“As long as there are slaughterhouses there will always be battlefields” – Tolstoy
Posted on December 17th, 2020

Senaka Weeraratna

This is one of the most favourite quotations of the celebrated 19th century Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy.  

It means that for as long as humans continue to be the ruthless destroyer of non – humans, the former will never know peace or harmony. For as long as humans massacre animals, they will also kill each other as we have seen right throughout human history. Indeed, one who sows the seeds of murder and pain on another living being cannot be expected to reap joy and love in their own private lives.  

There is no real difference in violence. If you are violent to kill an animal then you are likely to be violent enough to kill a human. Thoughtless killing of animals produces a mindset that can easily  generate violence against fellow humans setting the stage for battlefields and violent conflicts on a mass level .  

Man made disasters such as wars, genocides and holocausts, and natural disasters in the form of pandemics e.g. COVID -19, earthquakes, massive fires, cyclones, typhoons, tsunamis, and huge floods are the outcomes of the evil perpetrated on innocent animals by the tyranny of humans.  

The Buddha condemned animal slaughter and animal sacrifice and in the Mahayana Sutras the Buddha is quoted condemning even meat eating e.g. Lankavatara and Surangama Sutras  

The Buddha said in respect to the duties of an ideal ruler (Cakkavati Sihanada Sutta) as follows:

”  the Chakkavati King (Righteous King) will give protection, shelter and ward both to the different classes of human beings and also to birds and beasts”   

Brahmana-dhammika Sutta

An important discourse of the Buddha on killing of cattle can be found in one of the most ancient Buddhist texts, the Sutta Nipata. Here in a discourse on the ethical conduct fit for a Brahmin (Brahmana-dhammika Sutta), the Buddha speaks glowingly of ancient Brahmins who had renounced the taking of life and never allowed their religious rites to be dishonoured by the killing of animals. But unfortunately corruption set in and they started the practice of animal sacrifice. When the knife was laid on the neck of cattle, the Devas themselves led by Indra cried out ” Against the Dharma is all this ” while fell the sword upon the cows. 

The Devas cried out in horror of that crime of ingratitude and insensitivity perpetrated on an animal that was to humans such a faithful worker, such a sustainer of life. “Neither with their hoofs nor horns do cows cause harm to anyone, gentle they are as sheep, yielding us pails of milk” 

The land became cursed. The awesome power of nature and karmic retribution followed soon after. 

The Buddha further points out that in former times only three ills were found

desire, hunger and decay

but due to the killing of cattle as part of animal sacrifice

ninety – eight diseases were brought on to place the lives of humans in great jeopardy. 


Sri Lanka’s former cricket captains Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara set up a crab shop at a food court opened at the Old Dutch Hospital in the Fort. The crab shop was opened by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa who is seen admiring the giant crabs. Pic by Indika Handuwala  


Some advice to Investors contemplating establishing new slaughterhouses and meat markets in Sri Lanka

Build your wealth on right living and not through causing injury or destruction to the lives of innocent animals.

Remember that kill and eat is not a Buddhist tenet. 

Snuffing out the life of a defenseless animal is totally contrary to Buddhist precepts 

Compassion for living beings is part of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist Sinhala Heritage.

There is an entirely new field called ‘Ethical or Social Conscious Investment’ which encourages investors to choose to invest in activities that are morally and ethically defensible, are run ethically, provide social benefits and are sensitive to the natural environment and the living creatures that inhabit it.  

The story with a photo in the ‘Sunday Times’ (Dec. 4, 2011) entitled ‘ Crabs for Grabs’  shows the insensitivity of the onlookers to the pain and suffering of animals.


These crabs are not there for decoration. Very soon the legs of these live crabs can be expected to be ripped apart and both the legs and the torso thrown into the boiling pot. 

Recent studies show that both Lobsters and crabs i.e. crustaceans, feel pain and stress. These findings add to growing evidence that virtually all animals can suffer.

In the Vyagghapajja-Sutta (AN) the Buddha gave some sensible advice.  The Buddha said that before one acts, one should consider the possible effects or consequences thus: whether the action will be harmful to oneself or others. If it is damaging to oneself, others or both, such an action should be abandoned. Conversely, if it is beneficial to oneself and others, it ought to be committed.

In Buddhist phraseology one’s “neighbour or others’ includes other living beings ( Siyalu Sathwayo). The moral community in Buddhism encompasses all living beings. 

The Buddha’s advice on Right Livelihood

Significance of the Vyagghapajja-Sutta (AN)

The Vyagghapajja-sutta (A.N) is the Buddha’s discourse on the Conditions of Welfare expounded for the material or financial  and spiritual development of the lay Buddhists. The Buddha admonishes his followers to preserve a balanced development between material dimension and the spiritual dimension and to construct personal ethical ideals so as to help realize the social ideal.

As long as a lay Buddhist amasses and expands his or her material or financial wealth ethically or righteously through Right Livelihood (Sammā Ajīva), the Moral Law of Action and Reaction (Kamma-Vipāka Dhamma) will reward the ethical or righteous individual correspondingly.

Right and wrong livelihood
Right Livelihood means engagement in occupations which do not transgress the Five Precepts (Pañcasīlas) and Ten Wholesome Courses of Actions (Dasasīlas)

According to the Buddha the five [types of business] to be refrained from are:

1. selling weapons,
2. selling human beings [slavery],
3. selling animals to be killed for food, or the flesh of animals that one has killed oneself,
4. selling intoxicants,
5. selling poison.

In the Sutta Nipata: 2:7:27-30 it is said that Kshatriyas and self-styled Brahmins and others protected by rank destroyed the repute of their caste and lost their own high status in society because of their involvement in the sin of causing injury to living beings and falling off their virtues. 

Love and compassion for animals is a sign of advancement of culture and civilization.  However,  Sri Lanka is now on the descendancy by falling on the wrong side of history in trying to establish a vast meat industry to serve the flesh food requirements of Asia and the Middle Eastern countries. 

Wise counsel must prevail. Sri Lanka must not allow itself to become the dumping ground for industries that are being rejected and relocated from western countries due to large scale public protests, on moral and environmental protection grounds.

There is no future for the meat industry. The future belongs to the plant based food industry and the ‘ No Kill’ meat substitute industry. 

The meat industry is expected to become obsolete all over the world by 2035.   

Senaka Weeraratna

Vice – President

Justice for Animals and Nature

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