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Quotations about Vegetarianism

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.  —ღ Terri, March 2021

I have no doubt the reader is fond of roast-beef and plumb pudding. Now I detest them.... No lamb bleeds for me. No stately ox is slain that I may feast. Old mother earth supplies my slender appetites. The deep, deep spring, clear as crystal — the innocent vegetables — ethereal food. Thus I am light as air. I am keenly susceptible to every moral and natural beauty, which few enthusiastic beef-eaters are. ~Theodore S. Fay, "The Great Principle," 1832

I could not eat the flesh of bird or fish or meat of any kind; whatever had to be slain I could not eat, so I gathered wild fruit and nuts and corn... and lived on these. ~Ouina (Cora L. V. Scott Richmond), 1882

This is thy brother, this poor silver fish,
      Close to the surface, dying in his dish;
      Thy flesh, thy beating heart, thy very life;
      All this, I say, art thou, against my wish...
Thou art the same with all the little earth,
      A little part; and sympathy of birth
      Shall tell thee, and thine openness of soul,
      What fear is death and what a life is worth.
~Philip Henry Savage (1868–1899)

A vegetarian is a person who won't eat anything that can have children. ~David Brenner

You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I'll buy you a new car. ~Harvey Diamond

Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them. ~Samuel Butler, Note-Books, 1912

Dear Lord, I've been asked, nay commanded, to thank Thee for the Christmas turkey before us... a turkey which was no doubt a lively, intelligent bird... a social being... capable of actual affection... nuzzling its young with almost human-like compassion. Anyway, it's dead and we're gonna eat it. Please give our respects to its family. ~Berke Breathed, Bloom County Babylon

If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian. ~Paul McCartney

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. ~George Bernard Shaw

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. ~Henry David Thoreau

How can you eat anything with eyes? ~Will Kellogg

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. ~Neal Barnard

Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I'm halfway through my fishburger and I realize, Oh my God. I could be eating a slow learner. ~Lynda Montgomery

Animals are my friends... and I don't eat my friends. ~George Bernard Shaw

We don't need to eat anyone who would run, swim, or fly away if he could. ~James Cromwell

If you knew how meat was made, you'd probably lose your lunch. ~k.d. lang

Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, yet we make the same impression on Buddhists and vegetarians, for we feed on babies, though not our own. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Being a meat eater is really expensive, even if you don't count the cost of chemo. (@Veganism)

My situation is a solemn one. Life is offered to me on condition of eating beefsteaks. But death is better than cannibalism. My will contains directions for my funeral, which will be followed not by mourning coaches, but by oxen, sheep, flocks of poultry, and a small traveling aquarium of live fish, all wearing white scarfs in honor of the man who perished rather than eat his fellow creatures. ~George Bernard Shaw

Thou little god within the brook
      That dwellest, friend of man,
I oft have heard the simple prayer
      Thou tellest unto Pan:
That he who comes with rod and line
      And robs thy life to-day,
May yet by the great god be taught
      To come some other way.
~Philip Henry Savage (1868–1899)

I did not become a vegetarian for my health, I did it for the health of the chickens. ~Isaac Bashevis Singer, quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs

Vegetarianism is harmless enough though it is apt to fill a man with wind and self-righteousness. ~Robert Hutchison, address to the British Medical Association, 1930

Heart attacks — God's revenge for eating his little animal friends. ~Author Unknown

Fork: An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth. ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

For the most part, we carnivores do not eat other carnivores. We prefer to eat our vegetarian friends. ~Robert Brault,

My perspective of veganism was most affected by learning that the veal calf is a by-product of dairying, and that in essence there is a slice of veal in every glass of what I had thought was an innocuous white liquid — milk. ~Rynn Berry, quoted in Joanne Stepaniak, The Vegan Sourcebook, 1998

Nothing spoils lunch any quicker than a rogue meatball rampaging through your spaghetti. ~Jim Davis, "Garfield"  [Original context is not vegetarianism. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Vegetarians taste better. ~Author Unknown

Vegetarian — that's an old Indian word meaning "lousy hunter." ~Andy Rooney

Fruits, vegetables,
lean meats, and fish they enjoy
(although some prefer tofu
or milk made from soy.)
~Tish Rabe, Oh, the Things You Can Do that are Good for You!, 2001

What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish? ~Internet meme

Do vegetarians eat animal crackers? ~Author Unknown

I was a vegetarian until I started leaning toward the sunlight. ~Rita Rudner

Most vegetarians I ever see looked enough like their food to be classified as cannibals. ~Finley Peter Dunne

Vegetarian: A person who eats only side dishes. ~Gerald Lieberman

In the strict scientific sense we all feed on death — even vegetarians. ~Mr. Spock, Star Trek, "Wolf in the Fold"

The human body has no more need for cows' milk than it does for dogs' milk, horses' milk, or giraffes' milk. ~Michael Klaper

Tongue — a variety of meat, rarely served because it clearly crosses the line between a cut of beef and a piece of a dead cow. ~Bob Ekstrom

Recognize meat for what it really is: the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal. ~Ingrid Newkirk

I will not eat anything that walks, runs, skips, hops or crawls. God knows that I've crawled on occasion, and I'm glad that no one ate me. ~Alex Poulos

If you love animals called pets, why do you eat animals called dinner? ~As seen on a shirt at

We all love animals. Why do we call some "pets" and others "dinner?" ~k.d. lang

Coexistence... what the farmer does with the turkey — until Thanksgiving. ~Mike Connolly

I won't eat anything that has intelligent life, but I'd gladly eat a network executive or a politician. ~Marty Feldman

I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants. ~A. Whitney Brown

Millions of [the indigenous peoples of India] have lived to an advanced age, without having tasted of any thing that ever possessed life, and been wholly free from a chain of maladies, which have scourged every civilized nation on the globe... ~"Food," The Medical Adviser, and Guide to Health and Long Life, edited by Alex. Burnett, M.D., 1824 July 24th

A mind of the calibre of mine cannot derive its nutriment from cows. ~George Bernard Shaw

A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses. ~George Bernard Shaw

If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat? ~Author Unknown

I never go without my dinner. No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that. ~Oscar Wilde

I've found without question that the best way to lead others to a more plant-based diet is by example — to lead with your fork, not your mouth. ~Bernie Wilke, quoted in Joanne Stepaniak, The Vegan Sourcebook, 1998

The quantity of nutritious vegetable matter, consumed in fattening the carcass of an ox, would afford ten times the sustenance, undepraving indeed, and incapable of generating disease, if gathered immediately from the bosom of the earth. The most fertile districts of the habitable globe are now actually cultivated by men for animals, at a delay and waste of ailment absolutely incapable of calculation. ~William Andrus Alcott (1798–1859), Vegetable Diet: As Sanctioned by Medical Men, and by Experience in All Ages, 1838

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless
Christmas dinner's dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey's point of view.
~Shel Silverstein, "Point of View"

      The Master permits harm to no living creatures, not even to plants. Zoroastro tells me that from an early age he has abjured meat, and says that the time shall come when all men such as he will be content with a vegetable diet, and will think on the murder of animals as now they think on the murder of men.
      To‑day we passed by a butcher's shop, and he pointed to the dead carcases of calves and oxen and pigs, and said with disgust: "Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs." And then added sorrowfully: "We live by the death of others. We are burial-places."
      ~Dmitri Merejkowski, The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci (1902), "Book VI: The Diary of Giovanni Boltraffio—1494–1495," authorised translation from the Russian by Herbert Trench
      [But, then Cesare showed him Messer Leonardo's concealed sketch-books with drawings of "colossal bombards, explosive balls, many-barrelled guns, and such like engines of war, executed with no less delicacy than he lavished on the divine countenances of his Madonnas," and says "Here is your holy man who eats no flesh, who lifts a worm from the path lest a boot should tread on it!... to‑day a devil, tomorrow a saint.... And he does it all with a light heart, with a mystic seductive grace." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

To kill for mere sport is a very different matter: it lies outside the realm of struggle for existence. Too often there is not even the justification of fair play.... He has the advantage of long-range weapons. There is no combat.... The guns discharge.... There is a shout of victory. Surely, man is the king of beasts! ~Liberty Hyde Bailey, "The New Hunting," Country Life in America: A Magazine for the Home-maker, the Vacation-seeker, the Gardener, the Farmer, the Nature-teacher, the Naturalist, April 1902

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, Walden, 1854

I venture to maintain that there are multitudes to whom the necessity of discharging the duties of a butcher would be so inexpressibly painful and revolting, that if they could obtain a flesh diet on no other condition, they would relinquish it forever. ~W.E.H. Lecky

You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Comparative anatomy teaches us that man resembles frugiverous animals in every thing, and carnivorous in nothing; he has neither claws wherewith to seize his prey, nor distinct and pointed teeth to tear the living fibre.... It is only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparations, that it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion, and that the sight of its bloody juices does not excite intolerable loathing, horror and disgust. Let the advocate of animal food force himself to a decisive experiment on its fitness, and, as Plutarch recommends, tear a living lamb with his teeth, and, plunging his head into its vitals, slake his thirst with the steaming blood; when fresh from the deed of horror, let him revert to the irresistible instincts of nature that would rise in judgment against it, and say, Nature formed me for such work as this. ~William Andrus Alcott (1798–1859), Vegetable Diet: As Sanctioned by Medical Men, and by Experience in All Ages, 1838

While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth? ~George Bernard Shaw

I just could not stand the idea of eating meat — I really do think that it has made me calmer.... People's general awareness is getting much better, even down to buying a pint of milk: the fact that the calves are actually killed so that the milk doesn't go to them but to us cannot really be right, and if you have seen a cow in a state of extreme distress because it cannot understand why its calf isn't by, it can make you think a lot. ~Kate Bush

I think if you want to eat more meat you should kill it yourself and eat it raw so that you are not blinded by the hypocrisy of having it processed for you. ~Margi Clark

"Thou shalt not kill" does not apply to murder of one's own kind only, but to all living beings; and this Commandment was inscribed in the human breast long before it was proclaimed from Sinai. ~Leo Tolstoy

Eating things that grow in soil is good for the soul. ~Terri Guillemets

As soon as I realized that I didn't need meat to survive or to be in good health, I began to see how forlorn it all is. If only we had a different mentality about the drama of the cowboy and the range and all the rest of it. It's a very romantic notion, an entrenched part of American culture, but I've seen, for example, pigs waiting to be slaughtered, and their hysteria and panic was something I shall never forget. ~Cloris Leachman

We manage to swallow flesh only because we do not think of the cruel and sinful thing that we do. Cruelty... is a fundamental sin, and admits of no arguments or nice distinctions. If only we do not allow our heart to grow callous, it protests against cruelty, is always clearly heard; and yet we go on perpetrating cruelties easily, merrily, all of us — in fact, anyone who does not join in is dubbed a crank. ~Rabindranath Tagore

There's no such thing as soy milk. It's just soy juice. ~Lewis Black

Can you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstaining from flesh? For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of soul or mind the first man did so, touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, he who set forth tables of dead, stale bodies and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived. How could his eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench? How was it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made contact with the sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal wounds? ~Plutarch

It is only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparation that it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion, and that the sight of its bloody juices and raw horror does not excite intolerable loathing and disgust. ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab Notes

Vegetarianism can easily reach religious proportions. Refraining from meat on moral grounds serves to dignify feelings of guilt toward sad-eyed, furry creatures and substitutes righteousness for squeamishness. ~Bill Griffith, Griffith Observatory comic strip, 1977

To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. ~Mahatma Gandhi

A veteran USDA meat inspector from Texas describes what he has seen: "Cattle dragged and choked... knocking 'em four, five, ten times. Every now and then when they're stunned they come back to life, and they're up there agonizing. They're supposed to be re-stunned but sometimes they aren't and they'll go through the skinning process alive. I've worked in four large [slaughterhouses] and a bunch of small ones. They're all the same. If people were to see this, they'd probably feel really bad about it. But in a packing house everybody gets so used to it that it doesn't mean anything." ~Slaughterhouse 1997

Vegans plant goodwill. ~Terri Guillemets, "Pangæa garden," 1995

I eat everything that nature voluntarily gives: fruits, vegetables, and the products of plants. But I ask you to spare me what animals are forced to surrender: meat, milk, and cheese. ~Author unknown (Thanks, Eric)

Think of me tonite
For that which you savor
Did it give you something real,
or could you taste the pain of my death in its flavor?
~Wayne K. Tolson, from "Food Forethought"

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. ~Author unknown

I do not like eating meat because I have seen lambs and pigs killed. I saw and felt their pain. They felt the approaching death. I could not bear it. I cried like a child. I ran up a hill and could not breathe. I felt that I was choking. I felt the death of the lamb. ~Vaslav Nijinsky

Would you kill your pet dog or cat to eat it? How about an animal you're not emotionally attached to? Is the thought of slaughtering a cow or chicken or pig with your own hands too much to handle? Instead, would hiring a hit-man to do the job give you enough distance from the emotional discomfort? What animal did you put a contract out on for your supper last night? Did you at least make sure that none went to waste and take a moment to be grateful for its unwilling sacrifice? ~Name withheld per author request, 1993

If you're not vegan, you're not vegetarian. ~Terri Guillemets, "Trying," 1995

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