The Dalai Lama spoke on the value of vegetarianism at an event in Mumbai launching the new office of Humane Society International. His Holiness said, “Animals deserve our compassion. We must know their pain. We should nurture this compassion through education. Showing concern about animal rights is respecting their life.” We agree!
These comments were part of a panel discussion that also included Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, (HSUS;) Andrew Rowan, president and CEO of Humane Society International (HIS;) animal advocate Pritish Nandy; Bollywood star Anil Kapoor; and author Chetan Bhagat.
Wayne Pacelle explained on his blog that Dalai Lama is not presently vegetarian, though he does believe it to be the best diet. Pacelle explains:
“Today, in his extended public remarks on animal issues, he mentioned that he’s been back and forth on his vegetarianism through his eight decades, and is not a vegetarian now,” wrote Wayne. “But he condemned factory farming, and specifically the rearing of hens in battery cages. He said that being vegetarian is better for us and better for animals, and that South Indian vegetarian food is his favorite cuisine. Throughout his entire speech and in the question and answer session that followed, he wore a Humane Society International baseball cap, which delighted me even though it clashed with his Buddhist monastic robe.”Kapoor, who appears in Slumdog Millionaire, among many other Bollywood films, spoke to the value of a vegetarian diet in supporting the hungry:
"No one needs to sleep hungry, let alone die of starvation. Yet tens of thousands of children sleep hungry each night because the grains that could nourish these children [goes] not into their bellies, but the bellies of the cows, pigs and chickens that form an essential part of a non-vegetarian diet. A desire to eat meat is no more inherently valuable than the right of some our brothers and sisters who don’t eat at all. Our prosperity, enjoyment and progress are only deeply valued when they do not come at the expense of others.”Buddhist views on meat eating are confusing. A Buddhist won't swat a mosquito, but it's okay to pick up some hamburger at Safeway? Well, I guess religious traditions aren't required to make sense. Regardless, it's excellent to see His Holiness speaking up on behalf of the animals.