How to Survive a Pandemic
by Dr Michael Greger
Michael Greger M.D, an American physician, author, and public health activist, was first propelled into the spotlight after publishing both a website and book about his stark opposition to the Atkins diet and similarly constructed low-carb meal plans. Greger has been an instrumental player in advocating for whole foods and plant-based eating and warning against animal-derived food products. Greger has extensively studied and is thoroughly educated in both infectious diseases and nutrition, and finds many direct links between these concepts. How to Survive a Pandemic acts as a timeline of infectious diseases throughout history, beginning with the Spanish Flu and tuberculosis during the World War, and ending with more recent pandemics such as Swine Flu and Covid-19.
The book is extremely thoroughly researched and includes an impressive list of references that readers can follow to fact-check or scrutinise any information provided throughout. Greger’s authorial voice finds a good balance between colloquial wit and education and avoids overwhelming readers with information that they don’t feel qualified to interpret. Greger discusses the correlation between the transfer of deadly viruses from animal to human, particularly in relation to the consumption of animal products. He heavily reinforces the message of “common sense over panic,” throughout what could be deemed particularly panic-inducing content and talks through a stark but realistic point that Covid-19, whilst deadly and currently relevant, is not the first and will not be the last outbreak that we as a species will have to face as long as poultry exist. Greger explains that the eradication of the domestication and consumption of poultry could stop the cycle of pandemics indefinitely, but as long as they exist, pandemics will not only continue to occur, but the accompanying viruses will continue to mutate and develop into deadlier and more infectious versions of themselves. In reference to the continuation of the poultry/meat industry, he states, “In the end it may be us or them.”
Some critics of Greger’s work believe he severely exaggerates the health benefits of a plant-based diet and only writes to points that perpetuate that narrative. Despite the views of his critics, Greger encourages readers throughout How to Survive a Pandemic to critically analyse any and all information presented to them and to follow up on academic references. A warning to some readers may be helpful, however, that whilst the title may indicate to some that the book may be parodical in nature, it is, in fact, a serious text that would not fit into the category of a ‘light read.’
Dr Michael Greger’s How to Survive a Pandemic is a loud statement to those who aim to silence him by branding him as a ‘preachy vegan archetype’, and aims to act as a catalyst for change and awareness. Anyone who is looking to learn more about the origins of infectious diseases and the impact of various industries on public health will find a balanced and straightforward presentation of facts in Greger’s book.