Whoever lacks… compassion in killing animals or making them suffer will logically find it more difficult than most to feel compassion for their relatives. It is always dangerous to ignore the suffering of any living being, of whatever species, even if we think it necessary to sacrifice an animal for the benefit of the majority. To deny the suffering involved, or to avoid thinking about it, is a convenient solution, but such an attitude opens the door to all kinds of excesses as we witness in wartime. It also destroys our own happiness. As I often say, sympathy and compassion always end up proving beneficial. -Dalai Lama Daily Advice From the Heart
Thus, being vegetarian is beneficial for the spirit. It is beneficial for the body as well, helping prevent high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, prostate, colon and breast cancer, macular degeneration, cataracts, osteoporosis, migraines, body odor, allergies and arthritis. From Nursing Degree.net, read 57 health benefits of going vegan. In the following letter from June 22, 2004, His Holiness takes on Kentucky Fried Chicken:
I am writing to ask that KFC abandon its plan to open
restaurants in Tibet, because your corporation’s support for cruelty
and mass slaughter violate Tibetan value.
I have been particularly concerned with the sufferings of chickens for
many years. It was the death of a chicken that finally strengthened my
resolve to become vegetarian. In 1965, I was staying at a Government
Guest House in south India. My room looked directly on to the
kitchens opposite. One day I chanced to see the slaughter of a chicken,
which made me decide to become a vegetarian.
Tibetans are not, as a rule, vegetarians, because in Tibet vegetables are
often scarce and meat forms a large part of the staple diet. However, it
was considered more ethical to eat the meat of larger animals such as
yaks than small ones, because fewer large animals would have to be
killed. For this reason, consumption of fish and chicken was rare, in
fact traditionally we thought of chickens only as a source of eggs, not as
food themselves, and even eggs were seldom eaten because they were
thought to dull the sharpness of mind and memory. Eating chicken
only really began with the arrival of the Chinese communists.
These days, when I see a row of plucked chickens hanging in a meat
shop it hurts. I find it unacceptable that violence is the basis of some of
our food habits. When I am driving through the towns near where I
live in India I see thousands of chickens in cages outside restaurants
ready to be killed. When I see them I feel very sad, because in the heat
they have no shade or relief, and in the cold they have no shelter from
the wind. These poor chickens are treated as if they were merely
In Tibet, buying animals from the butcher, thereby saving their lives,
and setting them free was a common practice. Many Tibetans, even in
exile, continue this practice where practically possible. It is therefore
quite natural for me to support those who are currently protesting
against the introduction of industrial food practices into Tibet that will
perpetuate the suffering of huge numbers of chickens.
H.H. Dalai Lama
Once again, understanding the yak is helpful to understanding Tibetan Buddhism. The Lama’s plea may have succeeded as KFC abandoned their plan to move into Tibet. Nonetheless, chickens are widely believed to be the most abused animals on Earth. In the following link, the Dalai Lama goes to Australia and criticizes companies that “remain indifferent” to animal suffering and calls for an end to animal experimentation. He expresses horror at “Hunting. Beef, sheep farms. Piggeries. Millions, billions die. We can be so cruel to animals.” See John Robbins’ Eating for Peace on mindful eating and Top 7 Falacies of Eating Meat for some of the larger repercussions of what’s on your dinner plate. Being a vegetarian may give you six more years to your life expectancy, but it’s quality not quantity that counts.