The renowned ethologist and environmentalist made the comments in a recent interview with the National Press Club’s president Michael Freedman.
Dr. Goodall, who is 87, ditched meat sometime around the early 1970s. While she has been described as vegan by Moby, other sources say she is vegetarian. She has openly advocated for moving towards a plant-based diet.
Fighting climate change
During the conversation, Dr. Goodall tackled a range of topics, including how our exploitation of animals has harmed the environment and allowed the COVID-19 virus to transmit to humans.
She also discussed climate change – and said that if everyone ditched or reduced their meat intake, it would have a hugely positive impact both on the environment and on reducing cruelty.
Speaking about the current pandemic, and how it is reflective of human disrespect for other species and the natural world, Dr. Goodall said: “The way we have disrespected the environment and animals…we have destroyed environments habitats, pushed animals in closer contact with people, given an opportunity for a pathogen such as the COVID-19 virus to jump from an animal to a person and maybe start a new disease.
“We’ve hunted them, killed them, eaten them. We’ve trafficked them, we’ve sent them from different regions or different countries to be sold as food, medicine, or as pets in the wildlife markets of Asia. We’ve sold them as food or sometimes medicine in the bushmeat markets of Africa, and also there is the exotic pet trade – usually illegal – which is now a global business worth billions of dollars.
“And in all these situations as well as in our factory farms where animals are kept – billions of them in crowded unsanitary conditions – these are creating the environment for creating a new zoonotic disease.”
Dr. Goodall was even more outspoken in her condemnation of factory farming later on in the interview, where she branded the facilities ‘concentration camps’ as she described how they impact the planet.
She said: “If we would just stop eating all of this meat, the difference would be huge because all of these billions of farm animals, billions, kept in concentration camps to feed us, and, you know, whole environments are wiped out to grow the grain to feed them.
“Masses of fossil fuel is used to get the grain to the animals, the animals to the abattoir, the meat to the table. Masses of water, which is in such short supply and drying in some areas, is used to get vegetable-to animal protein. And, finally, they’re all producing gas in their digestion and that’s methane, and that is a very virulent greenhouse gas…so there’s so much we can do as individuals…and let’s say you’re right. Let’s say there’s no hope. Well wouldn’t you rather die fighting than give up? I would, and I will.”