My Dear Sister
I wish you and John and the kids a happy new year,
and that 1994 will bring meaningful changes to your life. But I want to
make this not just an empty greeting. I want to give you and your loved
ones something which all the wealth in the world cannot buy, something
that will ensure that you live long, healthy and happy. More than that,
a gift that sustains past this present life. A gift that ensures that
you will be reborn no less than a wise human being with all full
healthy faculties, and not fall into the three realms of woe.
Previously, I encouraged you to stop eating meat.
But your reaction was that your children need meat to grow up strong,
and that you needed time to learn to cook vegetarian meals. If you
think over it, those are just excuses, not to me, but to yourself. Deep
in your heart, you know it is wrong to eat the flesh of those poor
living creatures, but habits are hard to stop. Deep inside is your
compassion which tells you eating meat is wrong. That compassion comes
from your Buddha-nature, which is inherent in every living being. The
Dharma has enriched you in many ways. I will try to fill in one more
part. I will try to help you understand the ramifications of eating
meat. There are at least five reasons why a wise person should not eat
1. The Protein Myth.
2. Good health and long life are the result of your karma.
3. Compassion can never be considered a waste on any
4. You become what you eat.
5. Livestock are loaded with chemicals.
Meat consumption has been most conspicuous in
Western countries, especially since the 1930’s when new methods of
husbandry were researched and became widespread. The animal farmers, in
an effort to boost up business, built up the “Protein Myth,” which
states, “protein is essential for your body” and “meat is the only good
source of protein.” Many people have been brainwashed by that myth.
The protein myth was the result of researches
based on rats in the 1930’s. What they did not know then was that rats
have a body metabolism six times faster than that of human beings.
Rats’ requirement for protein is much higher than the equivalent for
When humans consume excessive amounts of protein
(especially animal protein), they end up with more illnesses than when
they were short of protein. Today, an alarming number of women in
Western countries who are past middle age are suffering from
osteoporosis. It is a disease caused by a number of things, the most
important of which is excess dietary protein. The protein they eat
attacks the calcium in their bones. The more protein they consume, the
more calcium they lose. Consequently, these women have brittle bones
that break at the slightest impact, such as bumping against a car door.
Osteoporosis is caused also by excessive milk consumption. In Asian
countries, like China, where meat is consumed in tiny quantities,
osteoporosis does not exist. Excessive animal protein also causes
kidney stones. The American Institute for Cancer Research reported a
strong correlation between dietary protein intake and cancer of the
breast, prostate, pancreas, and colon.
The best protein sources are from vegetables and
fruits. Besides, they don’t have side effects, such as cholesterol. In
a nonmeat diet, without even trying to select the vegetables for any
meal, any random combination of vegetables would guarantee the required
protein for the human body. You can check all the facts in the book Diet
for a New America by John Robbins. It also contains lots of
reliable reports and references.
In the US, two thirds of the deaths are caused by
these three diseases: heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Excessive meat
consumption is the main cause of these three major killers. In most
Asian countries where meat is consumed mostly in tiny quantities,
people don’t suffer from lack of protein nor from those diseases just
Good health and long life are not the result of
eating meat. If they were, then rich people who can afford meat would
be the only ones to live healthy and long lives. Western people who can
afford it, and who in fact do eat more meat than others, are now
predominantly the ones suffering from those dreadful diseases I
mentioned. On the other hand, you see many people who don’t eat meat or
who can’t afford much meat enjoying good health and living long. Eating
meat does not guarantee good health and long life. Visit any hospital
and you will see that the people with cancer and diseases in the heart,
liver, kidney, and so on are those who eat meat.
Good health and long life come from good karma.
Good karma comes from not killing, whether directly or indirectly. Good
karma comes from practicing compassion, not only to human beings, but
to all living beings. If one is able to feel sorry for a wounded bird
or a limping horse, why is one unable to have mercy for the millions of
helpless animals that are slaughtered every day for people to gobble
up? The number of animals killed every single day for food around the
world is more than the total number of people killed in all wars.
If one adopts the attitude that, “Oh, those
animals are meant to be killed for human consumption,” then you are
also saying that for your own “selfish precious life,” many other
living beings should be killed for your food for your entire life span.
Your body then becomes the cemetery for those animals. Is it necessary
for other beings to die in order for us to have our daily meals? Is the
killing absolutely essential?
Even if you don’t care about the pain and
suffering of those animals, eating their flesh causes harm to yourself
and no one else. Your health will not benefit, nor will you live any
longer. In fact the opposite happens; your health will suffer. In
contrast, protein from vegetables does not kill humans.
A good deed brings good results. A good thought
brings good results. Constant compassion for those chickens, pigs,
cows, fish, and animals ensures that you will not be reborn as one of
You might remember the incident when the Buddha
picked up a handful of dirt and explained that the number of beings
born as humans is like the dirt in his hand, whereas the number of
beings born in lower realms, among animals, ghosts, and hell-beings, is
like the amount of dirt in the world. Humans commit many evil deeds
that cause their rebirth in these lower miserable realms. Even the
average citizen who, on the surface, appears to live without evil, is
actually accumulating killing karma so long as he continues eating meat
and causing many innocent animals to die. With the number of animals a
person eats, is it any mystery, then, why he is reborn countless times
as animals before he finally gets reborn as a human again? The trouble
is that, once given the break as a human, he eats animals and again
gets reborn countless times as those animals. Do you now understand why
humans are so woefully few compared to those reborn in the realms of
The average person believes that eating meat gives
him energy and nutrition for his life force. In fact, anything you eat
fills up your entire body system, whether vitamins or poison. But
people forget that in eating animals, the entire animal life force also
fills up your life force. The fear, anger, agony, and vengeance that
fill up every cell of the animal at the moment of death will also fill
up every cell of the person who eats the animal. If you consider the
sum total animal flesh eaten by the average person, is there any part
of his blood supply, body cells or psyche that is not contaminated by
that toxic animal energy? Think it over.
At the rate people are gobbling up meat, the
retribution becomes so heavy that it cannot wait until a later life;
retribution manifests in this very life. The escalating diseases just
mentioned suffered by meat eaters result from their individual karma.
Their collective killing karma is manifested in the alarming number of
murders; wars; and calamities, such as earthquakes, floods, tornadoes,
accidents, and fires. People are thinking and acting like animals,
killing each other for no reason in increasing numbers. Even kids kill
their parents nowadays. People in greater numbers are growing up with a
death wish, partly fed daily by the unnecessary abhorrent violence
shown on TV. The world is obsessed with killing.
You and I are related as brother and sister in
this present human life. This is nothing new. We have been related as
humans countless times before. But we have been related as animals many
more times than as humans. If you continue eating meat, even if you do
other good karma, it is unsure how many lives you will be reborn as
animals or in other painful realms before we can be reborn in the same
human family again. The chances of my explaining this to you again in a
future human life is like looking for a needle in the entire Ganges
River. The reason I have written this long letter is because I cannot
bear to have you, my beloved sister, reborn countless times as chickens
or cows, only to be slaughtered over and over again.
With each passing day, as you continue eating
meat, you sink deeper into samsara with that many more lives to go
through in the realm of those pitiful animals. Being an animal is no
fun! Believe me! Who do you think are those getting reborn as chickens
and cows every day? And being killed every day? They were previously
humans who ate animals without compassion. As humans they had no
concern whatsoever for the fear, pain, or agony of those poor animals,
and so they eventually ended up being reborn as those animals only to
be eaten by others. The vicious cycle repeats itself ad infinitum.
There is utmost urgency to stop causing this horror to yourself.
One who eats meat incurs more killing karma than
the butcher, because one pays him to kill. It is like paying an
assassin to commit the crime. Every cause definitely produces an
effect. After causing their death and eating their flesh, do you really
believe you can get away with it? No meat eater can ever be absolved
from this killing karma.
Be realistic. It is not eating meat that makes you
or your children healthy and long-lived. It is doing good deeds, being
compassionate, and liberating life that guarantee you good health and a
long and happy life.
When it comes to changing our bad habits, we
should not wait. The best time to do good and avoid evil is NOW! If you
would only make the resolve to stop eating meat this very instant, you
would know how to cook vegetarian meals. You are only putting
unnecessary hurdles in front of yourself by fussing over the difficulty
of cooking. Besides, there are many good cookbooks available on
vegetarian cooking. You teach your children to be filial by being
filial yourself. You also teach them to be compassionate and respect
life by not eating meat or feeding them the flesh of living beings.
This letter has taken a long time to write. But I
write it with the most sincere intention. It is the best gift that a
brother could give to a sister, or to anyone. It is worth your reading
it over again. Today is the day to sincerely make the resolve: “I vow
that from today on, and in all future lives, I will not knowingly eat
the flesh of living beings or cause their death, directly or
With Metta and wishes beyond words