The alarming news that bird flu has infected a human in England is a wake-up call we ignore at our peril, and it must result in an urgent rethink of our relationship with animals.

Our relentless demand for meat and other animal-derived products causes animals tremendous suffering and has already led to deadly outbreaks of bird flu, swine flu, Sars, and Covid-19.

Miserable chickens and other animals – including on “free-range” farms – are forced to live in crowded, squalid conditions, transported in filthy lorries, and killed in front of each other at slaughterhouses whose floors are soaked with bodily fluids.

Viruses multiply and mutate rapidly in these conditions and can easily jump between species, including to humans, as this latest bird flu infection shows.

The world is already struggling to deal with a pandemic linked to exploiting animals, and we must do all we can to prevent another one. Each of us can play our part right now by making the only rational, compassionate choice: leaving animals off our plates in favour of vegan meals.

Natalie Tambini

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals