慈濟傳播人文志業基金會
Words From Dharma Master Cheng Yen--Respect Life by Going Vegetarian

We’ve said goodbye to another Chinese New Year holiday, but my mind is full of concern as we move forward. The wildfires that broke out last year in Australia are still burning. Tens of millions of animals have perished in the conflagrations, with firefighters spread thin trying to contain the fires. The outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19) has been most heartrending too. The disease that erupted in Wuhan, China, has spread to dozens of countries around the world. The death toll and number of confirmed cases are climbing at an alarming rate. A sense of crisis has hit the international community.

What is the origin of the virus that is causing such sickness and fear? Wild animals are the suspected source. Animals that live in the wild have habitats of their own and are supposed to roam freely. And yet, in order to satisfy their palates, humans hunt these animals for food. Doing so ultimately increases the chance that viruses will spread from animals to humans, and might have even contributed to the eruption of this current epidemic.

This problem, however, is not limited to hunting wild animals for food. Humans also raise huge numbers of livestock for food. These animals are killed for human consumption when they have grown large enough to slaughter. Thinking only of themselves, human beings disregard other living creatures’ right to live. They give their desires free rein and cruelly sacrifice the lives of other living things for their own interests. When diseases like bird flu or foot-and-mouth disease break out, livestock are killed on a large scale to curb the spread of the diseases. This is truly a sad fate for such defenseless animals.

No vaccine or cure has yet been discovered for the coronavirus. The only thing we can do now is stay vigilant and take protective measures, which include washing our hands often, wearing masks, and avoiding crowded places. But doing just these things is not enough. A more essential thing to do is to adopt a vegetarian diet. Aside from being a show of our sincere piety, this can help prevent disease from entering our bodies in the first place.

Grains and vegetables are the best food choices to nourish our bodies. They are wholesome and natural and have enough nutrients to keep us going. Keeping our diets simple and pure will help promote a life that is also simple and pure. This is conducive to living a most blessed life.

The coronavirus epidemic is a warning to mankind. It is a call for us to reflect on our behavior and repent of what we are doing wrong. It’s high time everyone woke up and took action. There are many benefits to eating vegetarian. When is a better time than now to give it a try? The duration of gastronomic satisfaction is very short. All you need to do is shift your mindset. Show respect for the world of other animals. Don’t raise them for food or allow their lives to be sacrificed. Animals, like humans, are living creatures. Put yourself in their place; develop compassion and love for them. Respect their right to live.

Faced with a raging epidemic, we should be vigilant but we should not panic. We should take good care of our hearts and minds, do the right things, and not cause further disturbance to society. If someone unwittingly passes on unfounded information to you, don’t pass it on. That will only induce more fear and anxiety. Act wisely, and let the rumors stop with you.

Medical workers have worked hard and bravely to battle the outbreak of the disease. They are among the real heroes in this fight against the spread of the epidemic. While they work hard to save lives, we can help make their jobs easier by taking good care of ourselves. If you’ve visited an epidemic zone, be sure to follow quarantine regulations. This will protect yourself and others. If we all do what we should do, we can help the epidemic come to an end as soon as possible.

Faced with recurrent disasters and epidemics in the world, we must stay vigilant, harbor a heart of pious sincerity, and pray devoutly for blessings to come to the world. Adopt a vegetarian diet as a show of sincere piety and to demonstrate your respect and love for other living creatures. Think wholesome thoughts and make good vows. When everyone walks the right path, we will be able to help dispel and ward off disasters and epidemics.

March 2020