Brent Barrett’s Home Planet: Natural purists back out on surprising Covid vaccine



Not being vaccinated dramatically increases your risk of needing hospital care and that comes with a slew of pharmaceutical drugs and single-use plastic. Photo / Provided


Ah 2021, the surprising year. I think we all made some unexpected discoveries last year. Certainly I did. The pandemic has a way of doing it.

One of my surprises came from the health and wellness movement. I’ve been part of that crowd all my life, and I thought I knew them well.

A bit of context. My parents raised me in a religious tradition that combines health and holiness. I could never make sense of holiness. But the focus on health sparked a lifelong interest and passion. The health of men and nature. An easy fit alongside a broader environmental mindset, striving for a more planet-friendly future.

What kind of health and wellness movement am I talking about? Nothing wild. Just the basics like regular exercise, healthy and organic foods, mindfulness, natural products. For nearly five decades, I have spent time and energy connecting with my family, friends, and colleagues who place this kind of wellness at the center. Often linked to yoga studios, health food stores, holistic medicine practitioners, etc. Yes, sometimes outside the mainstream, but wonderful, energizing people and places.

In many cases, there is a lot of good evidence supporting health and wellness. Take herbicides for example. They are massively overused to overproduce food and to kill unwanted plants in and around the city. Many of these poisons do incredible harm to people and nature, just read up on neonicotinoids when in doubt. So it’s absolutely brilliant that alongside staunch environmentalists, the health and wellness movement is often at the forefront, calling for cleaner food production systems and poison-free urban public spaces.

So yes, I am truly surprised that some of these wonderful people and places, who have invested heavily in supporting their own health and the health of others, are seemingly unable to link their natural lifestyle choices to the enormous value of the Covid vaccine to their own healthy future and the health of those around them.

Of course, an overall goal of keeping things as natural as possible makes sense. It guides much of my own life. But for the otherwise health-savvy, withdrawing from the protection offered by the vaccine in the face of a rapid and deadly Covid pandemic was quite a surprise. A narrow but very real blind spot. Yes, it can challenge self-imposed desires for purity and perceived naturalness. But the benefits are huge, far outweighing any cost or risk.


Even if your goal is natural purity, think about it. Not being vaccinated greatly increases the risk of needing hospital care in the event of an epidemic. This is accompanied by a series of pharmaceutical drugs, in addition to the amplified dangers associated with the actual disease. How is it good for a natural lifestyle, those around you, or the healthcare system?

Of course, many local people, businesses and organizations focused on health and wellness understand and promote the Covid vaccine. Which is very reassuring to me. While there are voices and uninformed choices in the health and wellness movement, many are able to gather and evaluate evidence, and objectively weigh the risks and benefits for themselves and those around them. And do so with generosity of spirit, considering the direct impact of personal choices on the people around them and on the natural world.

This is all the health and wellness movement, as well as the environmental movement and society at large, need as we navigate a just transition to our shared future.

Eco-advice: Help reduce single-use plastic waste by getting vaccinated against Covid. Have you seen how much single-use plastic is needed for each Covid patient?

• Brent Barrett is an environmental advocate, city councilor and scientist. The opinions expressed here are his own.

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