Most people when they see meat, other than merely noticing how delicious it appears or judging the quality, they do not think about the fact that it is a result of some animal’s experiencing immeasurable fear at being separated from its cherished life and body. Never mind how you would feel if your neck were cut and your skin flayed, suppose if you cut even a little bit of flesh of your thigh, how would that feel? Would it look delicious or not? Just like oneself, animals desire happiness. They also cherish their bodies and lives and fear pain and physical suffering. But in order to rob them of their flesh and hides, men surround the animals and without conscience or shame approach them with knife and rope in hand. They seize them, bind their limbs, and throw them to the ground on their backs. The animals know that they are about to be killed, but there is no means of escape, no one to rescue them. Then their throat is cut by a long sharp knife that is unbearable to look at. With all their strength the killers saw back and forth on the animal’s throat. A red stream of blood flows to the ground and spurts into the air. Gasping for their last breath, it audibly escapes from their slit throat. In agonizing pain their bodies writhe violently. Their eyes bulge and become filled with tears. Still if it takes a little while for the animal to die, the killers become angry and violently stab the animal again and again with their knives, hit and beat them. Then, even as the steam is still rising from the animal’s body they begin to remove the skin with their sharp knives, but the inner breath, the last bastions of life is not easily stopped – think about how this must feel!
Some thrust the tip of their knife directly into the heart. Some chop off the head with an axe. Others break the skull with a mallet. Some bind the mouth to suffocate the animal. Others skin the animal alive. In brief, the animals are killed in a state of inconceivable fear and physical torment. Not only that, but when the animals are young their mother’s milk is stolen from their mouths. When they grow older they are forced to work and receive only blows and beatings. Sometimes as a means to make them grow larger, the animals are castrated or spayed. Finally when the animal has grown old, lost its vigor and become infirm, it is led to the slaughter house where it becomes meat and blood to be put in humans gaping mouths. From The Letter to a Friend by Nagarjuna,
Some die for their pearls, wool, bones and blood
Others for their flesh and skin.
Powerless, others strike them with hand, foot,
Rod and hook prodding them to work.
Like these humans inflict immeasurable torment on animals, and further the main reason is in order to eat their flesh. In brief, when hearing about or seeing animals being killed, if you considered that the animal was your own mother, what would you do? Or if it was yourself, how do you think you would feel? If you generate thoughts like this again and again, giving up meat will not be a difficult endeavor but will be a cause for loving kindness and compassion to increase. As a means of meditating on loving kindness and compassion, Paltrul Rinpoche taught, “Now think carefully, having seen the suffering of these animals, how does it feel if you meditate that it were you? Cover your mouth and nose with your hands stopping your breathing and stay like that for a bit. What is that pain and fear like?” If one were to condense all the meaning into one statement one could say: All the intense suffering of the animals arises based on oneself, therefore it is taught that one needs to abandon eating meat.