Brian May Urges Boris Johnson to Tax Meat to Prevent Pandemics
Brian May believes the outbreak will make people reconsider eating meat. | Wikimedia Commons

(Updated May 11, 2020) | Queen lead guitarist Brian May just urged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to call for further restrictions on meat and other animal products.

The musician called out Johnson via Instagram during an unrelated hospitalization for “over-enthusiastic” gardening. In a series of videos, May asked Johnson to levy higher taxes on animal products and support farmers to retrain. He also criticized Johnson’s policies on pollution and Britain’s high-speed railway.

“I’ve been so disgusted and appalled and disappointed by the fact that we seem to be returning, at this pivotal point, to the world that we had before. I don’t believe this country wants that. I believe this country wants a better world. The world before is what got us into this mess,” said May.

“Let’s require our leaders to rebuild a New Britain,” continued May in a follow-up video. “Based on Compassion, Common Decency, and Respect for all creatures. How can we apply what we have learned during lockdown?”

May previously said that he believes veganism is the “way forward from the coronavirus pandemic. In an interview with NME, the 72-year-old musician said the global outbreak will cause people to reexamine their relationship with food animals.

“If you want to get deep into it, I think we should be looking again at whether we should be eating animals,” said May. “That’s a central issue here, this pandemic seemed to come from people eating animals.”

“It’s becoming more well known that eating animals is not the greatest thing for our health,” he added.

Tracing the Coronavirus’s Origins

Experts believe that the coronavirus originated from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China last December. However, Dr. Robert Garry, professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine, told NPR that more evidence is needed to determine if that is the exact starting point of the pandemic.

But, he confirmed that virus is zoonotic—able to be transmitted from animals to humans. For example, the coronavirus shares similarities with a virus found in pangolins. These scaly anteaters, native to Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, are often targets of the illegal wildlife trade. This was confirmed by a whole genomic sequencing of the virus.

“[T]hose sequences probably did arise from a virus like the pangolin coronavirus, or maybe some other coronavirus that can circulate in pangolins or some other animals,” said Garry.

Brian May Goes Vegan

May adopted a plant-based diet as an “experiment” at the start of the year for Veganuary. The global campaign that encourages people to go vegan for the month of January.

May “grappled with the fact” that he ate animals despite being a longtime campaigner against fox huts and badger culls. The current pandemic has motivated him to be more vocal about using animals for food.

“…[N]ow we’ve seen more of the effects of how eating animals has brought us to our knees as a species, I think it’s time to re-examine our world in a way that doesn’t abuse other species,” said May.

He concluded: “I think I will start to be a bit more preachy about veganism because to me it is the way forward, in so many ways.