, I don’t advocate this thought. My view is coronavirus became a pandemic because it was the Chinese government and WHO, who was the culprit in this situation. If they acknowledged the fact of community, and social transmission regarding the disease, we won’t have faced this pandemic. Ultimately, it requires only a group of people to spread the disease and everyone won’t switch to vegan diets all of sudden.

  5. We will go right back to biz as normal, have to, we are stupid humans, no animal shi*#s where it lives like we do, it’s animal karma…

  6. we have been killing animals in million for eating. Animal are sent on conveyor belts and butchered . The nature always has a way of taking revenge and is hitting back in its own way.

  7. End of day the eating vegetarian is good is an undisputed fact; debates will be there for cruelty to animals as all non-veg eaters do part take in this cruelty. Vegetarian have every right taking high ground.

  8. Unlikely. I am waiting for Chinaman in the CCI to reopen. However, the consumption of wild animals should cease. The meat industry should also further improve its standards of hygiene and safety. Given our temperatures and humidity, much greater use should be made of refrigeration. There have been some recent incidents of severe food poisoning on cruise ships, possibly because western styles of food may have been served in tropical conditions. I wouldn’t eat sushi if offered for free.

    • Brazen comment without proper foundation sir.

      Apart from attracting bad karma which even bible says humans lose health too.

      The intestines of carnivorous mammals are short so that meat passes out fast through excreta. For herbivorous mammals the intestines are long.
      Human intestines are long like herbivorous mammals because to accommodate plant diet as it does not turn much toxic

  9. I don’t think like the title of the war ; no doubt some changes it would bring but don’t say these are changes Post Corona virus now because I think you are expecting something which is ideal enough. If you go through many Such pandemic while the pandemic is on so many Excellent things happened & happening now but I don’t think they are sustainable . The scared people may decide something, but the next day morning they start doing the things of last day. Because the fear will have its effect but it doesn’t add honour to vegetarians. This say of honour to vegetarians is a high flight of emotions & imaginations because if you keenly pay attention to every day news , there are gatherings, parties, non-vegetarians cooking going on in start it was have effect in start, but now people forgot & slowly adopting to the situations
    Through out the world 70% people are depended on non-vegetarian food, it increases never decreased

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