Animals and Us: Quotations

Quotations from Ahimsa (Dynamic Compassion), by Nathaniel Altman (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980).


I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.

— Abraham Lincoln


Birds are given wings to fly, and they were not created in order to be shut up in tiny cages, where they scarcely have room to hop about. Those who claim to be fond of them should desire their liberty, and if they are anxious to see them and learn more of their habits they can do this by going in for bird observation or "hunting" them with cameras instead of nets and guns. We hope the day will soon come when these beautiful creatures will no more be confined behind bars, but will be free to enjoy the liberty which their Creator gave them.

— W. A. Holmes-Gore


It is much more exciting and difficult to "shoot" with a camera than with a gun, and I wish that more and more adventurous young men would give up the gun in favor of the camera.

—Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru


It is my opinion that hunting for sport is hardly a sport in any just sense. The contestants are not evenly matched. If the hunted were equipped with the same powerful and often expensive weapons as the two-legged hunter, and could be taught to use them, then hunting might be more sportsman like. But the animals are not likely to be consulted in the matter or given such a break.

—Saul K. Padover


God put the animals in our keeping and made us responsible for their care and protection. We live together on the same planet. Yet, seeking to escape pain ourselves, we do not hesitate to inflict it on our fellow creatures, without compunction. Sowing pain and death, what do we expect to reap?

—Peter Hoffman


In a universe which embraces all types of life and consciousness and all material forms through which these manifest, nothing which is ethically wrong can ever be scientifically right; . . . in an integrated cosmos of spirit and matter one law must pervade all levels and all planes. This is the basic principle upon which the whole case against vivisection rests. Cicero summed it up in the four words: "No cruelty is useful".

—M. Beddow Bayly


I have just been through the process of killing the cistudo [box tortoise] for the sake of science; but I cannot excuse myself for this murder, and see that such actions are inconsistent with the poetic perception, however they may serve science, and will affect the quality of my observations. I pray that I may walk more innocently and serenely through nature. No reasoning whatever reconciles me to this act. It affects my day injuriously. I have lost some self-respect. I have a murderer's experience to a degree.

—Henry David Thoreau


The demand for vegetarian food will increase our production of the right kind of plant foods. We shall cease to breed pigs and other animals for food, thereby ceasing to be responsible for the horror of slaughter houses where millions of creatures cry in vain because of man's selfishness. If such concentration camps for slaughtering continue, can peace ever come to earth? Can we escape the responsibility for misery when we are practicing killing every day of our lives by consciously or unconsciously supporting this trade of slaughter? Peace cannot come where Peace is not given.

—Rukmini Devi Arundale


A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.

—Leo Tolstoy


Perhaps the time has come to formulate a moral code which would govern our relations with the great creatures of the sea as well as with those on dry land. That this will come to pass is our dearest wish. If human civilization is going to invade the waters of the earth, then let it be first of all to carry a message of respect for all life.

—Jacques-Yves Cousteau


To affirm life is to deepen, to make more inward, and to exalt the will-to-live. At the same time, the man who has become a thinking being feels a compulsion to give to every will-to-live the same reverence for life that he gives to his own. He experiences that other life as his own. He accepts as being good: to preserve life, to raise to its highest value life which is capable of development; and as being evil: to destroy life, to injure life, to repress life which is capable of development. This is the absolute, fundamental principle of the moral, and it is a necessity of thought.

—Albert Schweitzer


You think you can stamp on that caterpillar? All right, you've done it. It wasn't difficult. And now, make the caterpillar again.

—Lanza del Vasto


We have no right to inflict suffering and death on another living creature unless there is some unavoidable necessity for it, and we ought all of us to feel what a horrible thing it is to cause suffering and death out of mere thoughtlessness. And this conviction has influenced me only more and more strongly with time. I have grown more and more certain that at the bottom of our heart we all think this, and that we fail to acknowledge it and to carry our belief into practice chiefly as sentimentalists, though partly also because we allow our best feelings to get blunted. But I vowed that I would never let my feelings get blunted, and that I would never be afraid of the reproach of sentimentalism.

—Albert Schweitzer


Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man. Compassion and living kindness are the hallmarks of achievement and happiness.

—Dalai Lama


All beings are fond of themselves, they like pleasure, they hate pain, they shun destruction, they like life and want to live long. To all, life is dear; hence their life should be protected.



All life, I regard, as sacred. And, it seems to me, in ethics we are concerned not alone with mankind, but also with animals. The ethical ideal, as I understand it, is: Help all life; have sympathy with all life; avoid injuring anything living.

—T. L. Vaswai

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