Practices of the meat industry: buddhist against animal suffering

ETHICS In his new book, molecular biologist and Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard reveals the meat industry’s many manipulations.

Often veiled: Practices of the meat industry. Image: dpa

Of course, there are films about the suffering of animals that we process into food or clothing; the current show "Fast Fashion" in Hamburg’s Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe also shows such a film. However, the major TV stations rarely show films like "Never again meat?" or footage from the animal rights organization Peta; the images are too shocking, they say.

But this consideration for the sensitive does not apply to the horror films of the same broadcasters – and the real reasons for the refusal of publicity lie deeper: in the lobbying of the meat industry, which does not want its practices made public and its profits diminished. At the same time, it continues to drum the mantra that humans need meat to survive.

That’s not true, as French molecular biologist Matthieu Ricard knows. He discovered Tibetan Buddhism in 1967 and hung up his promising career shortly after earning a doctorate in cellular genetics. Since then, he has lived in Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayas, is a French translator for the Dalai Lama, and is a member of the Mind & Life Institute in the U.S., which conducts scientific research into the effects of meditation on the brain. Even beyond this, Matthieu Ricard seeks dialogue between Buddhism and Western societies.

The latest facet of this is the book "Plea for the Animals," which he is now presenting in Hamburg and in which he reveals the manipulations of the meat industry. For it is precisely this not-being-manipulated-anymore, as well as consideration for the animals, that Buddhist ethics dictate. It is therefore only logical that Ricard, who became famous through the book "The Monk and the Philosopher" – a dialogue with his father, the philosopher Jean-Francois Revel – is now socially engaged.

This is rare among Buddhists and has also been the subject of internal criticism. Yet the Buddha already knew that ethics includes action. A step towards this is the information of the general public as well as the clear positioning from the mouth of an authority unsuspicious of lobbyism.