A well known vegan activist, known as Earthling Ed on social media, has sparked controversy by declaring that Coronavirus would not exist if it was not for meat eaters. He has been slammed for insensitivity and politicising the current crisis by people responding on Facebook and Instagram. No matter how true or false his claim - it is believed the virus may have started in a slaughter house in Wuhan, but not being a World Health specialist I am certainly not in a position to argue the validity of this claim - it does raise issues about the behaviour of everyone, whether or not they are adherents of a vegan lifestyle. We all have a responsibility during these hard times.
I am fortunate in that I live in a rural area where so far Coronavirus confirmed cases are reasonably limited. And yet I have twice this week called into the largest supermarket in my closest town for some basic supplies to find the shelves virtually stripped of products perceived by some as essentials should they have to self-isolate. Absolutely no paper goods, no bottled water, very little in the way of tinned food - I cannot remember seeing such an empty supermarket. And as for paracetamol, you can totally forget that. It does beg the question about the supermarket's policy - shouldn't they have limited the amount of, say, paper goods per customer? There certainly was no signage to suggest this was their policy. I can understand the reasons behind panic buying, but a little less selfishness by consumers and better monitoring by supermarkets would mean those who really are in need can get the provisions they require.
Ok, selfish panic buying is nothing to do with veganism. But it was notable that the fresh produce sections of the supermarket still had fully stocked shelves. I could not help thinking that this would be the ideal time for those who have toyed with the idea of going vegan to actually make the move. What better way to stockpile for potential self-isolation than to create and prepare some tasty vegan dishes (and don't forget to check out our recipes for some great ideas) and then pop them in the freezer to save for later. Seems obvious, and with so many people staying at home they certainly have the time to cook.
But what about the other smaller, independent vegan retailers? Like so many small businesses, they are facing their own crisis at this time. The popular resource for all things vegan, Plant Based News, is highlighting the plight of independent vegan retailers, as well as eateries. It relates the tales of those trying to help small vegan businesses, including blogger Clare Every - The Little London Vegan. Clare writes, "Small, independent businesses who are self employed and rely on customers to stay afloat are struggling, and they need out help more than ever. I understand not everyone is able to do any or all of the following options, but if you are able to, please consider popping to your local store rather than a large supermarket to pick up supplies. Order takeaways from an independent restaurant - lots of them are on the popular delivery apps and are implementing extra hygiene measures as well as 'contact free delivery', or buy a gift certificate which you can use at a later date."
We are hearing stories of acts of kindness and compassion around the world. Groups being set up to call and care for the elderly and vulnerable, neighbours doing shopping for those in need, even singers and musicians entertaining others in lockdown from their apartment balconies in Italy. Surely during these hard times looking out for others less able rather than selfish behaviour is the right thing to do.
There is no denying that the whole world is currently amid a crisis - I cannot remember such wide-ranging fear and panic around the globe - but now is not the time for the blame game. Common sense, care and compassion for others will surely get us through.