The season for the massive slaughtering of turkeys has arrived. Between 250 and 300 million turkeys are raised for slaughter every year in the U.S. alone. And that is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg: in the United States, around nine billion animals are slaughtered every year, including 150.4 million cattle, bison, sheep, hogs, and goats, and 8.9 billion chickens, turkeys, and ducks. In Canada, 650 million animals are killed annually, and in the European Union, the annual figure is 300 million cattle, sheep, and pigs, and four billion chickens.
We treat animals as if they are goods for consumption. Yet, their bodies and lives are the same as ours. They want happiness and strive to avoid suffering. They are friendless and helpless, and no one comes to save them at their time of greatest need.
We can make this a Thanksgiving observance in which turkeys and all other animals can give thanks by taking a vow to abstain from meat eating, according to our capacity, and dedicating the merit to the welfare of all sentient beings.
Becoming vegetarian, even for just one day, cuts the root of animal slaughter, which is the demand for animal flesh. By having vegetarian meals and thus saving the lives of animals, obstacles to our own liberation will be cleared away. Other benefits of giving up animal flesh and maintaining a vegetarian diet are that it protects the environment and helps to keep our bodies healthy. For Dharma practitioners, vegetarian food clears our energetic channels and helps give rise to wisdom. It also protects our commitments and facilitates meditation.
Because the most important factor in the cultivation of Dharma is generating Great Compassion, we invite all Dharma students to compassionately save the lives of animals. Since not everyone is ready to commit to being vegetarian for life, there are various ways in which you can save lives.
Please consider taking any one of these Vows, and dedicating the merit to the welfare of all sentient beings, especially to healing those who are ill or in danger of death:
· Becoming vegetarian for one day every month (for example, on the New Moon)
· Becoming vegetarian for one day every week
· Becoming vegetarian for any one week
· Becoming vegetarian for any one month
· Becoming vegetarian for any 3 consecutive months
· Becoming vegetarian for any 6 consecutive months
· Becoming vegetarian for 1 year
· Becoming vegetarian for 3 years
· Becoming vegetarian for life
- Contemplate how the suffering of animals is identical to your own.
- Choose the appropriate Vow period, and make the determination to fulfill it.
- In front of a representation of the Three Jewels, a Holy Being of your faith tradition, your home altar, or your place of worship, bring your palms together and say:
May what I’m about to do yield favorable results.
May it give me the capacity to benefit others.
May it help me overcome ignorance and limitation.
May it clear away all obstacles on the path.
May it lead me to the union of wisdom and compassion.
From now until (insert here the appropriate period you have chosen),
I vow to abstain from eating the flesh of animals, including fowl and fish.
By the merit accrued through this and all my virtuous acts,
May all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all embrace happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all abide in peace, free from self-grasping.
May all attain the union of wisdom and compassion.
May this merit accomplish my own benefit,
The benefit of others, and great benefit.
om ah hum so’ha
The turkeys thank you!