Slaughter Free Christmas – the way forward
Posted on December 16th, 2015

By Senaka Weeraratna (Dharma Voices for Animals, Colombo Chapter)

The greatest moral challenge faced at Christmas being a religion based festival is to make it slaughter free.

Violence towards innocent animals on a mass scale is not an ethically correct way to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the founder of a religion world renowned as the ‘Prince of Peace’.

To the animals the end of the year celebrations by the human species at both Christmas and dawn of New Year is tantamount to an ‘animal holocaust’. A ‘day of infamy’ from the point of view of the preservation of animal life.

Any true celebration of peace and goodwill related to religion must be based on unimpeachable non – violence and respect for the lives of all living beings including non – human sentient beings.

Innocent animals in their millions if they have not been slaughtered already are now virtually on death row awaiting their turn as we get closer to Christmas.

The vast majority of animals that are killed to sustain ‘feasts’ and celebrations on religious occasions are products of intense factory farming. On factory farms, baby animals are routinely subject to invasive surgical procedures without the mercy of pain relief. Millions of ‘meat’ chickens are concealed in industrial sheds, never to see daylight or feel the earth beneath their feet. In commercial hatcheries, economically ‘worthless’ day-old male chicks are crushed to death as ‘waste products’ of the egg industry. Even the dairy industry is not free from heinous cruelty towards new born male calves. They are dispatched for slaughter no sooner they are born while their mother cows weep for them.

Civilizational Values

Christmas is an apt time for reflection on our civilizational values because it is the season where hundreds of thousands of innocent animals undergo extreme suffering, exploitation, and death. Millions of turkeys are slaughtered for Christmas dinner, along with ducks, geese, pigs, lambs and chickens. In western countries, puppies and kittens are given away as presents, then often neglected or discarded by new owners when the novelty has worn off.  Rabbits and foxes have their fur stripped from them to be turned into clothing and accessories.

The undeclared war that is being waged everyday against countless millions of non – human animals all over the world takes on an aggravated turn during the Christmas season.

These practices are deeply unsettling to anyone that values compassion and respect for the life of others. We cannot remain silent.



Dharma Voices for Animals

The Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA) was formed to give voice to the suffering of animals, because they cannot articulate their suffering. We are opening Chapters of DVA around the world because we have arrived at a moment in history where the cause of animals has to be highlighted loud and clear not only for their sake but also for our sake because it reflects on ourselves. Our sense of justice, compassion and sharing the planet earth with all those who inhabit it.

Vesak – An invaluable precedent from Sri Lanka

There is an invaluable precedent  in Sri Lanka though drawn from another  religious tradition i.e. Vesak, where reverence and compassion for all forms of life is stressed and consequently on Vesak day an age old custom is legally enforced – closure of slaughter houses and ban on sale of meat.  A majority of the people abstain themselves from flesh food consumption as part of the Buddhist religious tradition and practice on that occasion.

We in Sri Lanka can set an example to the rest of the world by doing likewise on Christmas day. The biggest beneficiaries would be the innocent animals. It is time that we all give consideration to their paramount interest in living until their natural life span ends just as much we humans do to each other.

Sri Lankans who celebrate Christmas should strongly consider commencing a new tradition of kindness and goodwill to all living beings by leaving meat off their plate on Christmas day. Instead of blindly aping foreign traditions mired in killing and bloodshed during Christmas, why not follow a more distinctive Sri Lankan tradition of total non – violence when celebrating the anniversary of the birthday of the founder of a religion.

Environmental damage

Becoming a vegetarian or vegan has countless benefits.  Studies have shown that meat eating takes a heavy toll on the environment.  A person who consumes a diet high in meat is responsible for almost twice the climate-killing carbon dioxide emissions of a dedicated vegetarian.

In respect to the environmental cost per calorie, the effect of beef consumption, for example, is horrific. The rearing of beef cattle necessitates 160 times more land and leads to 11 times more greenhouse gas emissions vis a vis crops like wheat, rice or potatoes.

Perhaps the most compelling argument for choosing a vegetarian life style is that abundant studies have shown that vegetarians have lower incidences of heart disease, lower BMI and lower blood pressure than their meat-eating colleagues. Colon cancer is directly associated according to the latest medical research with eating red meat as much as cigarettes are with lung cancer.

It is never too late to start such a fresh endeavor this season. It will save lives.

What can be more holy and noble than that?

Extend the spirit of goodwill to animals this Christmas by avoiding meat altogether on Christmas Day.

That will be an unique and truly noble gesture.

Senaka Weeraratna

10 Responses to “Slaughter Free Christmas – the way forward”

  1. L Perera Says:

    Why only MEAT ? Killing of all animals, birds and fish is equally undesirable. Recently a writer to Lanka Web denounced the method of cooking crabs and had to be reminded that the fish

  2. L Perera Says:

    Contd. the fish killed in the making of Maldives fish that goes into pol sambol suffer as much as the crabs do.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    Killing fish, eating eggs and stealing milk (meant for the calf) and drinking it are same as slaughter.

    The writer could have included these forms of cruelty and slaughter too.

    Otherwise it is INCOMPLETE.

  4. Nanda Says:

    Message here is not about killing or hurting which obviously is against Buddhism.

    Message here is increase of every form of killing during Christmas because of celebration of birth of the “head of the Christianity” This is similar to killings done during Eid festival in Islam.

    The message at the same time telling all Christians that killing of animals (including fish and crab) is NOT OK contrary to the widely preached Christianity of all types. what the preach is animals are created by the God for our consumption.

    Lorenzo being a strong Anglican tried to brush aside it without protesting against his own system, instead trying to pick on Sinhala Buddhists who eat fish.

    According to Buddhism it is OK to eat any meat. But it is not right to eat meat prepared by killing any animal just for you eating (monks only).
    Having said this, if we earn enough to eat and can afford to be choosy , it is a very good idea not eat ANY meat, egg or even drink milk without making it a big fuss, without hurting others.

    My daughter, a strict vegetarian for log time, argued with me for many years since she was 16 years old. This year she came back and told me she understand me now. She is 27.

    To explain simply, Buddhism is not some thing ending up being very nice, kind, God like or Ahimsa. It is beyond that.

  5. Nanda Says:

    Buddhism never ask you to fight against killing, fight against injustice or any form of struggle for the religion. It encourages you to speak truth, to be 100% honest, not to hurt others in every way.

    Only killing Buddhist are permitted is killing of defilements within oneself.

    Let us say Lorenzo the Vegan man like to eat mushroom , for example. Let us say he is very greedy for mushroom curry, specially the one made by his mother. Supposing he greedily eats his lunch with mushroom curry.
    Take the case of another man in Sri Lanka who is so hungry and pick a lunch packet (he chose fish) form the closest shop and gobbles it up, overcome by hunger. I believe there is no difference in both actions according to Buddhism.
    What is important in Buddhism is always be mindful. Being mindful , you don’t indulge in greed, hatred and delusion. Gradually you develop, advance along the path, towards perfect enlightenment.

    Leaving mindfulness aside, going and and fighting against killing of animals is appears to be doing good, but of no use, because you may develop anger and hurt others.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    In the Tree of Evolution, there are lower life forms and higher life forms. Homo Sapiens (Humans) are supposed to be top life form in Evolution. Pain in illness and in the idea of death is greater as the life form evolves. At slaughtering, a cow will anticiapte and fear death and will react to the situation far more than a prawn or a small fish.

    Since human beings are supposed to be omnivores, they can consume some animal products, eggs, milk, etc. though some people must beware as they are allergic to such products.

    Western countries produce soy products (soy meat burghers, soy milk, soy cheese etc) and are now even producting these items through coconut milk which is highly prized. Nut butters are also popular, particularly peanut butter.

    The human body is naturally constructed for a mostly vegetarian diet.

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    No point preaching Buddhism to non-Buddhists. They DON’T believe in it. There should be another compelling justification for NOT consuming animal products. And that should extend to ALL animal products not just ground meat.

    I’m full vegan and don’t even drink cow’s milk. The cow produces milk not for human buffaloes but for its calf. We have NO RIGHT to drink it. A hen lays eggs not to end in our stomachs but to produce the next generation of chicks. Fish are living creatures too. If anyone dreams of a slaughter free Christmas they should SHUN all animal products EVERYDAY. Otherwise it makes no sense.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    “The human body is naturally constructed for a mostly vegetarian diet.”

    True. Try to be fully vegan for 2 weeks and notice the improvement. That includes AVOIDING all animal content including milk and dairy products as well.

    Even body builders nowadays avoid animal products. They can get their proteins from vegan sources!!

  9. Nanda Says:

    Senaka did not preach Buddhism to non-Buddhists. Which statement is preaching Buddhism ?

    He had a hint of teaching to others the hypocrisy of involved in condemning animals as not having any feelings. That is the essence of the Christmas message by Senaka. Why shoud kill more animals in Christmas than on other days ? A simple message that should be taken positively.

    May be I did some preaching, but I did not preach to non-Buddhists.

  10. Nanda Says:

    It is the problem of blatant violation of right to live (of all beings) , complete injustice , typical of the west. They make it law to even legalise it. (Leave out the Jihadist for the time being , that is a another different plane of injustice).

    Now, the young and intelligent of the west denounce this nonsense taught by their religions, but the old, already indulging in eating flesh of others reluctant to give up- which is normal.

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