Dr. M. Saier, grad Student P. Kopkowski and collaborators Drs. S. M. Baird and L. Reddy just published a paper in the journal Microbial Phisiology. The title is: Eating Animal Products, a Common Cause of Human Diseases. For your convenience, this is the link to PubMed.
The human population is plagued by hundreds of infectious agents that cause diseases, and many of these agents can infect a range of wild and domesticated animals as well. In fact, a large proportion of current pathological conditions in humans is caused by our close association with non-human animals, some of which we keep as pets, but most of which we raise, prepare as food sources, and ingest. It is well established that most of these diseases are caused by a variety of infectious agents, the most important being bacteria, viruses, prions and protozoans. In this article we shall consider these agents and discuss their transmission from various animals and animal products to humans. It is noted than virtually none of these agents are obtained by eating plant-derived products unless the plants are grown and prepared with contaminated water. Consequently, we suggest that Homo sapiens could avoid a significant fraction of the diseases that plague us by shifting to a more vegetarian diet.