All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?
In countless lives, out of respect for the millions of living beings, I have given up fish, meat, fat, in fact any food associated with killing and have also caused beings to do the same. Due to this my body has become the excellent body of a buddha, characterised by the special marks.
The eating of meat annihilates the seed of compassion.
(1729–1798), one of the most important tertöns of Tibet
All beings have been our mothers, but ordinary people do not recognize them as such, and that is why they are able to kill them. Of course, we Dharma people cannot eat meat, and why? Because our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters, our friends of the past who were so dear to us – here they are in front of us! They have become these bent and stupid creatures called animals, who do not know what is to be done and what is to be rejected. They may have horns on their heads, they may walk on four legs, but they are our parents and friends from the past. People never think about this. They imprison animals in pens and enclosures; it is quite terrible. And when these animals, all our parents, siblings, wives, and friends from the past, have fallen into the hands of their butchers, wicked, cruel men without the slightest trace of compassion, they tremble with fear, terrified beyond measure at the mere sight of their executioners. Their eyes fill with tears and they gasp with fright. They think to themselves, “Who will help me now? There is nowhere for me to run; I cannot fly away; there is only death for me!” They are overwhelmed with dread, their suffering more terrible than if they were on the very brink of the fiery pits of hell. They are thrown on their backs on the ground, their eyes staring from their sockets. And rubbing his hands with satisfaction, the butcher slices open their bellies with his knife and without the slightest hesitation sends them onto the path of the next life. What is there here that could possibly be pleasing to the lama? With complete trust in Guru Rinpoche, I beg you with tears in my eyes – all you who love me, do not kill even to save your own lives.
(1808-1887), prominent teacher and author of the Nyingma tradition in Tibetan Buddhism
Especially, nowadays most people crave meat and consume flesh and blood without a second thought, completely oblivious to all the diseases caused by old meat or harmful meat spirits. Unhealthy diets and lifestyles can also give rise to tumours, disorders of phlegm, dropsy and other diseases, causing innumerable deaths.
Some people imagine that only the person who physically carried out the killing is creating a negative karmic effect, and that the person who just gave the orders is not – or, if he is, then only a little. But you should know that the same karmic result comes to everyone involved… Each person gets the whole karmic result of killing one animal. It is not as if one act of killing could be divided up among many people.
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
(1820–1892), Renowned Tibetan Buddhist Teacher, Scholar and Tertön
Freeing the lives of sentient beings who are certain to be killed is supreme among all types of longevity practices. For this reason and because freeing lives brings immeasurable benefits, all sensible people should increase their efforts to free lives.
Contemporary Buddhist Teachers
1913 – 2015, Dzogchen master and reclusive yogi known for his great realization and strict discipline
If you take meat, it goes against the vows one takes in seeking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Because when you take meat you have to take a being’s life. So I gave it up.
Meat, the sinful food, is not permitted according to the three vows: the vows of liberation, the Bodhisattva vows and the tantric vows. Thus, Buddha stated, “I have never approved, do not approve, and will never approve of a meat diet. He declared, my followers must never eat meat.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
b.1926, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist
By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet
Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche
b. 1935, Tibetan lama in the Nyingma tradition whose work is dedicated to the preservation of the art and culture of Tibet
Any pleasure I ever found in eating meat could never compare to, or justify, the unimaginable suffering that occurred to produce it.
Leaders and Visionaries
1869-1948, Political and Spiritual Leader in British-Ruled India
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated…I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.
I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence.
To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body.
Scientists and Innovators
1847-1931, American Inventor (light bulb; phonograph) and Businessman
Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.
1879-1955 , German-born Physicist who developed the Theory of Relativity
Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals.
Vegetarian food leaves a deep impression on our nature. If the whole world adopts vegetarianism, it can change the destiny of humankind.
1903-1998, M.D., American Pediatrician and Author
When I was 88 years old, I gave up meat entirely and switched to a plant foods diet following a slight stroke. During the following months, I not only lost 50 pounds, but gained strength in my legs and picked up stamina. Now, at age 93, I’m on the same plant-based diet, and I still don’t eat any meat or dairy products. I either swim, walk, or paddle a canoe daily and I feel the best I’ve felt since my heart problems began.
1907-1964, American Marine Biologist and Conservationist, Author
Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is – whether its victim is human or animal – we cannot expect things to be much better in this world.
b.1953, American Physician and Author
The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of “real food for real people” you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.
b.1953, American Physician and Author
I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open and put them on cholesterol-lowering drugs for the rest of their lives.
b.1963, American Theoretical Physicist and String Theorist
I would ask, more generally, why the vast majority of people are not vegetarian. I think the answer is that most people don’t question the practice of eating meat since they always have. Many of these people care about animals and the environment, some deeply. But for some reason – force of habit, cultural norms, resistance to change – there is a fundamental disconnect whereby these feelings don’t translate into changes of behavior.
Authors and Poets
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803-1882, American Essayist, Poet and Lecturer
You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
1828-1910, Russian Author
As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.
“Thou shalt not kill” does not apply to murder of one’s own kind only, but to all living beings; and this Commandment was inscribed in the human breast long before it was proclaimed from Sinai.
A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral. If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals.
George Bernard Shaw
1856-1950, Irish Playwright and Founder of The London School of Economics
While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth? Animals are my friends … and I don’t eat my friends.”
Isaac Bashevis Singer
1902-1991, Polish-Born, Jewish-American Author
People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.
b.1947, American Author
It is increasingly obvious that environmentally sustainable solutions to world hunger can only emerge as people eat more plant foods and fewer animal products. To me it is deeply moving that the same food choices that give us the best chance to eliminate world hunger are also those that take the least toll on the environment, contribute the most to our long-term health, are the safest, and are also, far and away, the most compassionate towards our fellow creatures.
Leonardo da Vinci
1452-1519, Italian Renaissance Artist, Architect, musician, Scientist, Mathematician, Engineer, Inventor
I have since an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.
1875-1965, German-Born French Theologian, Philosopher, Physician and Medical Missionary
We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.
b. 1946, Philosopher
Becoming a vegan is a sure way of completely avoiding participation in the abuse of farmed animals. Vegans are a living demonstration of the fact that we do not need to exploit animals for food.
Those who, by their purchases, require animals to be killed have no right to be shielded from the slaughterhouse or any other aspect of the production of the meat they buy. If it is distasteful for humans to think about, what can it be like for the animals to experience it?
Pop Icons and Celebrities
1889-1950, Russian Ballet Dancer and Choreographer of Polish Descent
I do not like eating meat because I have seen lambs and pigs killed. I saw and felt their pain. They felt the approaching death. I could not bear it. I cried like a child. I ran up a hill and could not breathe. I felt that I was choking. I felt the death of the lamb.
b.1924, American Actor
I became a vegetarian in 1958 and it was very difficult in those days to really maintain that because there weren’t many options. But, now, it’s a growing trend because the economics are there. See, there’s simply enough people demanding it that it’s profitable to supply vegetarians with those products.
I think there will come a time, and this is down the road a great many years, when civilized people will look back in horror on our generation and the ones that have preceded it: the idea that we should eat other living things running around on four legs, that we should raise them just for the purpose of killing them! The people of the future will say, meat-eaters in disgust and regard us in the same way that we regard cannibals and cannibalism.
b.1926, American Actress
As soon as I realized that I didn’t need meat to survive or to be in good health, I began to see how forlorn it all is. If only we had a different mentality about the drama of the cowboy and the range and all the rest of it. It’s a very romantic notion, an entrenched part of American culture, but I’ve seen, for example, pigs waiting to be slaughtered, and their hysteria and panic was something I shall never forget.
b.1942, English Singer and Songwriter
If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.
b.1953, American Actress
If you could see or feel the suffering you wouldn’t think twice. Give back life. Don’t eat meat.
b.1958, English Singer, Songwriter and Musician
I just could not stand the idea of eating meat – I really do think that it has made me calmer. … People’s general awareness is getting much better, even down to buying a pint of milk: the fact that the calves are actually killed so that the milk doesn’t go to them but to us cannot really be right, and if you have seen a cow in a state of extreme distress because it cannot understand why its calf isn’t by, it can make you think a lot.
b.1959, American Actress
I have been a vegetarian for about 10 years. And it really was due to the reading that I did. And they explain so that you understand why it’s important for the planet’s survival along with compassion for animals. It certainly made it much easier for me. I lost weight really fast. My mother died from cancer so this is all very personal to me. And I just would like the planet to be a better place. And I think you’ll find a vegetarian diet to be really incredible these days.
b.1961, American Singer, Songwriter and Musician
I grew up in cattle country – that’s why I became a vegetarian. Meat stinks, for the animals, the environment, and your health.
b.1976, American Actress and Film and TV Producer
I did it for political, moral reasons, thinking that I was making this great sacrifice, but it was absolutely necessary; I was not going to contribute to the violence in the world anymore.
Once people spend time with farm animals in a loving way … a pig or cow or a little chicken or a turkey, they might find they relate with them the same way they relate with dogs and cats. People don’t really think of them that way because they’re on the plate. Why should they be food when other animals are pets? I would never eat my doggies.