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Practice Compassion Through Vegetarianism

Buddha said a Buddhist should not kill a living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should he incite another to kill. - Dhammika Sutta
A noble disciple … refrains from harming life, exhorts others to refrain from harming life, and speaks in praise of refraining from harming life. - Veludvareyya Sutta

If people eat animals other people have to kill them. Buying animal foods encourages people to kill animals. Killing causes suffering for animals & for the people who kill them. Buddha said butchers suffer in hell for an extremely long time. Slaughterhouse workers often develop depression, alcoholism & become violent to their families. If people stop eating animals & eat plants instead, more jobs will be created in less violent industries.

Animals are sentient; they feel happiness, sadness, love & fear. Animals in the wild exercise, play & watch sunsets. Dolphins rescue people from drowning. Pigs sing to the moon. Sheep remember the faces of their friends. Chickens have language, and tell each other when food is found. When cows are about to be killed, they are terrified. Some cows escape the slaughterhouse. When a baby cow is taken away from its mother & killed, mama cow becomes depressed.

Have compassion for animals, don't eat them. Compassion requires us to cease killing sentient beings. Animals raised for food are killed. Killing animals because you like their taste is not compassion. Paying other people to kill animals for you isn't compassion. Animals in huge factory farms live very unhappy lives. They are separated from their families & kept in overcrowded, dreary, unhealthy conditions. Buying meat supports industries that kill animals.

Have compassion for wild animals, don't buy meat. Cattle grazing destroys the habitat of many small animals. The US forest service tears down trees that were home to birds, so ranchers can graze cattle. Some wild animals have become endangered species because of cattle grazing. Erosion from cattle grazing pollutes streams & rivers, killing fish. If people stop eating cows, there will be room for wild animals to live free, natural lives.

There's a limited compassion, called near compassion: caring only for people close to us, or people similar to ourselves; caring for pets, but not for animals killed for food. You are capable of much more than that. Your true nature is the source of boundless compassion. How can you increase your compassion? It's all about intention. Make a decision to develop more compassion. Think about having compassion for more people & animals than you do now.

Compassion arises naturally when you allow the suffering of others to affect you. If you eat animals, it's disturbing to think about their suffering; you may feel anger, fear, guilt or shame when asked to have compassion for them. Those feelings block your compassion. If you stop eating animals, you will feel safer about feeling compassion for animals.

Practice compassion three times a day, eat vegetarian food. Vegetarianism is a way to support your growing compassion within, & express your compassion outward in the world. Eating vegetarian food can be an occasion for reflecting on compassion, and a way to act with compassion.

See Also

Buddhist Vegetarian Sites · San Francisco Bay Area Tibetan Buddhism © Jordan Rothstein <jordan at>