Dharma Voices for Animals
18 October 2558 (2015)
Colombo Chapter inaugurated with call for creation of a caring and compassionate society in Sri Lanka
Shenali D. Waduge
Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA) was founded because the Buddhists were not closely following the teachings of the Buddha regarding respect to all forms of life, and not giving voice to the suffering of animals. Bob Isaacson who helped in establishing DVA is an American human rights lawyer and spent much of his professional life in defending and saving two legged people from the death penalty. For over 25 years he had been a vegetarian and vegan for more than eleven (11) years and then he came across the teachings of the Buddha and over time became a committed Theravada Buddhist. The Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA) was originated in San Diego, USA in 2554 (2011) which has nearly 20 chapters throughout the USA, Europe, Asia and even Brazil.
Establishing a DVA Chapter in Sri Lanka was based on the reason that Sri Lanka is the only country that had an unbroken record of upholding and safeguarding Buddhism for over 2300 years. The Sri Lanka Colombo Chapter inaugural session was held at the Dharmavijaya Foundation on Sunday 18 October 2558 (2015). The opening of a highly significant branch of DVA in Colombo is an effort to realign Sri Lankan society towards eating more natural healthy food and helping create a compassionate society showing empathy to all without distinction or differentiation of class, creed and species and more importantly recognizing the fundamental right of all sentient beings to life and liberty.
The Hon. Speaker Mr. Karu Jayasuriya said that a compassionate society in Sri Lanka was a noble goal and added that an endeavour to re-direct our society to the path of peace having had thirty years of conflict and violence was a challenge that we must be prepared to accept. It must start in our schools. Children must be given every chance to learn and practice unconditional love and respect. Children are the country’s future. In teaching kindness and practice of Metta (loving kindness) and Karuna (compassion) to our children the welfare of animals must also be included in our school teaching manuals.
Vegetarian/vegan diet – potential benefits
The final presentation by Dr. (Mrs) Damayanthi Perera, nutrition specialist/independent researcher gave actual statistics of how the food industry led by people who were only interested in making profit were poisoning the world and politicians were silent in taking policy decisions to control and reverse the slow death to the world’s populace. She highlighted with authority and statistics how even the world health bodies have erred in their nutrition advocacy ignoring that a vegetarian/vegan diet can match in every way what killing animal claims to provide. She presented with graphic evidence of how the sale of processed foods and fast foods will leave the present generation dying before their parents. Dr. Perera’s impressive talk was an eye opener to all present.
During the Question and Answer session, several members of the audience shared their views and glowing examples by octogenarians on the healthy impact of eating and surviving on vegetarian diets gave much inspiration to all those present.
The DVA Colombo Chapter inaugural meeting was indeed a ground breaking event and likely to be a powerful source of reference to influence not only Buddhists of Sri Lanka but members of other religions also. An unqualified recognition of the right to life and liberty of all sentient beings matched with healthy living is the message that now needs to be conveyed to both child and adult alike.