Religious Quotations About Vegetarianism
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(Religions are listed alphabetically.)

(Many of these quotations come from Jon Wynne-Tyson, The Extended Circle (Fontwell Sussex: Centaur Press, 1985), abbreviated as EC below.


For the sake of love of purity, the Bodhisattva should refrain from eating flesh! For fear of causing terror to living beings, let the Bodhisattva, who is disciplining himself to attain compassion, refrain from eating flesh meat eating in any form, in any manner, and in any place is unconditionally and once and for all prohibited! Meat eating I have not permitted to anyone. (Buddha, from the Lankavatara Sutra, EC, 36.)

I do not see any reason why animals should be slaughtered to serve as human diet; there are so many substitutes. After all man can live without meat. (Dali Lama of Tibet (1935 - ), The Vegetarian Way, 1967)


Blessed are the merciful (Matthew 5:7)

... as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me (Matthew 25:40)

"Animals are God's creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God's sight. ... Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God's absolute identification with the weak, the powerless, and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering." --Rev. Andrew Linzey ()

The mistreatment of animals in "intensive husbandry" is, then, part of this larger practice of insensitivity to general values and indeed to humanity and life itself - a picture which more and more comes to display the ugly lineaments (features) of what can only be called by its right name: barbarism. (Thomas Merton, Unlived Life )

If you have men who will exclude any of God`s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man. (St. Francis of Assisi)

Sacrifices were invented by men to be a pretext for eating flesh. (Clement of Alexandria)


Meat cannot be obtained without injury to animals, and the slaughter of animals obstructs the way to Heaven; let him therefore shun the use of meat. (the Laws of Manu V, 45 - 52)

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. (Mahatma Gandhi, The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism)

It ill becomes us to invoke in our daily prayers the blessings of God, the compassionate, if we in turn will not practice elementary compassion towards our fellow creatures. (Mahatma Gandhi)


Non-injury to living beings is the highest religion. (Yogashastra)


1. God's original dietary law

And God said: "Behold, I have given you every herb-yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit - to you it shall be for food." (Genesis 1:29)

God did not permit Adam and his wife to kill a creature to eat its flesh. Only every green herb shall they all eat together. (Rashi’s commentary on Genesis 1:29)

You are permitted to use the animals and employ them for work, have dominion over them in order to utilize their services for your subsistence, but must not hold their life cheap nor slaughter them for food. Your natural diet is vegetarian.... (Moses Cassuto (1883 -1951) in his commentary From Adam to Noah )

Adam was not permitted meat for purposes of eating. (Babylonian Talmud (B.T. 59b)

2. Attitude toward animals

A righteous person regards the life of his or her animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. (Proverbs 12:10)

The Lord is good to all and His tender mercies are over all His creatures. ( Psalms 145:9 )

The tzaddik (righteous person) acts according to the laws of justice; not only does he act according to these laws with human beings, but also with animals. (the Malbim)

Living creatures possess a soul and a certain spiritual superiority which in this respect make them similar to those who possess intellect (people) and they have the power of affecting their welfare and their food and they flee from pain and death. (Nachmanides, commentary on Genesis 1:29)

There is no difference between the pain of humans and the pain of other living beings, since the love and tenderness of the mother for the young are not produced by reasoning, but by feeling, and this faculty exists not only in humans but in most living beings. (Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed)

For that which befalls the sons of men befalls animals; even one thing befalls them; as the one dies, so dies the other; yes, they all have one breath; so that man has no preeminence above an animal; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are of the dust. who knows the spirit of men whether it goes upward; and the spirit of the animal whether it goes downward to the earth? (Ecclesiastes 3:19-21)

It is forbidden, according to the law of the Torah, to inflict pain upon any living creature. On the contrary, it is our duty to relieve the pain of any creature, even if it is ownerless or belongs to a non Jew. (Code of Jewish Law)

When horses, drawing a cart, come to a rough road or a steep hill, and it is hard for them to draw the cart without help, it is our duty to help them, even when they belong to a non-Jew, because of the precept not to be cruel to animals, lest the owner smite them to force them to draw more than their strength permits. (Code of Jewish Law)

It is forbidden to tie the legs of a beast or of a bird in a manner as to cause them pain. (Code of Jewish Law)

You shall not muzzle the ox when he threshes out the corn. (Deuteronomy 25:4)

You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together. (Deuteronomy 22:10)

While our teacher Moses was tending the flock of Jethro in the wilderness a kid ran away from him. He ran after the kid until it reached Hasuah. Upon reaching Hasuah, the kid came upon a body of water and began to drink. When Moses reached him he said, "I did not know that you were running because [you were] thirsty. You must be tired." He placed the kid on his shoulder and began to walk. The Holy One, blessed be He, said, "You are compassionate in leading flocks belonging to mortals; I swear you will similarly shepherd my flock, Israel." (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 2:2)

As God is merciful, so you also be merciful. As he loves and cares for all His creatures and His children and are related to Him, because He is their Father, so you also love all His creatures as your brethren. Let their joys be your joys, and their sorrows yours. Love them and with every power which God gives you, work for their welfare and benefit, because they are the children of your God, because they are your brothers and sisters. (Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, Horeb, Chapter 72, Section 482.)

Here you are faced with God's teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours. (Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, Horeb, Chapter 60, Section 416.)

There are probably no creatures that require more the protective Divine word against the presumption of man than the animals, which like man have sensations and instincts, but whose body and powers are nevertheless subservient to man. In relation to them man so easily forgets that injured animal muscle twitches just like human muscle, that the maltreated nerves of an animal sicken like human nerves, that the animal being is just as sensitive to cuts, blows, and beating as man. Thus man becomes the torturer of the animal soul. (Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, Horeb, Chapter 60, Section 415.)

It seems doubtful from all that has been said whether the Torah would sanction 'factory farming,' which treats animals as machines, with apparent insensitivity to their natural needs and instincts. This is a matter for decision by halachic authorities. (Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, Masterplan: Judaism: its Programs, Meanings, Goals (New York/Jerusalem: Feldheim, 1991), 69.)

The current treatment of animals in the livestock trade definitely renders the consumption of meat as halachically unacceptable as the product of illegitimate means. (Rabbi David Rosen, "Vegetarianism: An Orthodox Jewish Perspective", in Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving Tradition, edited by Roberta Kalechofsky (Micah Publications: Marblehead, Massachusetts, 1995), 53.)

3. Messianic times And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, And the leopard shall lie down with the kid; And the calf and the young lion and the falling together; And a little child shall lead them And the cow and the bear shall feed; Their young ones shall lie down together, And the lion shall eat straw like the ox . . . . They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain... (Isaiah 11:6-9)

The progress of dynamic ideals will not be eternally blocked. Through general, moral and intellectual advancement... shall the latent aspiration of justice for the animal kingdom come out into the open, when the time is ripe. (Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace)

4. Attitudes toward vegetarianism

The removal of blood which kashrut teaches is one of the most powerful means of making us constantly aware of the concession and compromise which the whole act of eating meat, in reality, is. Again it teaches us reverence for life. (Samuel Dresner, The Jewish Dietary Laws, 29)

Apparently the Torah was in principle opposed to the eating of meat. When Noah and his descendants were permitted to eat meat this was a concession conditional on the prohibition of the blood. This prohibition implied respect for the principle of life ("for the blood is the life") and an allusion to the fact that in reality all meat should have been prohibited. This partial prohibition was designed to call to mind the previously total one. (Rabbi Moses Cassutto, quoted by Nehama Leibowitz, Studies in Genesis, 77.)

The Torah teaches a lesson in moral conduct, that man shall not eat meat unless he has a special craving for it... and shall eat it only occasionally and sparingly. (B.T. Chulin 84a)

Only a scholar of Torah may eat meat, but one who is ignorant of Torah is forbidden to eat meat. (B.T. Sanhedrin 49b)

What was the necessity for the entire procedure of ritual slaughter? For the sake of self discipline. It is far more appropriate for man not to eat meat; only if he has a strong desire for meat does the Torah permit it, and even this only after the trouble and inconvenience necessary to satisfy his desire. Perhaps because of the bother and annoyance of the whole procedure, he will be restrained from such a strong and uncontrollable desire for meat. (Rabbi Solomon Efraim Lunchitz, Kli Yakar)

Accordingly, the laws of kashrut come to teach us that a Jew's first preference should be a vegetarian meal. If, however, one cannot control a craving for meat, it should be kosher meat, which would serve as a reminder that the animal being eaten is a creature of God, that the death of such a creature cannot be taken lightly, that hunting for sport is forbidden, that we cannot treat any living thing callously, and that we are responsible for what happens to other beings (human or animal) even if we did not personally come into contact with them. (Rabbi Pinchas Peli, Torah Today, Washington, D.C.: B'Nai B'rith Books, 1987, 118)

5. Emphasis on plant foods

For the Lord your God brings you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barle