A Buddhist Thanksgiving.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Nov 25, 2009
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turkeys thanksgiving buddhist killed

Bonus: What the Buddha said on Animal Rights—and why it’s in our Interest to Care.

Offer your thanks to the turkeys, if so inspired, in Comments at bottom.

turkey thanksgiving killed

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. ~ Meister Eckhart

Thanksgiving is about, well, giving thanks. Thanksiving is about family, and community, about gathering, slowing down, about coming together from around the country and irritating the hell out of one another. It’s probably my favorite holiday—holy day—a day when simple communion around the table has held sway against our speedy, materialistic tendencies for generations.

But, of course, there’s a dark lining to this sacred, ordinary day.

Every year, 44 – 75 million turkeys are killed for our American holiday of Thanksgiving (120 million are killed year round). Even worse, most of those turkeys are genetically engineered, caged, not given proper exercise or daylight. It’s inhumane, and on this day, it’s sadly hypocritical.

In that vein, Buddhist teacher…

Lama Zopa Rinpoche offers a prayer of thanksgiving, for these “sentient beings, not food choices. What if our situations were reversed?”


Even if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, remember to practice compassion and mindfulness.

If you are eating turkey this Thanksgiving, try and make sure it’s “green“: heritage, local, antibiotic-free, free-range, organic. Why? Their lives will have been significantly easier, and healthier, before being killed. You’ll be supporting smaller farmers, instead of big agribusiness. And you won’t be buying meat that’s been “grown” so heavy that the turkeys can’t stand up when alive. You’ll be creating a more humane world. Vote with your hard-earned dollars!

PS: check our friend Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg of Jax in Boulder’s videos for Whole Foods for some great, green tips.

“The Buddha said to Angulimala: ‘Angulimala, in countless lives, out of respect for the millions of living beings, I have given up fish, meat, fat, in fact any food associated with killing and have also caused beings to do the same. Due to this my body has become the excellent body of a buddha, characterised by the special marks.'”

“Let’s eat!”


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


13 Responses to “A Buddhist Thanksgiving.”

  1. Ian says:

    Thanks, Waylon. The ethical treatment of animals– either as food-source or fellow being, is the responsibility of each of us who participate in the food chain.. Of course there seems to be little evidence that the favor would be reciprocated, but that one-sided consideration is one of the things that makes us humans so endearing..


  2. David says:

    Many of my non-practicing friends believe Buddhists are vegetarians and I often find myself having to correct this misconception but am still at a loss as to a cogent reason why; especially considering, the economic, ecological and ethical issues that are undoubtedly out of step with dharmic principles. It can be a lonely experience being a vegetarian at meal time while on retreat! The one thing that has come of this paradigm is that I am in no way tempted to judge non-sangha regarding their culinary preference.

    Still eating humble pie,


  3. Eco Mama says:

    Great post!
    Eco Mam

  4. John says:

    For a slightly more silly look at Buddhist Thanksgiving pop over here to Being Buddhist during Thanksgiving

  5. John says:

    For a slightly more silly look at Buddhist Thanksgiving pop over here to Being Buddhist during Thanksgiving

  6. John says:

    For a slightly more silly look at Buddhist Thanksgiving pop over here to Being Buddhist during Thanksgiving

  7. John says:

    For a slightly more silly look at Buddhist Thanksgiving pop over here to Being Buddhist during Thanksgiving

  8. Wong Tho Kong says:

    Whenever there is a festival there will always be a feast and in these festivals hundreds of millions of animals will be slaugthered for consumption. So whenever there is a festival in our country please give a thought to the poor animals killed.
    Make a prayer or wish;
    'May you all have no bitterness,
    no thoughts of revenge,
    May you all, with a heart of forgiveness,
    attain to a better rebirth in your next life.
    May you all in the future,
    practice the realize the Four Noble Truth.
    Practice the Eighthfold Noble Path.
    Be free from greed, hatred and delusion.
    Be free from sufferings and attain to Nirvana.'

  9. Jane says:

    May we deeply look at the turkey on the table, and send it wishes for its suffering and for a good rebirth.
    Personally, I will be reaching for the mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and vegetables. And pumpkin pie and coffee. That, with good friends, is enough for me.

  10. Michelle says:

    I shall be partaking in a vegan thanksgiving and practicing yoga at my local studio to keep my mind in the right state this holiday. Wonderful post!

  11. Michelle says:

    Absolutely! Great post xo