At The Beet, we’ve long admired the work of brilliant primatologist and anthropologist, Dr. Jane Goodall. The British scientist, conservationist and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute has long promoted environmental and animal welfare, and her messages of conservation are all the more urgent during these unsettling times.

In a recent article published in The Guardian, we read of Jane Goodall’s impassioned plea that we all rethink our food system to save the world from another catastrophic pandemic.

Goodall’s remarks were made at a recent online symposium hosted by Compassion in World Farming in early June. “We have brought this on ourselves because of our absolute disrespect for animals and the environment,” she said. “Our disrespect for wild animals and..for farmed animals has created this situation where disease can spill over to infect human beings.”

Goodall went on to say that people must work immediately to stop factory farming practices and the concomitant destruction of natural habitats because of the threat it creates of diseases and climate change.

“If we do not do things differently, we are finished,” she stressed. “We can’t go on very much longer like this.”

In a separate message in honor of World Environment Day earlier this month, Jane Goodall stressed this same perspective.  

After explaining that we must strive to end poverty to help preserve our environment since people in desperate conditions will inevitably have to prioritize feeding themselves⁠—no matter the environmental toll⁠—before anything else, she continues with other ways we’re wreaking havoc on our planet. 

“We have to do something to reduce our unsustainable way of life….so we’ve been through a very extraordinary time, we’re still going through it because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And nature’s had a chance in some cases to come back,” she begins her inspirational call for action. 

“The amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere have been reduced as factories were closed [amid coronavirus lockdown] and... people could no longer drive and pollute the air with fossil fuels, and the burning of fossil fuels. There must be hundreds of thousands of people now in the big cities, [who] maybe for the first time ever may be able to breathe clean air, what a luxury for them! We take it for granted, so many of us. So look up at the night sky and see the brightness of the stars shining up there, these people will not want to go back to business as usual.”

Never one to shy away from taking responsibility for human culpability, Goodall continues, “It’s our disrespect of the natural world that has brought this pandemic upon us. It's our fault. We’ve done it. Our disrespect of nature and our disrespect of animals.” Indeed, our disregard for our pale blue dot has been catastrophic, with other experts warning that factory farms could cause another pandemic.

Jane Goodall Says a New Virus "Can Spill OVer From Animal to Person."

“As we destroy, for example, forests, the rich biodiversity of animal life is being pushed together, giving opportunities for viruses to jump over from animals to other animals and then animals are being pushed into closer contact with us because of reduced food supplies in their own environment,” Goodall says.

“Then this again creates a situation where a bacteria or virus can spill over from [an] animal to a person, and by combining with cells in the body produce, sometimes, a new disease like COVID-19. Watch her full video message below.


Indeed, Goodall’s warning may seem overwhelming, but for better or worse, the future is in our hands. With everyone from doctors’ groups to Queen’s Brian May, urging people to go vegan in the wake of the coronavirus, one small step we all can take to help the world starts at our table. One Meatless Monday at a time, one green smoothie at a time, one I-can’t-believe-this-is-vegan risotto dinner at a time. Join us?

More From The Beet