I grew up in a family that were hunters, fishers, and farmers. By the time I was a teenager I had become a hunter and fisherman. I thought nothing about blowing a hole in a rabbit, dove, quail, or any other animal. Once I was going down a hill with my shotgun looking for something to kill. I was watching out for rattlesnakes. All of a sudden a rabbit ran out of the bush into my path. It really scared me and I aimed at the rabbit and fired. The poor little rabbit flew up in the air and his or her intestines were hanging out of their body. The poor little rabbit was squealing in horrible pain. I did not want to rabbit to suffer so with my boot I crushed his or her head. This bothered me the rest of my life including now. It was not enough then to cause me to become a vegan.
Fish were nothing to me except for food. I did not care if while pulling the hook out of their mouth I ripped their mouth. We raised chicken, rabbits, pigs, and other so called "food animals". We also had dogs and cats but it was wrong to hurt them because they were "pets". I loved my companion animals and would not do anything to harm them. I loved circuses and other things that made animals suffer. I just could not see the suffering back then, that we humans caused.
The day that I became a Theravada Buddhist in 1963, I quit being a hunter and a fisherman. I quit participating in any way that caused suffering to any living being. I went so far as to change my opinion on wars and capital punishment. The teaching of the Buddha concerning Ahimsa (non-cruelty towards all living beings) is what caused me to become a vegetarian. Later I became a vegan when I realized that the dairy and egg industries also causes suffering.
Today I can not enjoy those things that I mentioned above because I can now see the suffering that they cause. Male chicks are slaughtered right after birth since they can not lay eggs and keeping them alive costs money. When the hens quit laying eggs they are also slaughtered. A similar thing happens with cows.
Buddhism makes us aware of the suffering in the world and shows us a way to overcome it. For those that do not want to look at the beauty of Buddhism just remember that it is not a religion but rather it is a way of life. A person can be a Buddhist and a Christian at the same time. They can accept a concept of a god if they choose since Buddhism is not dogmatic and does not require blind faith.
Insert date: 2015-06-08 Last update: 2015-06-09