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Care for Sentient Beings: Buddhism and Animal Welfare

The first precept of Buddhism, which advises us to refrain from taking life, explicitly includes the lives of non-human animals. Central to this foundational prescription of Buddhist ethics is the concept of interdependence, which underscores the interconnectedness of all living beings. The Jataka tales of the Buddha’s past lives illustrates this intrinsic kinship, teaching that animals are not merely resources to satisfy human appetites, but are fellow beings on the same path to spiritual liberation.

From ancient to contemporary times, prominent Buddhist leaders, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, have spoken out against animal cruelty and advocated for more compassionate societies. Their teachings reinforce a growing global awareness of animal rights and the ethical implications of widespread industrial farming and habitat destruction wrought by societies driven primarily by the need for ever-increasing consumption. 

This special editorial project from BDG, Care for Sentient Beings: Buddhism and Animal Welfare, gathers perspectives and insights from contributors of diverse backgrounds—scholars, practitioners, activists—who explore the multifaceted relationship between Buddhism and animal welfare, aiming to inform, inspire, and deepen our understanding of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha with respect to the humane treatment of animals.

We hope to illuminate how this ancient wisdom tradition can guide us toward a more just and compassionate society for all beings that reflects a commitment to minimizing suffering in an imperfect world, and recognizes and honors the intrinsic value of all life.

Please check back in again, this page will be updated regularly.

Explore our special project