Veganism is a compassionate way of life. It is a philosophy that recognises the inherent right to life for all sentient beings, regardless of their species or level of consciousness.
Vegans strive to walk a path of nonviolence, justice and peace by refusing to participate in the exploitation, abuse and killing of animals.
Thus vegans refrain from consuming products that come from suffering and, as far as possible and practical, boycott industries that exploit animals.
Although the term “vegan” was coined only fairly recently in 1944 by Donald Watson, the philosophy itself goes back thousands of years. The principles of a noble, nonviolent way of life have been fundamental in many different cultures and spiritual traditions all around the world, from ancient Vedas, Buddhists, Jains and Essenes to Egyptian mystery schools.
Below is a selection of vegan messages in sacred scriptures:
“‘Thou shalt not kill,' for life is given to all by God, and that which God has given, let not man take away. For, I tell you truly, from one Mother proceeds all that lives upon the earth. Therefore, he who kills, kills his brother.
…And the flesh of slain beasts in his body will become his own tomb. For I tell you truly, he who kills, kills himself, and whoso eats the flesh of slain beasts, eats of the body of death.”
-Yeshua, Jesus Christ, Essene Gospel of Peace
“All beings tremble before violence. All love life. All fear death. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?”
“One who, while himself seeking happiness oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.”
“He, who injures living beings, is not Noble. He is called Noble, because he is gentle and kind towards all living beings.”
-Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha
“You must not use your God-given body for killing God’s creatures, whether they are human, animal or whatever.”
-Yajur Veda 12.32
“Those noble souls who practice meditation and other yogic ways, who are ever careful about all beings, who protect all animals, are the ones who are actually serious about spiritual practices.”
-Atharva Veda 19.48.5
“By not killing any living being, one becomes eligible for salvation.”
“The purchaser of flesh performs himsa (violence) by his wealth; he who eats flesh does so by enjoying its taste; the killer does himsa by actually tying and killing the animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing. He who brings flesh or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal, and he who purchases, sells, or cooks flesh and eats it—all of these are considered meat-eaters.”
-Mahabharata, Anu. 115.40
“Ahimsa (nonviolence) is the highest duty.”
-Padma Purana 1.31.27
“Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being.”
“When you feel the suffering of every living thing in your own heart, that is consciousness.”
Quotes from vegan thinkers and philosophers:
“For as long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”
“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.”
-Leonardo Da Vinci
“The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.”
“The Gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies; they are the trees and the plants and the seeds.”
“A human body in no way resembles those that were born for ravenousness; it hath no hawk’s bill, no sharp talon, no roughness of teeth, no such strength of stomach or heat of digestion, as can be sufficient to convert or alter such heavy and fleshy fare . . . There is nobody that is willing to eat even a lifeless and a dead thing even as it is; so they boil it, and roast it, and alter it by fire and medicines, as it were, changing and quenching the slaughtered gore with thousands of sweet sauces, that the palate being thereby deceived may admit of such uncouth fare.”
"I feel that spiritual progress demands that we stop killing and eating our brothers, creatures of God, just to satisfy our perverted and sensual appetites.
The supremacy of man over the animal should be shown not only ashamed of the barbaric custom of killing and devouring them but by caring for them, protecting them and loving them. Not eating meat is, without a doubt, a great help for the evolution and peace of our spirit.”
"The question is not, 'Can they reason?' nor, 'Can they talk?' but rather, 'Can they suffer?"
“A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses.”
-George Bernard Shaw
“If you yourselves had to use the knife or the pole-axe, and slaughter the animal before you could feed upon its flesh, you would realise the sickening nature of the task and would soon refuse to perform it. Would the delicate ladies who devour sanguinary beefsteaks like to see their sons working as slaughtermen? If not, then they have no right to put this task upon some other woman's son. We have no right to impose upon a fellow-citizen work which we ourselves should decline to do… for in eating this horrible food we are making a demand that some one shall brutalise himself, that some one shall degrade himself below the level of humanity.”
-C. W. Leadbeater
Veganism itself is a position of avoidance, a stance which many consider should simply be the absolute default of a humane way of being. Thus, in order to bring about true change and abolish the systematic cruelty and exploitation of our animal kin, one must take a step further and become active.
Animal rights activists work to give voice to the voiceless and fight against the mega-billion-dollar industries that commodify and exploit animals.
This is done by going undercover to gather footage of the obscene industry practices, forming political parties who drive the animal rights movement, organising fundraisers and rescue missions, building sanctuaries, participating in vigils or street activism, creating campaigns, educating people and raising awareness through vegan businesses, websites, social media, music, art, clothing and more.
Every voice matters.
Every act matters.
Every single activist is that much more hope for the billions of enslaved animals who lose their lives as a result of human ignorance, greed and apathy. Every single one of us is a vital part of the organism of change, to restore the harmonious connection to Nature and all of Life.
It is up to us who have the fire of compassion in our hearts to speak up. It is up to us who know the abhorrent truth about the industry to bring it to the light. It is up to us who see a brighter future for humanity and all of Creation to use our power to inspire and awaken people.
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Photo by Sydney Rae