Why Buy To Liberate Animals ‘Meant’ To Be Eaten?

Question: Buddhists practise liberation of animals caught from the wild or bred, into the right environments. But when bought, more might be caught or bred. Should they not be bought then?
Answer: If so, this is saying that all commercially trapped animals meant to be slaughtered should not be freed. What if you are reborn as one of them? Would you not want to be saved? Let us reflect in terms of human slavery, that still exists today. These slaves are kidnapped or even ‘bred’ from young. Just as we find it atrocious to not free these humans, we should find it so, to not free animals in similar situations. After all, they are all sentient beings capable of suffering, who also yearn to live and fear death.  

The Buddha taught this Buddhist version of the empathetic ‘golden rule’ in the Sutta Nipata (705) – ‘”As I am, so are others; as others are, so am I.” Having thus identified self and others, harm no one nor have them harmed.’ Using this rule for putting ourselves in the positions of others in danger, we should save them. Going beyond passive veg[etaria]nism, this is why animal liberation is also a Bodhisattva Precept to actively uphold.
Ideally, there should be no fixed time, place and (kind of) animals liberated. But even if not all these conditions are perfectly met, there is still value in animal liberation. There are words of guidance and chanting to kickstart animals’ spiritual lives before they are freed. As their spiritual lives lead to spiritual liberation ultimately, they are more crucial than their brief physical lives in the long run. Without any spiritual connection, such liberation is impossible.

Question: How should we reply those who say animals are meant to be eaten by us, or they will also be preyed upon in their natural habitats? 

Answer: Do they think that these animals prefer to be eaten by humans quicker, to only possibly be eaten by animals later? Otherwise to be slaughtered hours after purchase, saved animals mostly do live longer when freed. Again applying the golden rule, if as humans, we do not want to be eaten by others, why should we want to eat others? Who wishes to be regarded as ‘destined’ to be eaten by anyone? When the buying of killed animals (or animals to be killed and eaten) stops, the killing stops. Even if such total stopping is not easy, when the buying lessens, the killing lessens. Buying should only be for liberating.
Related Articles:

What Is The Value Of Liberating Lives?
Why Do Buddhists Avoid Meat-Eating & Practise Animal Liberation?

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