March 14, 2011

Peace Begins on Our Plates

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has released an ad featuring a Thich Nhat Hanh teaching:

I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world.

We've run stories about animal rights in the past and have had lively discussion about the ethics of pet euthanasia, but it's not often that we've addressed strict veganism. Sam Mowe (you may know him on Twitter as "Tricycle Sam") has written about it here, though, and it always inspires debate—healthy debate. Take a look here and here.

Thay, as Thich Nhat Hanh is called by his students, is known for his veganism and his commitment to radical nonviolence, an approach he urges us to adopt toward all sentient beings.

Here's the full text of the ad that follows Thay's teaching:

Nonviolence includes all beings.

Farmed animals feel pain and fear just like the animals we share our homes with, yet they are abused in ways that would be illegal if dogs and cats were the victims. In today's meat industry, chickens and turkeys have their throats slit while still conscious, piglets have their tails and testicles cut off without painkillers, and fish are suffocated or cut open while still alive. Nothing could be further form the virtue of loving-kindness.

A peaceful world begins on our plates.

According to Matt Freeman, PETA's media placement coordinator, Thay gave full permission to use his teaching.

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stardust's picture

This is an excellent ad, and I have always greatly admired both Thich Nhat Hanh and PETA: a great combination. Veganism is definitely an important expression of compassion for all living beings, of nonviolence, and of skillful action.

I also want to add that I find it a curious claim in one comment that PETA uses "sexism," given that the organization is mostly run and staffed by women who are, of course, feminists. I think there is confusion here between some eye-catching sexy ads and actual sexism. The female celebrities in PETA's ads are volunteers, and using their sexuality to call attention to oppression can be seen as an empowering *choice*. Such protests go back to the time when Lady Godiva supposedly rode nude on horseback to protest oppressive taxes. Also, keep in mind that the most oppressive and sexist societies are ones that control how women dress and give them no such choice. Let's be thankful to live in free societies, where people can express themselves as they wish.

myers_lloyd's picture

As I understand Lady Godiva's gesture, it would have been a deep humiliation for her husband to endure her naked ride - her object was not to arouse men in order to draw their attention to her goal. PETA women using scanty clothes appeal only to males, and I find it a cheap gimmick worthy of a second rate ad agency which excludes women and is unrelated to PETA's cause- building empathy for suffering animals with the goal of inducing people to stop harming them. "Eye catching sexy ads"? Whose eyes? Why an exclusive male audience? It's a pleasant sexual frisson for the boys, but what inducement is there for men to protect animals? (Women aren't even invited to join in.) I've been involved in feminism since the sixties - and I hope this ad signals a shift in PETA's strategy. Like others who've responded, I too appreciate it.

stardust's picture

I don't think Peeping Tom agreed with your interpretation of the Godiva legend. Anyway, your comments about "excludes women" and "an exclusive male audience" certainly do not apply to PETA generally, as its staff and membership appear to include many more women than men. In fact, the animal rights group has used all sorts of campaigns and messages over the years to appeal to many different audiences. This ad is just one of many outreach efforts and a quite welcome one at that since the burgeoning North American Buddhist community and the compassionate message of animal rights activism make for a natural fit.

shannon.d.elliott's picture

`Nonviolence includes all beings.``

Veganism is one method of putting the above truth into action. It is applying nonviolence to the energy that sustains you - your food. It is a way to think about an action you participate in and question its truth against that larger understanding of nonviolence. It is a way for the individual to allow their being to be a larger expression of love.

Buddhism teaches that diet matters - they do so by advocating a vegetarian diet. What vegetarian means is up to the interpreter. It can be narrowly defined or all encompassing, that`s up to us. This knowledge is ours and we have the opportunity to allow this truth to affect our actions.

Imagine a world where love thrives. Imagine what you are eating. Eat accordingly - act accordingly :) There is no judgment - it`s just the path upon which we all walk.

Now as for the choice of PETA to express this message, I am conflicted. How can an organization that uses one oppression (sexism) to address the concerns of another oppression (animal rights) be the correct spokesperson for Thich Nhat Hanh`s message? Perhaps it is time for a Buddhist animals rights organization?


boisaacson's picture

Thanks for commenting Bearded One and Monty. I have a version of the poster that I received from PETA and can e-mail it to anyone who wants it. I am a long-time supporter of PETA and Dharma teacher. PETA is okay with me doing so. Or, you can contact them directly, but I'm not sure how to find it over there. I am not asking for any money in return, but it sure would be nice for folks to make a donation to PETA in appreciation for all the work they did in creating this beautiful poster/reminder for the Dharma Community.

stardust's picture

I just want to note that there's a little typo toward the end of the pull quote from the ad: "form" instead of "from." It's not in the actual ad itself. You might want to fix that.

Also, please e-mail me that version of the poster you mentioned. (I'm also already a PETA supporter.) Many thanks!

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for commenting BeardedOne,

I'm not sure what the situation regarding purchasing this poster is, you'd have to ask PETA.

BeardedOne's picture

Is there anyway this poster can be purchased for individual use and/or distribution?