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Vegan Quotes – Socrates, Buddha, Einstein and Others on Going Vegan

Vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, animal-free–whatever you call it, it’s not a fad. Since humans began recording their thoughts a few thousand years ago, many great minds have advocated veganism.

Pythagoras (570-490 BC) – For as long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.

Buddha (563-483 BC) – To become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana.

socrates_bustSocrates, as written in Plato’s The Republic (469-399  BC)Socrates: Would this habit of eating animals not require that we slaughter animals that we knew as individuals, and in whose eyes we could gaze and see ourselves reflected, only a few hours before our meal? Glaucon: This habit would require that of us.

Socrates: Wouldn’t this [knowledge] hinder us in achieving happiness? Glaucon: It could so hinder us in our quest for happiness.

Socrates: And, if we pursue this way of living, will we not have need to visit the doctor more often? Glaucon: We would have such need.

Socrates: If we pursue our habit of eating animals, and if our neighbor follows a similar path, will we not have need to go to war against our neighbor to secure greater pasturage, because ours will not be enough to sustain us, and our neighbor will have a similar need to wage war on us for the same reason? Glaucon: We would be so compelled.

Socrates: Would not these facts prevent us from achieving happiness, and therefore the conditions necessary to the building of a just society, if we pursue a desire to eat animals? Glaucon: Yes, they would so prevent us.

Hippocrates (460-370 BC) – The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.

Plato (428-347 BC) – The Gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies; they are the trees and the plants and the seeds.

PlutarchPlutarch (46-120): A human body in no way resembles those that were born for ravenousness; it hath no hawk’s bill, no sharp talon, no roughness of teeth, no such strength of stomach or heat of digestion, as can be sufficient to convert or alter such heavy and fleshy fare . . . There is nobody that is willing to eat even a lifeless and a dead thing even as it is; so they boil it, and roast it, and alter it by fire and medicines, as it were, changing and quenching the slaughtered gore with thousands of sweet sauces, that the palate being thereby deceived may admit of such uncouth fare.

Voltaire (1694-1778) – How pitiful, and what poverty of mind, to have said that the animals are machines deprived of understanding and feeling . . . Judge (in the same way as you would judge your own) the behaviour of a dog who has lost his master, who has searched for him in the road barking miserably, who has come back to the house restless and anxious, who has run upstairs and down, from room to room, and who has found the beloved master at last in his study, and then shown his joy by barks, bounds and caresses. There are some barbarians who will take this dog, that so greatly excels man in capacity for friendship, who will nail him to a table, and dissect him alive, in order to show you his veins and nerves. And what you then discover in him are all the same organs of sensation that you have in yourself. Answer me, mechanist, has Nature arranged all the springs of feeling in this animal to the end that he might not feel? Has he nerves that he may be incapable of suffering?

benjamin_franklin_oil_paintingBenjamin Franklin (1706-1790) – My refusing to eat meat occasioned inconveniency, and I have been frequently chided for my singularity. But my light repast allows for greater progress, for greater clearness of head and quicker comprehension.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) – There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties . . . The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.

Henry David Throeau (1817-1862) – One farmer says to me, “You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make the bones with;” and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying himself with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle.

I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other.
-Henry David Thoreau

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) – Love animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble their joy, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness, don’t work against God’s intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you – alas, it is true of almost every one of us!

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) – A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) – Of all the creatures, man is the most detestable. Of the entire brood, he’s the one that possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.

Thomas Edison (1847-1931) – Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.

George Benard Shaw (1856-1950) – Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.

Animals are my friends and I don’t eat my friends.
-George Bernard Shaw

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) – At the moment our human world is based on the suffering and destruction of millions of non-humans. To perceive this and to do something to change it in personal and public ways is to undergo a change of perception akin to a religious conversion. Nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again because once you have admitted the terror and pain of other species you will, unless you resist conversion, be always aware of the endless permutations of suffering that support our society.

Dmitry Sergeyevich Merezhkovsky (Russian, 1865-1941), from The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci – Truely man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others: we are burial places! I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1955) – It ill becomes us to invoke in our daily prayers the blessings of God, the Compassionate, if we in turn will not practice elementary compassion towards our fellow creatures.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) – Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) – It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.

H.G. Wells (1886-1946) – In all the round world of Utopia there is no meat. There used to be, but now we cannot stand the thought of slaughterhouses. And it is impossible to find anyone who will hew a dead ox or pig. I can still remember as a boy the rejoicings over the closing of the last slaughterhouse.

Ruth Harrison (1920-2000) – In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.

William Roberts, MD (1932-present) – When we kill the animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings.

Carl_Sagan_Planetary_SocietyCarl Sagan (1934-1996) – Humans–who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals–have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain. A sharp distinction between humans and “animals” is essential if we are to bend them to our will, make them work for us, wear them, eat them–without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret. It is unseemly of us, who often behave so unfeelingly toward other animals, to contend that only humans can suffer. The behavior of other animals renders such pretensions specious. They are just too much like us.

Colin Campbell, MD (1934-present) – [W]hat we have come to consider as “normal” illnesses of aging are really not normal. In fact, these findings indicate that the vast majority, perhaps 80 to 90% of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented, at least until very old age, simply by adopting a plant-based diet.

The Dalai Lama (1935-present) – I do not see any reason why animals should be slaughtered to serve as human diet when there are so many substitutes. After all, man can live without meat. It is only some carnivorous animals that have to subsist on flesh. Killing animals for sport, for pleasure, for adventures, and for hides and furs is a phenomenon which is at once disgusting and distressing. There is no justification in indulging in such acts of brutality . . . Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not to die, so do other creatures.

Paul McCartney (1942-present) – If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.

Neal D. Barnard, MD (1953-present) – The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of “real food for real people,” you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.

k.d. lang (1961-present) – We all love animals. Why do we call some “pets” and others “dinner?”



  1. That is an excellent post. What a brilliant compilation of quotations, thanks so much for sharing them.

  2. Thank you Jeff for this spirited post. I wish all meat eaters would read this. Maybe, in time, they too will see that killing animals is murder.

  3. This is a great vegetarian resource page you have compiled. May I reblog this on Friend Nature? You had an excellent idea here!

  4. I’ve reblogged this – it is such a brilliant post! Need to share! 🙂

  5. I’m sure all of our 4 legged (and some 2 legged) friends will thank you too! Good job!

  6. Too many white cis-gendered men on here, there’s plenty of POC and feminist voices in the movement so there’s no excuse. If you included k.d. lang then there’s no reason not to include other modern-day vegans.

  7. These quotes are marvellous. Some very clever people have been quoted, who are compassionate to our humble brethren, and therefore all the more intelligent.

  8. Simply Superb! An EYE OPENER!

  9. Great post!

  10. I just found out that Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, Vincent Van Gogh and Alexander Humboldt were a few other vegetarian geniuses.

  11. Reblogged this on Hammocks & Notebooks and commented:
    Affirms my pride of following a strict vegetarian diet. I really can’t fathom the alternative…

  12. My mind is now made up. Long live Vegetarianism!

  13. Good compilation. Vegan > vegetarian, FYI 🙂

  14. Paul Fraser-Smith

    May 30, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Thankyou for taking the time to compile and share this page. It’s beautiful. Human beings instinctively know from a young age what is right and what is wrong and yet they detour off this without realising it. This post should help others to start living with the compassion and love that they were born with. Thankyou.

  15. thank you

  16. 1. There are no references on these quotes. How do you know they are not made up?

    2. Some of the Greek philosophers had sex with their pupils because they thought it helps transfer knowledge, others lived in an epoch where slavery was widely accepted, and most probably didn’t brush their teeth. Should we make a conclusion that all of these contribute to a higher IQ or that those actions are worth doing/praising for today?

    Please stop trying to force your eating habits into others by posting things like this.

    • Jeff

      August 9, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      Because everything on the Internet is true.

      Love your straw man argument by the way, but I honestly could not care less what you personally choose to eat. 🙂

    • Force your eating habits………how is this blog forcing someone’s eating habits?……ha ha ….you fool. Watch how foie gras is produced for an example of force and eating. #freedom of speech

    • YOU chose to read this post, no one forced it on you. Do not displace your annoyance by wrongful blaming. Also, you state that many lived in epoch where slavery was accepted, are you saying that the individuals quoted above were slave owners? I assume most of them weren’t. So that is quite irrelevant, as is your entire post.

      • Animals are forced everyday by the millions around the world to be food for unconscious humans who are not forced but brainwashed by the profit motivated meat industry into believing they need meat in their diet. This is at our expense as the scientific data shows meat is not a healthy source of nourishment and has contributed to the death of countless humans from cancer to heart disease. The meat industry would like us to accept meat consumption as an unquestioned necessity without self reflection or reality checks.

    • Well they are all made up, by someone 🙂 You can’t discount an individual’s ability to be thought provoking by the fact they are not perfect or agreeable 🙂 unless you just looking for reasons not to think, have you tried reality TV?

  17. Excellent collection of quotes

  18. I am happy to have found this site. I intend to post the quotes one at a time. I have not eaten any form of meat nor any plant part that cannot be gotten without killing the plant (roots) for over 44 years now. I have no desire to kill to live. Death is preferable. However, I do believe in self-defense. If I die, instead of ascending, I will take my honor with me.

  19. This is a great post. I hope you don’t mind if I use it as a source for my infographic. I’ll provide the reference of course.

  20. So many heros. So many visionaries that have shaped human history. How long will the masses bury their heads and ignore their warnings and advice?

    Thanks for the great post!

  21. Love these!

    One of my favourites is:

    “By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.”

    ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

    PS – Just updated a similar post on my site with a load of other a href=””>vegan quotes from pioneers of the plant based movement. Feel free to stop by and check ’em out 🙂

  22. This is a wonderful article, however there is one fault and that is the fact that the Dalai Lama by his own admission is a meat eater.

  23. Please check your quotes. The quote for Leonardo Da Vinci wasn’t even from Leonardo. As a vegan, I don’t want to claim that so and so was a vegan to my friends and then look like an idiot.

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